Cold Spring Lane residents object to plan to expand Loyola College sports facilities

Some fear it would disrupt the area's forest, wildlife

January 25, 1999|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Cold Spring Lane community residents have met with Loyola College and Baltimore officials over a proposal for Loyola to buy undeveloped city land to build athletic facilities near the Jones Falls Expressway.

At a well-attended forum Thursday, several residents protested the prospect of a baseball diamond and three fields -- one with permanent seating for 5,000 spectators -- in an area where bird-watching is popular. They argued that it would disrupt their forest and wildlife, their "country quiet in the city," as Jim Emberger of Park Hill put it.

"This is open space, and it is precious," said Jan Danforth, a lifelong Woodberry resident who remembers when the area was a swimming hole in an old quarry.

Loyola is negotiating with North Baltimore neighborhoods as it seeks to expand.

"There's only so far Loyola can expand into a residential community," said West Baltimore City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., who attended the meeting but did not take a position on the proposed land sale.

Nothing has been made final, including the proposed purchase of 40 to 45 acres of city property south of Cold Spring Lane next to the Northern District police station, which is under construction. It would take two years to develop the fields, which might include artificial turf, city and college officials said.

"We've worked with the city Planning Department from the earliest stage," said Terrence M. Sawyer, the Loyola official who made the presentation.

Sawyer said the meeting's purpose was to gather input. "We want to make this a community-friendly project," he said.

It is not clear whether the facilities for track, lacrosse, baseball and soccer would be open to the public. "We're willing to talk about that," said Sawyer.

Residents raised several environmental concerns, such as parking, noise, protection from JFX fumes and, most important, that the land is a former landfill. One unanswered question came from Terry Harris of the Cleanup Coalition: "Is Loyola assuming liability for the landfill?"

Another came from a boy: "What are you going to do with the dirt when you flatten the hills?"

M. J. "Jay" Brodie, president of Baltimore Development Corp., said that the Loyola plans "sympathetic use to the site." He said at the meeting, "This is a change, no question about it."

Pub Date: 1/25/99

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