Balto. County park to be saved State agrees to purchase of city-owned land

October 15, 1998|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Assuring that a northeast Baltimore County park will be preserved and not become a sports complex, state officials agreed yesterday to the purchase of the 181-acre city-owned site in Cub Hill.

The $1.5 million cost of the land, known as Graham Memorial Park, will be split between the state and Baltimore County, which has set aside state money to protect the park's rolling pastures and wooded glens from development in the rapidly growing corridor.

"We're delighted that Governor [Parris N.] Glendening found the money to preserve this area of the state that is important to the county," said Michael H. Davis, spokesman for County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger. "It took a while to get it done. But it finally did."

For years, Graham Park -- which had been given to the city in 1954 by Albert D. Graham, a Baltimore bank official -- was secluded haven off the 10100 block of Harford Road used by nature lovers, equestrians and archers.

When city officials announced plans last year to turn the land into a $6.5 million sports complex -- complete with a golf course -- residents and county officials decried the move.

"Now we don't have to worry about it being developed or houses coming in or what the city will do," said Democratic state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, who helped orchestrate the agreement. "For $1.5 million, we got a tremendous deal."

Settlement of the property could take place within 45 days after the city approves the sale. The city has not determined how it will spend the windfall, said Alonza Williams, a spokesman for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

The state will use funds from the Department of Natural Resources Program Open Space to buy the parcel that borders Gunpowder Falls State Park. The money was approved yesterday by the three-man state Board of Public Works.

According to the terms of yesterday's sales agreement, the park would continue to be used for public recreation. The contract forbids a golf course or driving range, batting cages, amusement rides, video games, ice skating and roller rinks and firearm shooting.

"It is the ideal location for DNR to expand environmental education programs, such as nature hikes, bird walks, wildflower walks, canoe trips and campfire programs," said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin.

Other plans could include junior ranger programs and safety education courses, he said.

"That sounds good to us," said Dan Doerer of Carney, president of the Baltimore Bowmen, a 100-member archery group that has used the park since 1961. "We've mainly been keeping our fingers crossed and hoping we can stay like we are."

Yesterday's agreement also calls for month-to-month leases with the Bowmen and an equestrian school that operates on the property.

"We would be happy for it," said Doerer, adding that his group tried unsuccessfully for years to renew leases with the city. "We were the forgotten tribe."

Pub Date: 10/15/98

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