Residents want city park under county control

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Thoughts on issues relating to Anne Arundel County

February 27, 2005

The issue: County and state officials have received complaints for years from area residents about Fort Smallwood Park, a dilapidated, 100-acre park owned by Baltimore City but located in northern Anne Arundel County. Residents say the park has become a haven for drug use, vandalism and violence.

The proposal: Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens says the county should take over the park and has again proposed this to the city. But estimates put the cost of renovating the park at up to $10 million.

Your view: Should the county take over the park or force the city to better care of it?

Sounds like a good investment to me. Especially if the fishing pier is rebuilt. Those of us that live in Anne Arundel County, who do not own boats or have access to our overbuilt shoreline would gladly pay an entrance fee. Farther down the road I can see the campers returning and a public swimming pool.

Bill Priebe Glen Burnie

Yes. I think the park should be acquired by Anne Arundel County, but only if given a free, clear, no-strings-attached deed to the property. Baltimore has proven that they cannot or will not protect and maintain the property.

I think the few city residents, really interested, could still visit the park if they abide by the rules of Anne Arundel County. The county need not restore the park with everything previously there, but revive it with the same type amenities available at Downs, Kinder Farm and Quiet Waters parks. The same type general rules could also apply.

Jesse Fly Hanover

I feel that Anne Arundel County should take over the Fort Smallwood Park from Baltimore City. Obtaining the 100-acre park on the water and hopefully solving citizens' complaints are worth the $10 million renovations and quite a bargain.

Brad Thomas Pasadena

The Venice Civic Association, which represents a community of 200 homes off Fort Smallwood Road, enthusiastically supports the request by Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens and Councilman Ron Dillon that the city of Baltimore transfer Fort Smallwood Park to Anne Arundel County.

Over the years, our community has endured many, many problems with Fort Smallwood Park's management, maintenance, security and safety. These problems include: vehicles entering and leaving the park via Fort Smallwood Road at extremely high rates of speed; numerous all-terrain vehicles and pickup trucks driving off the road at the Park; drivers that have been drinking/partying at the Park racing through our neighborhood streets; unsafe condition of park buildings and piers; and questionable use of a public park by a private jet ski rental company and by private duck hunting parties (park is closed with no advance notice when this occurs).

Furthermore, on the frequent occasions when the Park's gates are opened late or not at all, people seeking to use the park for bird-watching, fishing and swimming often trespass on our private community beach and pond. We usually allow these people to stay because it's hard to tell someone they have to drive all the way back to Baltimore when they have their hearts set on counting hawks or fishing for perch. But our community is getting very tired of taking up the slack for what's been passing as "management" at Fort Smallwood Park.

Doug Ayers

President Venice Civic Association

During the 15 years I lived in Baltimore City, I enjoyed visiting its many parks - from Leakin Park in the west to Patterson Park in the east to Middle Branch Park in the south.

But I had to move to Anne Arundel County before I learned about the existence of one of its most beautiful, yet most neglected, parks: Fort Smallwood. Sadly, it appears that Baltimore City lacks both the will and the means to maintain this historic park.

Fort Smallwood's decay extends far beyond that seen at the city's other park facilities even though its admission charges are much higher, ranging from $4 per car on a normal day to up to $12 per car, biker or hiker on days when it is taken over for car shows and other quasi-private events.

I urge Mayor Martin O'Malley to step up to the plate and take action to save Fort Smallwood now before this irreplaceable piece of Maryland history is lost forever.

Rebecca Kolberg Pasadena

Anne Arundel County should buy and renovate Fort Smallwood Park. It has been rundown, poorly maintained, and a haven for questionable, after-dark activity since the late seventies.

It is solidly in Anne Arundel and logically should be upgraded and maintained by the County. If what I read about the lead paint issues is true, the City should sell it to the County for a nominal amount under the condition that it be thoroughly and environmentally cleaned.

The Park would be a great place to have additional County maintained boat launch facilities. There are surprisingly few public boat launch facilities for a County with as much shoreline and boat ownership per capita as Anne Arundel.

David M. Butler Gibson Island

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