4 recreational plans offered for farmland tract Olympic Village proposal included for parcel near Columbia's Town Center

December 10, 1997|By Dana Hedgpeth | Dana Hedgpeth,SUN STAFF

Howard County park officials unveiled last night four plans for recreational facilities on part of a 300-acre tract of farmland off Route 175 near Columbia's Town Center.

The plans include a soccer facility with dozens of fields; an Olympic village for the 2012 Games; a park with a 5,000- to 8,000-seat stadium, roller hockey areas and basketball courts; and a park with soccer fields, walking and bike trails, gardens and a playground with a farm theme.

Jeffrey A. Bourne, county director of Recreation and Parks, unveiled the plans to a 12-member committee appointed by County Executive Charles I. Ecker to recommend a plan to develop the farm. The land was owned by Elizabeth C. "Nancy" Smith, who died in February without a will.

In all of the plans, the 19th-century Blandair mansion, where Smith had lived, would remain intact.

Perhaps the most ambitious plan is "Millennium Park," home of the 2012 Olympic Games that Baltimore wants to sponsor. It features a 75,000-seat coliseum surrounded by three Olympic villages with pools in the middle; two gyms; a diving pool; a hotel, shops and restaurants.

The plan drew mostly frowns from the politicians, Columbia Association representatives, planning officials and residents at the meeting.

"The whole point of this is to provide recreation to Howard County, not have commercial development in there," said Joan Lancos, a county Planning Board member.

One of the more likely scenarios, some say, is that Smith's heirs may develop housing on the 98-acre southern portion and turn the northern tract into a park.

"I think when it comes down to it, one of the major developers around will come in and develop the southern portion of the property," said Columbia Council member Wanda Hurt, who represents Owen Brown village.

Since Smith died without a will, never married and had no children, the land reverts to a cousin in Baltimore and another in Eureka, Calif. What they plan to do with the property is unknown.

Last month, Gov. Parris N. Glendening directed state Department of Natural Resources officials to identify $4 million in open space money to possibly buy the Smith property. Members of the Soccer Association of Columbia have offered $1 million toward any purchase if a large portion of it is used for soccer fields.

Getting the money is key.

"The county can come up with [millions of dollars] for the Allied Signal building; why can't they do it for recreation?" said Cecilia Januszkiewicz, a Columbia Council member who represents Long Reach.

Pub Date: 12/10/97

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