Library, mall are likely for Cooksville Funding sought for proposed park and community center

'It's a good market'

Development would provide large meeting place

October 15, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Western Howard Village Center?

Not quite. But in a few years, western Howard County residents likely will have their first library and a second strip mall at Carrs Mill Road and Route 97 in Cooksville, which borders more heavily populated Glenwood.

Residents also could be playing baseball at a 180-acre park and doing aerobics in a 36,000-square-foot community center within a decade, if funding is approved by the next county executive and the County Council.

Those developments would create the first large-scale meeting place for the mostly spread-out community of western Howard.

"It's centrally located with good access," said Joseph W. Rutter Jr., county planning and zoning director. "This will be more on the neighborhood scale."

Construction of the library is scheduled for late fall, and groundbreaking on the strip mall could start by the end of the year.

The shopping center -- nestled between the park, Route 97 and Carrs Mill Road -- will house typical strip mall businesses, said its planner, Ron Brasher, who hopes to lure a specialty food store.

The center will include separate buildings for a bank and gas station. Brasher needs county approval with a special exception to build the gas station. He said the center will be designed like the park's buildings and focus on drawing commuters and local residents.

"It's a good market," Brasher said. "Retail thrives on drive-by."

Many residents said they are excited at the prospect of a park, library and community center, which would house a gymnasium, seniors activities room and a police substation.

Others said they would reserve their enthusiasm until construction starts.

"It's not that big a topic out here," said Laura Mettle, a Glenwood resident and former PTA president of Bushy Park Elementary School. "I remember going to meetings and seeing plans for a park 12 years ago. Anything can happen."

Anticipating neighborhood concerns about traffic congestion, State Highway Administration engineers said they would install a traffic signal to replace the yellow flashing lights at Carrs Mill and Route 97.

"As that property develops, it will just be a matter of determining at what point a signal will be needed," said John Concannon, assistant district engineer.

The library would open in early 2000, and groundbreaking on the other county buildings is scheduled by 2003, officials said.

"Western Howard needs a facility like this," said Raul Delerme, the project's director for the county Department of Recreation and Parks. "And we have the property to do something."

But building the park and community center depends on getting funding approved.

That worries some residents who say the powerful Columbia recreation lobby could entice officials to fund a recreation complex at the 300-acre Smith farm property, which is bisected by Route 175 in east Columbia, instead of their long-awaited park.

"We're concerned that something could happen there [the Smith property] before it happens here," said Bob Buckler, president of the Warfield Estates Civic Association. "That better not happen. We have nothing compared to what the rest of the county has."

Gary J. Arthur, recreation and parks director, expressed confidence that the complex would move forward as planned.

Pub Date: 10/15/98

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