Park trail hearing set for tomorrow Some fear misuse of path, others see benefits

March 18, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Hikers, bicyclists and runners who want county government to build a planned 2.3-mile park trail in Westminster and neighborhood residents who oppose it will have a chance to speak at a public hearing tomorrow.

The trail is planned to start at Westminster Community Pond and run northeast, then curve south to Bennett Cerf Memorial Park. It will follow Route 27 and end at the former B. F. Shriver building. It will be about 8 feet wide and some sections will be paved, said Richard J. Soisson, county recreation and parks director.

The trail "provides opportunities to benefit our community" by allowing for safe recreation, nature appreciation and economic benefits, said Greg Becker, chairman of the Sierra Club's Catoctin chapter.

He said city merchants would benefit from the sale of film, recreational equipment and food to trail users.

The Westminster Road Runners Club "would like to be able to conduct races in areas free of traffic," said David Herlocker, a member of the club's executive board.

Mr. Herlocker was seriously injured in an accident that took the life of jogger Terrence "Terry" Burk in August. The two, members of the Road Runners, were hit by a car as they ran along Route 97 at Kalten Road.

Mr. Burk's death gave impetus to plans to build the trail, Mr. Soisson said.

The estimated $359,000 cost will be paid from developer assessment fees, a state grant and county bonds.

Some Westminster residents are skeptical of the plan, fearing the park would become unsafe.

"There will be other riffraff to come with it [the trail]," said Monroe G. Haines, an activist who has dedicated years to cleaning up Longwell Branch, a stream that runs near a section of the planned trail.

Mr. Haines said he feared that trail users would dump trash into the stream.

Mr. Becker said that "people who are motivated to have a nice trail will be a presence on the trail and will deter people from misusing it."

The County Commissioners have scheduled a meeting for 7 p.m. tomorrow at West Middle School, 60 Monroe St., Westminster.

Pub Date: 3/18/96

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