Land may fill need for space at Loyola College has interest in former landfill for athletic fields

September 23, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

A former landfill south of Coldspring New Town may become an intercollegiate sports complex for Loyola College in Maryland, if administrators there can reach agreement with the Baltimore Development Corp. on terms for gaining control of the city-owned property.

In its fall newsletter, the development agency announced that Loyola has proposed the creation of a 43-acre sports complex that would include "a practice field, a game field with seating, baseball fields, an ice rink, a field house and surface parking." According to the agency, "the project is slated for 1999."

Loyola spokesman Mark Kelly confirmed that college representatives have expressed interest in the irregularly shaped parcel, which is bounded roughly by Cold Spring Lane on the north, the Jones Falls Expressway on the east and Television Hill on the south. But he said that talks are at a preliminary stage.

"Loyola is always interested in looking at property," he said. Because much of the site is a former landfill, "we don't know

what can go there."

The college currently has a large, artificial turf-covered sports field on the north side of Cold Spring Lane, just east of Charles Street. For many years, that property has been a source of concern to neighboring property owners, who have complained about crowds, noise and lights. In addition, the field takes up prime real estate that could be used to expand of academic facilities.

The Cold Spring property is approximately one mile west of Loyola's Evergreen campus on Charles Street and just south of land where the city is building a new Northern District police station. The state's Mass Transit Administration wants to build a large parking lot nearby for its light rail station, after Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. dismantles a natural gas tank that's visible from the Jones Falls Expressway.

Asked whether Loyola would move all of its athletic fields to the Cold Spring site or use it to supplement its current facilities, Kelly said the college is still exploring its options.

Community representatives say the plan could benefit both the college and the surrounding area by giving the college expansion space away from existing residences.

"It could be a very good thing," said Alex Short, president of the North Baltimore Neighborhood Coalition, a organization of communities surrounding Loyola College.

"It seems to some of us that Loyola has had some limitations with respect to its ability to expand, and one thing that seems to have suffered is its athletic fields, because there's no place to put them.

"This land would give them the room they need," Short said.

Loyola's plans could dovetail nicely with community plans to build a public trail along the Jones Falls, said Sandra Sparks, co-chair of the Jones Falls Watershed Association.

Sunday's public celebration of the falls, which drew 5,000 bikers, skaters and pedestrians to a three-mile stretch of the Jones Falls Expressway that was closed for the event, "demonstrated the recreational value of the Jones Falls, so I think there is a great tie-in," Sparks said.

"Our greenway would go right through that area, so it would be a nice auxiliary use," Sparks said. "It also brings abandoned property back into use, while maintaining it as green space. It makes a lot of sense."

The Coldspring-South landfill was active in the 1970s and closed when it reached capacity in the early 1980s. It was once reserved for expansion of Coldspring New Town, the residential community designed by Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, but it was never developed for that purpose. In recent years, city officials have begun to consider other options for it.

The sports complex would be the latest of several ambitious capital projects that Loyola is launching for students and faculty.

The college has begun construction of a new home for its Sellinger School of Business and Management and an addition to its Donnelly Science Center. It recently opened a new graduate center in Timonium and has an option to buy land elsewhere in Baltimore County for a retreat. And next month it plans to tear down the old Boumi Temple on Charles Street to make way for a $20 million recreation center.

Pub Date: 9/23/98

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