Pavilion proposal raises questions Yates doesn't want concert venue in his area

November 13, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Tentative plans for building a pavilion concert theater on 131 acres of state land in Sykesville are already causing a rift among the County Commissioners.

With the state expected to declare the site and 15 century-old buildings that make up the Warfield Complex at Springfield Hospital Center surplus property, Carroll officials say, the pavilion along Route 32 could be a a boon for South Carroll. But that's about all they agree on.

If the state widens Route 32 to four lanes, say Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown and Jack Lyburn, county director of economic development, they favor a concert pavilion similar to Merriweather Post in Columbia. Such a venture could mean $1 million in entertainment taxes for the county, Brown said.

But Commissioner Richard T. Yates, a South Carroll resident, would like to quash the idea, and that, he said, "has started a real rift between Brown and me."

Where Brown sees revenues, Yates sees "a lot of other things we don't want down here. I don't want this in my back yard." He vows to keep concerts "down the road in Columbia. I find it most interesting [that] Brown didn't promote the rock concert bowl anywhere near where he lives but, unilaterally, decided it was just fine to dump that concept in my area," Yates wrote in a press release yesterday.

Brown acknowledged that concertgoers would generate more traffic on Route 32, an already burdened two-lane highway.

"If the state wants a pavilion to happen and is willing to four-lane Route 32 to I-70, the plus outweighs any discomfort that might come from such an entity entering the county," said Brown. "Without road improvements, I would not support it."

Yates and Commissioner Donald I. Dell, who said they were never told of the pavilion proposal, disagree.

"I don't think the community would accept it," Dell said. "I have never been to a Merriweather concert, but I hear they are pretty wild. We don't need that kind of revenue to run our county."

Yates said he does not believe that a concert pavilion would mean any economic benefit to the county. "South Carroll doesn't really need the streets clogged with old Volkswagen buses with peace signs and marijuana smoke wafting out the windows."

Concert promoters would not hire local people for high-paying jobs, said Yates. The additional police services for traffic and crowd control would be financial burdens for Sykesville and the county, he said.

"We need good jobs here," said Yates. "We want to change this county from a bedroom community to a place where residents can work. Instead, now they buy property and run to jobs in Washington and Baltimore."

A county that is trying to boost its industrial base should be open to new business ventures, Brown said.

"With Carroll County desperately in need of economic development, it is foolish to hastily turn up our noses at any prospect, much less one that would generate $1 million in entertainment taxes, not to mention jobs, payroll and property taxes," said Brown.

Sykesville Mayor Jonathan S. Herman also opposes the concert pavilion. The town has proposed annexing the Warfield property and has suggested a planned community that would include a satellite college campus, shops and residences in preserved buildings.

"The town is the best entity to champion the cause of the hospital rejuvenation," Herman said. "The county is not focused enough to give the hospital and the buildings the attention they need."

Yates said he would throw his support to Herman's idea for rejuvenating the buildings and for an intensive planning session led by a nationally known architect.

Since the possibility of a pavilion became public, Richard N. Dixon, the state treasurer, and Louis L. Goldstein, comptroller, have contacted Herman and plan to meet with him in Sykesville within two weeks.

The two state officials said they favor preserving the Warfield buildings. As members of the state Board of Public Works, they and the governor make the final decision on the disposition of state surplus property.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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