Towson stadium concerns neighbors University expansion spurs questions on traffic, noise

November 16, 1998|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Towson University's plan to double the size of its sports stadium and open it to outside events has some neighbors worried about their communities being overrun with traffic and noise.

The Rodgers Forge Community Association voted last week to "not favor" the $28 million project, and other neighborhood groups say they are concerned that the growing university is encroaching on their communities.

"This is a town of 60,000 people, and we don't want the university to eat it up and drive down our property values," said Robert Rinaldi, secretary of the Towson Manor Village Association.

Rinaldi said he was concerned about Towson's description of the expansion as a "regional sports complex" open to non-university events.

"If the university wants to build a new stadium for its teams, that's one thing, but we're against the multipurpose use," Rinaldi said.

Towson University's plans, detailed at a meeting last week, call for the addition of 5,500 seats to the 5,000-seat stadium; adding a four-level field house that would provide locker rooms and meeting facilities; expanding concessions; and replacing a grass playing field with artificial turf.

The changes are needed, in part, because the university has entered a new sports conference and wants to be more competitive, said Wayne Edwards, Towson University's athletic director.

The school has enlisted the help of the Maryland Stadium Authority and plans to petition the General Assembly for funds in the coming session.

"We've had little negative reaction," Edwards said.

The Greater Towson Council of Community Associations hasn't taken a position on the proposal.

Nancy Horst, director of the Towson Partnership -- a group representing community associations, businesses and institutions -- said the plan "looks very exciting and very ambitious."

Some Towson community leaders say they like the plan.

"I'm certainly for it. It will get the school more on the map," said Joe Brennan, president of the Burkleigh Square Community Association.

But the plan is less popular in Rodgers Forge and Towson Manor Village, which are closest to the stadium.

In addition to noise and traffic, residents there are concerned that more people will park on their streets and alleys, and they question whether water and sewage service is adequate to serve the larger stadium.

Even the current stadium is a nuisance at times, said Donald Gerding, a community activist and Rodgers Forge resident. He said a recent state high school band competition at the stadium kept his neighborhood up until nearly midnight with music and cannon fire. The next weekend, residents were awakened by early morning band and cheerleading practice.

"It was really, really disturbing," he said.

Although university officials pledged to work with residents as the plans progress, some community leaders were dubious.

Arnold Greenspun, president of the Rodgers Forge Community Association, described as "fluff" a meeting in which university officials presented their plans to the neighborhood.

"We want more information," he said. "We will make sure we get the right answers."

Rinaldi said the announcement that the stadium would become a regional sports complex open to outside tournaments and events took him by surprise.

"I don't think they give enough credible thought to the community impact," he said.

Residents said they don't expect to defeat the expansion plan, but say they are seeking modifications to lessen its impact on the neighborhood.

"Most of these things will happen," Gerding said. "But we want to make sure our concerns are addressed."

Pub Date: 11/16/98

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