Grant seals park plans

Construction slated to start this spring with state's $207,000

Council to draft proposals

Hampstead

November 22, 2001|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

With a $207,000 state grant in hand, Hampstead is on its way to building a downtown municipal park.

Anticipating demand for more ball fields, the town bought the 17-acre Brown property between North Carroll Street and Christopher Way in June with plans to build a park. A $326,000 grant from the state's Project Open Space program paid for the land.

The latest grant, from the Maryland Community Parks Program, ensures that construction on the unnamed park will begin this spring, said Kenneth C. Decker, Hampstead town manager. The Town Council will discuss specific plans as early as next month, then hold public hearings on the proposals, he said.

Hampstead residents have wanted more ball fields since the arrival of the huge Sweetheart Cup plant eliminated park space on the edge of town two years ago. For months, town officials have been saying the Brown property would be the town's recreational salvation, and the grants give them more flexibility to proceed with their plans, Decker said.

"It's not a question of if, but when and how we're going to build the park," he said.

Though the project might satisfy residents who want play space, it faces opposition.

At a public hearing last month, residents of Christopher Way said they are worried that visitors would park cars on their street and that drug dealers would stroll through their neighborhood.

"I don't think we've ever done a project that had unanimous public support. There will always be individuals who don't want anything new," Decker said. "But given the choice between a park and 55 residential units, which is the other option for that space, I don't think there's any question what's more attractive to the neighbors."

Hampstead was one of about 200 applicants for the state grants, and was one of 40 communities chosen to receive one. The $207,000 grant was the ninth-largest doled out by the parks program.

Though the grant will start construction, Hampstead leaders said they expect to pay for additions to the park every year for at least a decade.

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