School, community meet to resolve concerns over planned land purchase

October 30, 1999|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Traffic and open green space surfaced as major issues for Roland Park residents who attended a slide show and meeting Thursday night on the Friends School acquisition of 18 acres of the Baltimore Country Club.

School head Jon M. Harris reassured about 300 people packed into the St. David's Episcopal Church's basement that the school intends to use the land only for athletic fields: eight clay tennis courts, a baseball diamond and two soccer or lacrosse fields.

Addressing side street traffic questions, Harris promised that vans transporting the students from their North Charles Street campus to the Falls Road athletic facilities would travel only along main roads.

Stephen Lauria, president of the Roland Park Civic League, which sponsored the exchange, said the tone of the school head's presentation and the listeners' objections and questions was "balanced. It was a pretty high level of empathy."

Nothing was voted on or decided during the discussion, he said.

Lauria added that the Civic League would appoint an ad hoc committee as early as next week to negotiate with school officials on land use issues. "Then we'll start horse-trading," he said.

Though it has no legal leverage over the school, the neighborhood is seeking long-term restrictions or covenants on the lower fields of the Baltimore Country Club, which the private school agreed to buy last month for $5.1 million.

Harris, Assistant Headmaster Robert Levin and Lillian Freudenberger, chairwoman of the school's board, listened to concerns ranging from lighting, parking and dog-walking.

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