Arthur defends park in western Howard
In the interest of accuracy, please let me set the facts straight with regard to a number of statements made by Delegate Warren Miller in last week's Letter to the Editor concerning Howard County's Western Regional Park.
Delegate Miller said: "The Howard County Recreation and Parks folks appear to be ignoring where the people live that will utilize lighted ball fields."
The fact is: There are over 6,000 youth registered in western Howard County sports leagues, all of which compete for the limited number of athletic fields at existing park and school sites in the area.
Delegate Miller said: "The $2.8 million could have been earmarked for needed school renovations."
The fact is: The money for the Western Regional Park is program open space money and cannot be used for anything other than park projects.
Delegate Miller said: "Schooley Mill and Alpha Ridge are just two examples of County Park projects that appear to be underutilized."
The fact is: The primary users of these parks are youth and adult organized sports teams that reserve fields mostly in the spring and fall on evenings and weekends. At certain times of the day and year, there may "appear" to be less activity. However to gain a full appreciation for the actual use of these parks they should be observed when children are not in school, and on evenings and weekends.
Delegate Miller said: "Additionally, we have been told that the County really needs to build a $1.6 million indoor hockey arena because 57 people out of 500 surveyed said they would like such a facility.
The fact is: The master plan for Western Regional Park includes a "covered roller hockey rink" not an indoor hockey arena. It is an open-air pavilion over a concrete rink that will also accommodate basketball and volleyball.
The need for this facility was determined not by the survey to which Delegate Miller refers, but by the growing demand within the community for "roller" hockey facilities. The survey response he refers to was in support of ice skating and/or ice hockey.
Delegate Miller said: "The rather haphazard planning being demonstrated by county Recreation and Parks does not meet this (the spending of taxpayer dollars effectively and efficiently) test."
The fact is: The provision of recreation facilities is clearly articulated in our Department's Comprehensive Recreation, Parks and Open Space Plan which is mandated by the State of Maryland. It is the product of a long and very open public process.
Our plan is endorsed by the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, the Planning Board, and the County Council - all public bodies, before whom the public is again welcome to offer testimony.
Delegate Miller said: "The funding for these Howard County projects is state money, not county dollars."
The fact is: The funding for Howard County projects is not just "State money." The County also makes a significant contribution. In the case of Western Regional Park, the County has contributed 36% toward design and construction through fiscal year 2005.
I appreciate this opportunity to provide your readers with more accurate information regarding this important community project. If Howard residents have questions about our projects or their funding, they can call 410-313-4700 for accurate information.
Director, Howard County Dept. of Recreation and Parks [More Letters to the Editor on next page.]