County proposes 6 soccer fields on site of Alpha Ridge Landfill Residents seem pleased with plan, but worry about increased traffic

February 06, 1997|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Despite allegations that the Alpha Ridge Landfill may be hurting the health of some of its neighbors, Howard County officials want to use 12 acres on the southwest side of the Marriottsville site for soccer fields.

County recreation officials presented the plan last week to residents living near the landfill, which soon will stop receiving most trash.

Many residents were pleased with the idea, but some expressed concerns over the increased traffic in the residential areas surrounding the landfill.

The six soccer fields would be off Sand Hill Road near Interstate 70.

A temporary access road would be built off Sand Hill Road to service the fields, a road that some residents oppose.

"They'll speed up and down this road," said L. Scott Muller, a leading landfill activist, who lives on Sand Hill Road. "Once they open [the temporary access road], they're going to use this road permanently. We've heard this so many times."

Away from landfill cells

The soccer fields would not be near any of the landfill's cells, where waste and gases are concentrated, said Jeffrey A. Bourne, director of the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Marriottsville resident Donald Gill, who lives less than a mile from Alpha Ridge and is a longtime opponent of the facility, said he approves of the soccer field plan.

"The landfill has been a disaster from the very start," he said. "I don't think air contamination will pose a risk to people visiting the soccer fields one or two afternoons a week."

Some soccer devotees welcome the plan, because of a shortage of fields in the county.

"Soccer is probably the sport most played by children and adults in Howard County," said Bob Buckler, vice president of Western Howard County Soccer Inc., a recreational league. "Soccer fields are welcome, wherever the county wants to put them."

Toxicologist studies risks

County officials hired a toxicologist to study the health risks of Alpha Ridge after The Sun reported last month that in a community of 70 residents along Old Frederick Road -- about 1,000 yards from the landfill -- 10 people have had cancer and seven of them died of it since Alpha Ridge opened in 1980.

At the meeting last week, the toxicologist said gases from the landfill exist in too low a concentration to affect human health at the site for the soccer fields.

Athletic fields, picnic areas, and playgrounds are in Alpha Ridge Community Park just north of the landfill.

The next step in the soccer fields plan is for the county to attempt to address community traffic concerns, Bourne said.

Pub Date: 2/06/97

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