Stoney Creek Park passes first hurdle for expansion Officials expect other Program Open Space projects to win OK

December 19, 1997|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

More people and building in Anne Arundel County might mean more traffic and development, but it also means more and bigger parks.

A record $2.8 million in state funds for new and larger parks in the county has been earmarked in the past year under the 30-year-old Program Open Space, which parcels out money to )) counties based on their growth.

The funds marked for Anne Arundel have been increasing steadily since the mid-1980s.

In a complex funding ritual, the county must now get final state approval for proposed park projects before roping off property, but county recreation and parks officials expect this year's seven projects to sail through.

The largest of those proposals, adding 123 acres to Stoney Creek Park in Pasadena, passed the first hurdle Wednesday when a state legislative committee signed off on it. The %o expansion, with a $650,000 price tag, is expected to pass the final hurdle -- the state Board of Public Works -- next month.

The Stoney Creek expansion would come on the heels of another $130,000 park expansion the state board approved this week for Severn-Danza Park on Donaldson Road in Severn.

"This is the first time since I've been elected that we've had a project proposed for the [Pasadena] area," said Del. Joan Cadden, who fought for the Stoney Creek expansion. "The more open space we can preserve, the more beneficial it is for quality of life. I'd like to see more of the area around Mountain Road preserved."

The drawn-out state funding procedure allows the county time to match all state funds that come to Anne Arundel.

Also on the county's park wish list this year: a 137-acre addition to Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary in Lothian, improvements to the Oxbow Nature Area near Laurel, a 7 1/2 -acre addition to a community park in Galesville, a 63-acre addition to a community park off Riva Road in Annapolis, and a 4-acre expansion of another Pasadena park, Lake Waterford. The Jug Bay and Riva park additions won final approval from the Board of Public Works this fall.

Each year, county officials sort through several dozen proposals from community groups hoping for an extra ball field or nature preserve.

While Program Open Space funds accounted for only 20 percent of the county parks department's budget this year, in financially tight times, Open Space money was responsible for saving and expanding dozens of parks that Anne Arundel might not otherwise have been able to support. In the early 1990s, the program accounted for 80 percent of the recreation and parks budget.

"It has really been a model program that other states have adopted," said Jack Keene, chief of park planning and construction in Anne Arundel. "It's tremendously valuable for the county. It automatically puts resources into counties where open space is being gobbled up for development."

Only Montgomery, Prince George's and Baltimore counties get more state money for parks than Anne Arundel.

Pub Date: 12/19/97

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