Reasoning shines for lights at Western Regional Park

PLAYING AROUND

Howard At Play

January 14, 2001|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND

COUNT THE votes, County Exec Jim Robey and you County Council members. Sure, listen to people such as Jack Goetz, Howard Rensin, Jeff Lanuza and Aliceanne Alden, for doing so is important, even if they do miss some large points when it comes to playing fields and lights for Western Regional Park, which is to open in 2003.

But, dear politicians, listen just as openly and fairly to representatives of Western Howard County Youth Baseball and Softball, the Western Howard County Youth Soccer League, the Thunder Soccer Club and youth football and lacrosse leaders. They represent about 5,000 kids and adults playing sports; they need those fields, like tomorrow. They're not unreasonable taxpayers.

And then count the votes.

The votes within just those sports groups, which perform public good that influences generations in teaching young people how to deal with one another and create community, far outweigh those represented by a few western Howard County NIMBYs who opposed lighted fields during a rec and parks hearing Wednesday. Some even disrupted public discourse several times by chanting "Move to Columbia" as field supporters spoke. That's real civil and neighborly behavior.

In one simple sentence: Lighted playing fields are a valid use of public money for Western Regional Park.

Mr. Goetz, you told folks at Wednesday's hearing the sound of a car on Route 97 at night bothers you. Gee, many hundreds of countians near Interstates 70 and 95, U.S. 1 and 29, and Routes 32, 100 and 175 must be chuckling over that. A few ball fields won't generate anything near that kind of traffic or noise.

Ms. Alden, parks and ball fields do not create commercial mish-mashes such as the intersection of Routes 108 and 32 in Clarksville. Period. Check out Rockburn Branch, Centennial, Cedar Lane, and Savage parks, ma'am.

Mr. Rensin, you allege that the rec people "are going to light up this whole end of the county." Give us a break, sir.

And Mr. Lanuza, the Prince George's County police officer who lives in Glenwood and spoke of Columbia's pathways, what unmitigated hysteria you contributed Wednesday. "Trust me, those [paths] are felony freeways," you said.

Catchy but simply not so, according to your Howard County fraternal brethren, who keep crime statistics on Columbia's 80-plus miles of pathways. Not so by personal experience of this writer, either, after living in four sections of Columbia over 28 years. We're daily pathway users - sometimes after dark, even. Trust us, they're safe, even if crime does occur occasionally at scattered hot spots. Crime happens occasionally, too, throughout McMansionville - even Glenwood. You need to be aware everywhere in 2001.

Besides, what do Columbia's pathways have to do with ball fields at Western Regional Park?

"Exactly nothing" is the answer you politicians should be saying to yourselves as you count the votes.

3v3 quest

Ellicott City youth soccer coach Ron Barber and five county boys - two from Ellicott City, two from Columbia and one from Elkridge - are at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla., this weekend under the banner of the Baltimore Football Club.

They're in quest of a national under-10 title in the Sunny Delight 3v3 Soccer Shootout National Championships. The event, pitting three-player teams against one another in a nice test of skills, began in more than 60 locales nationally last year and now, counting all age groups, from youth to adult, is down to 655 teams.

The elder Barber took over directorship last year of the Baltimore area's 3v3 tournament for the Soccer Association of Columbia/Howard County, which conducted it for the first time.

The local contingent in Orlando includes Barber's son, Jaime, Vincent Garafolo, Evan Passarelli, Adam Santiago and Jonathan Stephenson.

Working it off

In this annual period of renewed resolve to lose pounds and shape up comes some surprisingly simple advice from Columbia certified personal trainer Mary Concannon:

"Even irregular activity is better than no activity at all. ... Aim to be physically active for 30 minutes a day, and remember that the 30 minutes can be broken into shorter periods of eight to 10 minutes or more."

Concannon makes that pitch on her Web site, www.upandmoving.com, which includes a regular fitness newsletter. From this month's entry, these excerpts for breaking your sedentary lifestyle:

Instead of making piles of stuff at the bottom of the steps to take up in one trip, "be inefficient and take as many flights of stairs as possible throughout the whole day."

When you're spending hours at your desk or computer, "set a timer for every 30 to 45 minutes, and get up and take a brief walking or stretching break."

Instead of staying tied to the telephone for long conversations, "get a cordless headset and move more during the call."

Call the writer at 410-332-6525 or address e-mail to lowell.sunderland@baltsun.com.

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