Developers considering new sites for racetrack rejected in West County Areas north of Pasadena, west of BWI being eyed

March 06, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan and Tom Pelton | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan and Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Developers of a 54,800-seat auto racetrack, discouraged by community opposition to a West County site they have been considering, are evaluating at least two other possibilities in Anne Arundel County, industrial properties north of Pasadena and west of Baltimore-Washington International Airport, according to a county development source.

Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., which works to bring businesses into the county, has been working with the developers of the proposed racetrack to find an alternative to their controversial first choice in Anne Arundel, a site west of Fort Meade.

One industrial property available in North Pasadena is the old Kennecott Copper site, near Fort Smallwood and Kembo roads. Refining ended there in the 1980s, and residents expressed fear yesterday that developers were considering the site for the track.

"Sixty thousand people will attend it three times a year?" said Carolyn Roeding, president of the Greater Pasadena Council. "Who's going to pay for the road improvements? What is the future for Pasadena?"

Chris Lenchenski, general manager of the Timonium-based Middle River Racing Association, which is planning the track, said yesterday that the group is still looking at the Russett site near Fort Meade while considering other sites in the county.

The association announced in December that it was considering a 380-acre site south of Route 32 for the sports complex. The association had turned to Anne Arundel's Russett community after being rejected in Baltimore County.

Political support for the proposal faded in January after hundreds of Russett residents attending a meeting complained about the noise and traffic they said a track would bring.

County Executive John G. Gary "has requested that we look at other sites, and we are certainly willing to do so," association spokesman Michael Alfinito said recently.

Lisa Ritter, Gary's spokeswoman, said he asked the track developers in late January to consider other sites.

"It became evident that there was going to be a problem" with building it in Russett, Ritter said.

Richard J. Morgan, director of Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., said this week that his agency is trying to find an alternative industrial site for the racing association in the county.

Morgan wouldn't identify sites being studied but said the top priority would be abandoned industrial sites.

County Council Chairman Bert Rice, a Republican from Odenton whose district includes the site west of Fort Meade and who has opposed the track in his back yard, said the racing association's interest in his area has "cooled off considerably."

"They had been pressing for a rapid pace on this project," Rice said. "But I think they underestimated the fact that this is a very difficult issue in an election year."

Pasadena residents wonder whether the battle will shift to their neighborhood.

"It's better than an incinerator as far as health concerns go," said Mary Rosso, who lives about two miles from the Kennecott Copper site. "But there's the multitude of avenues of problems that [a racetrack] is going to create in an area that's already got its problems.

Pub Date: 3/06/98

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