Park expansion will offer I-95 neighbors some relief

June 07, 1996|By Kathleen B. Hennelly | Kathleen B. Hennelly,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

One picturesque middle-class cul-de-sac in the western Savage area seems serene -- until you get out of your car. The roar from nearby Interstate 95 assaults residents' ears, prompting them to seek peace and quiet away from their own back yards.

Now the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is buying land near those back yards to expand Savage Park, which many area residents use as a haven away from the diesel-fueled din.

"Living next to I-95, it's nice to have a place to get away," said Danny Walburn, who lives on Spring Water Path, a stone's throw from the new park land.

Although the recent $375,000 land purchase was only 5 acres and a house near I-95, it was important because it brought two vital tracts of land together, forming a four-mile stretch that connects Savage to land in Columbia's Kings Contrivance village.

The land being gathered bit by bit will connect to the Howard County Spinal Pathway system and eventually create more than four additional miles of paved trails for bikers, walkers and joggers.

DNR's Program Open Space (POS) helps counties purchase land for public recreational use. These lands also function as preservation centers for animals and natural resources.

The house on the new Savage Park land will be used as an educational nature center and an information site for the stream valley.

Kenneth M. Alban, the administrator for Capital Programs for Howard County, said that POS has been vital in efforts to secure land for park and recreational use.

"It protects the critical natural resources in our area such as the flood plains, wetlands, dense woodland and stream valleys and also provides land for active recreational facilities," he said.

"In the Savage area the natural resource we are concentrating on is, of course, the Little Patuxent River stream valley."

The Savage Park area traces the banks of the Middle and Little Patuxent rivers. State officials plan eventually to link the Savage Park area to Lake Elkhorn to the north and the Gorman Area to the northwest.

One of the ways they will expand the open space -- particularly a trail in the Savage Park area -- is by working with agencies such as the Columbia Association, the Department of Education, the State Highway Administration and Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. which grant the use of small surplus tracts for use as trails.

Five large parks -- including Savage -- and 34 small parks and recreational centers pepper the neighborhoods of Howard County. The 6,023 acres of parkland have become a refuge for people who need to get away from the noise of the highways and want to find constructive activities for their children.

Savage area residents bring their children to the park for community activities, sports, leisurely strolls, biking and jogging.

Walburn said he likes to take his son and daughter there.

"My kids go to the park with the elementary school on class trips and usually have a lot of fun," he said. "Personally I like to jog down there."

Lee Ann Willging says she and her two sons use the park often. "This is our favorite park," she said. "We come here all the time, and anything that they can do to add to it will be fabulous.

Pub Date: 6/07/96

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