Park School gets land for athletic fields

Family donates 65 acres

nature center also planned

March 18, 2002|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County family has donated the use of 65 acres in Green Spring Valley to Park School for athletic fields and a science and nature center.

The land, part of a 125-acre farm owned by Lucille Sugar and her late husband, Gordon, a developer of custom homes, has been used for farming since before the Civil War, said their daughter, Susan Sugar Nathan, a local lawyer. The remaining acreage will continue to be leased for farming.

Nathan, a Park School alumna and parent of two students there, said the idea of using the land for fields and a nature center came from her father five years ago. Gordon Sugar died two years ago.

"My father loved and respected the land," Nathan said. "This was a way to continue the rural character. We considered this a gift to the Park School because they have been very good to us."

Park School, a coeducational day school with 875 students from age 4 through 12th grade, sits on 100 acres on Old Court Road. The 65 acres, to be known as the Sugar Campus, is two miles north of the school on Hillside Road, between Greenspring Avenue and Stevenson Road.

The land is being leased for 99 years under an agreement, called a gift lease because it requires no payments by the school. The lease is renewable for 99 years.

David E. Jackson, head of Park School, said four athletic fields will be constructed on part of the 65 acres. The fields will be used for baseball, softball and lacrosse in the spring and soccer and field hockey in the fall.

"This is a very big gift," Jackson said. "It is unprecedented in terms of land, and we are overwhelmingly grateful. The acreage doubles the capacity for athletic programs in the spring and fall.

"The Sugar family has a long association with Park, and its generosity will benefit students for years to come," Jackson said.

At a time when many private schools are struggling to find space for athletic fields, the use of the land is significant.

"As our new athletic center gives us optimal setup for winter sports and athletic training, the Hillside Road property is the optimal site for fall and spring sports," said Ridge Diven, Park's athletic director. "When the property is fully up and running, we will have a total of nine fields at two sites to fulfill the needs of our sports program and the interests of our students."

Nathan said the fields will benefit Park and its students, and strengthen the athletic program while respecting the environment.

"My mother and I are very happy to see an idea conceived by my father achieved," she said.

Most of the property will remain in its natural state, including wetlands, meadows and forest. About 10 acres will be used for the fields. Jackson said long-term plans include a nature and science center at the site.

One of the fields at the Sugar Campus will be used this spring. The first baseball game of the season will be played there Friday. The remaining three fields will be ready by fall.

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