Arundel seeks tract for 200-acre park on Stony Creek

January 02, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County officials are negotiating to buy 120 acres of waterfront property that would link two other wooded tracts and create a regional 200-acre North County park on Stony Creek.

The resulting park on the Marley Neck peninsula would be slightly smaller than the 240-acre Downs Memorial Park in Pasadena. It would preserve a green wedge on the rapidly developing peninsula and offer a refuge in the mostly paved-over Glen Burnie-North County area.

The site for the unnamed park has about a half-mile of waterfront on Big Burley Cove and Stony Creek. The chance to buy large waterfront properties is slim everywhere in the county, but especially in North County.

"One of the impetuses was that we don't have a lot of parkland in North County that is large and undeveloped," said Jack Keene, chief of planning and construction in the Department of Recreation and Parks. "Most are small. They're baseball fields and playgrounds."

The department has tentatively budgeted $1.2 million this year toward the purchase and has asked the Department of Natural Resources for about half of the money in state Chesapeake Bay access funds. Mr. Keene said the department hopes to have an agreement with property owner David Heckendorf within three months and settlement on the tract by July.

Several years ago, the Heckendorf family wanted to build a nine-hole golf course on their property but was turned down by the county. Mr. Heckendorf could not be reached for comment last week.

The swath of land would connect two 40-acre inland sites, both called Stony Creek Park. CSX Corp. turned over the Stony Creek land to the county in recent years.

A major North County park would fulfill a campaign promise County Executive John G. Gary made to Glen Burnie and North County residents. The Glen Burnie High School graduate said he hopes new amenities will spur redevelopment in the older

section of the county, where some residents are furious that Glen Burnie was chosen as the site of the new county jail.

The new park is likely to remain less developed than Downs Park, which has ball fields and an amphitheater, Mr. Keene said. Much of the land is within 1,000 feet of the water. Such land is considered environmentally sensitive under state law, and development is prohibited or severely restricted.

Also, it would be difficult for a developer to meet reforestation requirements -- planting new trees in nearby areas to compensate for those cut down at the development site -- because the area is already thickly forested.

A section of the site is an old campground. "I used to camp there when I was a Boy Scout. The [Heckendorf] family used to let people on," recalled County Councilman Thomas W. Redmond Sr.

Hiking trails, not necessarily paved, could be added, and the county also might consider a boat ramp. The latter would depend on a variety of factors, traffic and parking among them.

"People want a nature thing, similar to Jug Bay, but maybe not that restrictive" in the hours it is open or concessions, said Mr. Redmond, whose district includes the Stony Creek area. "The community wants to see it as a passive park, not an active park."

The 477-acre Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, at the southwestern edge of the county, is open three days a week at most. It has a nature center with a small picnic area and miles of unpaved trails. There are no snack shacks and no swing sets.

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