Concerns aired about government complex, park Traffic, lighting discussed at meeting

August 01, 1996|By Erica C. Harrington | Erica C. Harrington,SUN STAFF

While many western Howard County residents favor a planned government complex and regional park at Carrs Mill Road and Route 97, they voiced concerns this week about the traffic and lighting it could bring and a lack of horseback riding facilities under the proposal.

About 60 people quizzed county officials and architecture consultants about plans for the 181-acre site just north of Glenwood Park at a meeting Tuesday night at Bushy Park Elementary School.

The complex eventually would house a library, a fire station and a community center that would include a meeting space, an expanded senior center, the Health Department and police offices. The buildings would be concentrated at the east end of the site, along Route 97.

The park -- which would extend west from the buildings -- would have sports fields, picnic pavilions, a pond and walking trails through the wooded areas that exist today.

The options displayed for residents at Tuesday night's meeting include:

Putting the library and community center in one building with one entrance on Route 97 and one entrance on Carrs Mill Road. Driveways would lead west to the park from these main entrances.

Three separate buildings for the library, community center and fire station with an entrance on Route 97 and an entrance on Carrs Mill Road near the intersection of the two roads. A park entrance would be farther west on Carrs Mill Road.

The master plan for the project will be complete by the end of this year, county officials say. Construction of the library -- with or without the community center -- is scheduled to begin in fiscal year 1998, which starts July 1, 1997.

Although no final cost has been set for the library, $12 million has been appropriated for it in the county budget. Construction of the park -- the final phase of the project -- is set to begin in fiscal year 2002.

While most residents at the meeting favored having the complex and park, many expressed concern about traffic and lighting that would be generated by the government complex and sports fields.

Clifton Clevenger, a farmer who has lived and worked next to the site on Carrs Mill Road for 18 years, said having a park entrance on that road would make raising his crops more difficult.

"If I have to run a machine or spray the crops and a cloud of dust blows onto the park, I become the bad guy," he said. "It was 100 percent rural when I moved here. I realize it's going to come, but I thought it would be another 10 years."

Gale Monohan, the Howard County representative for Trail Riders of Today, a Maryland horse trail preservation group, said the park design should have included trails that could be used for horseback riding.

"They have baseball fields, soccer fields and tennis courts, but we weren't even consulted about this," she said.

Jeffrey A. Bourne, director of the Department of Recreation and Parks, said the agency would study traffic counts at Carrs Mill Road and Route 97 to determine the best place for entrances and parking lots. He said the department will include community suggestions in the master plan.

"We may never get to complete agreement, but now we can focus on the priorities of the community," he said. "We've attempted not to make it just buildings fronting the road."

Penny Gray, who sold the land to the county in 1994, said the plan for the complex is good for a changing community.

"This isn't country anymore," Gray said. "We like to have [the facilities] in one spot as opposed to up and down the road. You only get one shot to plan it right."

Pub Date: 8/01/96

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