Roland Park group to discuss concern about purchase of land

Friends School leader to talk with residents about athletic fields

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

Responding to concerns over the pending Friends School purchase of 18 acres from Baltimore Country Club, Roland Park Civic League will huddle this week to discuss how best to influence what happens to the land.

"What the Roland Park Civic League is trying to get are some agreements as to how the property is used in the future," said League President Stephen Lauria. "The community has not taken a vote as to whether we oppose the deal or not."

Lauria said Roland Park Community Foundation, the financial arm of the league, made a bid of more than $4 million for the property along Falls Road this year.

Last grass tennis courts

Baltimore Country Club accepted the Friends School offer to buy its lower fields and tennis courts -- including the last lawn tennis courts in the Baltimore area -- for $5.1 million last month.

The league mailed invitations to the meeting Thursday to community residents last week. It also invited the head of Friends School, Jon M. Harris, who is expected to attend. Lauria said Harris will present the school's intentions in a "constructive and civil" forum.

The Quaker-founded private school, about a mile from the country club land on North Charles Street, plans to put a baseball field, two soccer or lacrosse fields and a parking lot with 60 spaces on the site. Eight tennis courts would remain, but the grass courts would be converted into soccer fields.

Neighborhood's future

Lauria said the foundation's bid for the property, made when Republican mayoral nominee David F. Tufaro headed the foundation, suggested that "the land be held in conservation and not used for anything except community recreation. The Friends School wants organized fields and recreation."

With traffic, noise and nighttime lights -- typical concerns with a new institutional neighbor -- expected to increase, Lauria said conservation of the neighborhood's character and open space is at stake.

Harris said the reason for the purchase -- which is being finalized -- is to free space on the school's 35-acre campus to build an arts center or a middle school in the next few years.

"The conversion [of the BCC land] won't take too long," Harris said.

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