Proposals from Annapolis, Cecil Co. chosen as horse park site finalists

Selection is scheduled to be made next month

August 24, 2005|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Stadium Authority has chosen proposals from Annapolis and Cecil County as finalists for the site of the Maryland Horse Park.

Preliminary plans call for a 5,000-seat arena, an outdoor amphitheater and a museum in a setting that will be modeled after a similar park in Lexington, Ky.

"We were pleased with all the enthusiasm," Alison L. Asti, the authority's executive director, said yesterday. "We chose the space and terrain that was most suitable for all the equestrian uses, large and contiguous."

Cecil County has proposed putting the park at Fair Hill, a 5,613-acre, state-owned natural resource center near Interstate 95 that hosts more than 100 equestrian events each year.

Vernon J. Thompson, Cecil County's economic development director, has said that with 75 miles of riding trails, the facility in the middle of well-known horse country is "good to go" to become the center of East Coast equestrian events and competitions.

The Annapolis proposal includes the 1,032-acre, state-owned Crownsville Hospital site, the 56-acre, state-owned Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, the 654-acre, city-owned Waterworks Park and the 875-acre Naval Academy dairy farm. Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said yesterday that the state capital offered a combination of "location and vision." The site is in Crownsville, near Interstate 97.

Asti said the selection committee and design advisers plan to visit the Annapolis and Cecil County sites in the next few weeks before a final selection is made in mid-September. A decision must be made this summer so that authorizing legislation can be brought before the 2006 General Assembly.

Asti said the two sites share several attributes that the committee considered critical, such as an area greater than 500 contiguous acres; easy access to major interstate highways and hotels and restaurants; and a rural environment mixed with a resourceful use of public land.

Four other jurisdictions - Harford, Carroll, Frederick and Wicomico counties - had submitted proposals by the state's Aug. 1 deadline.

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