City Proposes $6.5 Million Sports Center

Park Tract Owned In County Would Aid Recreation Revenues

April 29, 1997|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Hoping to infuse Baltimore's cash-strapped recreation department with new revenue, city leaders are planning to develop parkland owned in the county into a $6.5 million multisport center.

Graham Memorial Park, a 68-acre tract near Gunpowder Falls State Park in northeast Baltimore County, could become home to a golf course, driving ranges, batting cages and miniature golf if the city can get the necessary permits from county officials.

"The department could receive $784,000 a year from the operation," city Recreation and Parks Director Marlyn J. Perritt said yesterday.

Perritt said that if approval is granted, the agency would split the user fees with Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp., a nonprofit corporation that operates the city's five golf courses in exchange for the organization's commitment to provide the city with money for youth recreation programs.

"We had hoped to do the work this year and probably open up for next year," said Henry Miller, board chairman for the corporation.

County officials said they would not comment on whether the city's plan for Graham Park is compatible with the area until after they see the proposal.

City and county officials have scheduled a meeting Monday to discuss the park proposal.

"We are just going to have an introductory meeting to find out what their plans are and what they are talking about," said Pat Keller, director of the county's planning office. "Some of our issues might be commercialization and meeting the standards."

The park, a hilly, wooded area with a

stream running through its rugged terrain, is roughly bounded by Joppa and Harford roads. It was given to the city by owner Dr. R. Walter Graham, the city's comptroller from 1955 to 1963.

The city wants the park built in three phases:

The first phase would include an 80-station driving range, a miniature golf course, transformation of an existing horse barn into a multipurpose clubhouse with indoor practice facility and refreshment stands, a new entrance road, parking and lighting.

The cost is estimated at $3.23 million.

The second phase would be construction of another miniature golf course that would cost $165,000. City officials expect the course to be paid for from user fees generated from phase one.

The third phase would be either a nine-hole regulation golf course or an 18-hole par-three golf course. The estimated cost is $3.16 million.

If approved, this would be the city's second golf course in the county. The city owns Pine Ridge Golf Course at Loch Raven Reservoir near Timonium, the flagship of the five golf courses. City leaders wanted to build a second course nearby, but local opposition quashed the idea.

Last year, the five golf courses rang up $5 million from user fees, $400,000 of which went to the city. The remainder was used to pay for operating, maintenance and capital improvements of the courses.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is backing the latest proposal and counts its success as a critically important way for the city's Recreation Department to benefit from fees generated by Graham Memorial Park's use.

In recent months, he has ordered the Recreation Department to come up with more ways to earn revenue. A report from a task force commissioned by the mayor to critique the department said the agency is lethargic and allows money-making opportunities to go by.

Pub Date: 4/29/97

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