Subdued blueprint for green spaces Preliminary plan aims for low-intensity uses of Cromwell Valley Park

April 23, 1996|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Much of the farmland and woods of Baltimore County's Cromwell Valley Park would be preserved, and activities such as hiking, picnics and overnight Scout activities are emphasized in a preliminary plan that will be unveiled to the public tonight.

"We're going to keep it very low-key," county landscape architect Jean Tansey said of the 367-acre park created in recent years through the purchase of three large connecting farms along Cromwell Bridge Road.

The plan shows no activity more intense than the weddings, summer day camps and small concerts already held at the park, which -- except for a few houses and farm buildings -- will remain a buffer of open space about 1 1/2 miles long between suburban development and Loch Raven Reservoir.

"We tried to incorporate as much as we could of what people did and didn't want in the park," Ms. Tansey said.

The plan, which includes suggestions made at a public meeting in November, will be presented at 7: 30 p.m. at Loch Raven High School, Cowpens Avenue and Cromwell Bridge Road. Another meeting will be held late this summer on revisions before a final plan is adopted.

Among the proposals rejected were ideas as diverse as having no public parking and building athletic fields and an equestrian center.

The low-key plans please Lillian Jenifer -- owner of the valley's oldest home, a stone house built in 1744 by an ancestor of her late husband, and 7 acres nearly surrounded by the new park.

"Let's hope they stick with it," said Mrs. Jenifer, whose land had been sought unsuccessfully by the county.

"No tennis courts or playing fields. We should keep it passive." Mrs. Jenifer said. "I like the idea of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts camping, but please, please, no big old lights."

"They're trying very hard to please everybody," said Ron Sanders, who operates a restaurant near the northeastern corner of the park at Loch Raven Drive and is a member of the park's 16-member citizen advisory board.

"The size of the parking lots will determine the use or abuse of the park," said Polly Wirth, acting president of Friends of Cromwell Valley. "Parking and roads are the biggies."

Among the changes proposed is connecting existing residential roads on the Sherwood, Satyr Hill and Good Fellowship farms, which were purchased for about $8 million by the state. Much of that land belonged to owners had contemplated development in the early 1980s, when a campaign to preserve Cromwell Valley began.

The county also might move the narrow entrance road leading to the old Sherwood mansion, which is used for weddings, small conferences and occasional summer concerts.

Administration buildings, and perhaps a small theater in a converted barn, would be situated near the entrance road, at the southwestern corner, which temporarily remains the home of C. Franklin Eck Jr., the last owner of the 45-acre Good Fellowship Farm, now one of four paying tenants in houses on park property.

Two kidney-shaped swimming pools on the property also might be used, but only for special activities such as company picnics or swimming instruction, and not for casual public swimming, Ms. Tansey said.

Minebank Run, which flows mostly parallel to Cromwell Bridge Road into Gunpowder Falls, is to be restored to prevent erosion and silting that heavy storm flows have carried from Towson and new residential developments.

Ms. Tansey said several security stations will be built, near the administration area and at the park's eastern edge, and that no road access from residential areas north of the park would be allowed.

Access would be limited to the two existing entrances on Cromwell Bridge Road and one or two that might be added from Loch Raven Drive on the eastern edge.

Ms. Tansey said she doubted that the park will have much impact on traffic.

Arthur N. Rogers III, chairman of the county parks board and the Cromwell Valley Park Citizens Advisory Board, said planning activities in the park has been open -- and slow.

"I'm very happy with the process," he said. "We have to be very deliberate. We're trying to put together a facility where all parties will be happy."

Pub Date: 4/23/96

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