County ready to open 3 parks


Officials are relieved

facilities come on line as many sports fields are lost for the spring


There will be more room for children and adults to play sports in Howard County as three parks containing athletic fields are scheduled to open in the coming weeks.

The long-awaited Western Regional Park is the largest, and the 190-acre park should be open for games by April 15 with fields for all kinds of sports. Meadowbrook Park, covering 85 acres, is expected to be ready at about the same time and will have fields for different sports.

The county has been working on both projects for a long time.

Smaller facility

In addition, High Ridge Park is expected to open in June. The 7-acre facility won't have as many fields or courts for sports or local leagues, but it will feature a large open-play area that can be used for different activities.

Mike Milani, sports supervisor for the county's Department of Recreation and Parks, said the opening of the new facilities couldn't have come at a better time. Sports leagues need places to play immediately.

"For this spring, it makes our life a lot more manageable," Milani said. "If we didn't have those new parks opening ... we'd definitely have had to turn a lot of kids away."

Loss of fields

Milani said the county lost several fields this spring. It cannot schedule games at Glenwood Park because of construction of an elementary school there.

The county also lost six diamonds and three multipurpose fields in the Glenwood Park and Bushy Park Elementary/Glenwood Middle School area.

In addition, the county will have limited use of Mount View Middle School's fields because Marriotts Ridge High School's teams are practicing there.

When the new facilities open, the county will have six regional parks and 30 parks overall.

Here's a look at the three parks:

Name: Western Regional Park

Location: Off Route 97 and Carrs Mill Road

Opening date: April 17

Cost: $15.7 million

Size: 190 acres

Why people will go: There will be two synthetic turf fields that can be used for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and football. Both of the fields will have lights, and because they're synthetic, game cancellations -- a factor for nearly every recreation league that plays on grass -- will be rare. Three baseball/softball fields also should be ready at that time, with one being lighted. In addition, the park will have two basketball courts, one playground area and a concession/restroom building. There should be more fun next spring when three more multipurpose grass fields are finished, along with a smaller baseball field. Regardless of how popular other facilities are at Western Regional, the synthetic turf fields should prove to be the county's best investment at this park.

The county's thoughts: A. Raul Delerme is a Recreation and Parks park planner who is hoping for big things from this park. "With the synthetic turf fields, we can pretty much play in any weather. [We] will definitely be able to spread out programming to be able to accommodate more play."

Name: Meadowbrook Park

Location: Southeast corner of U.S. 29 and Route 100 off Meadowbrook Lane

Opening date: April 15

Cost: $7,517,000

Size: 85 acres

Why people will go: There are many things for people to use here: three regulation baseball/softball fields plus a large open field area (for multipurpose use) will be available. There also will be two basketball courts, a large playground area, two tennis courts plus two pavilions. In addition, there will be a walking path system covering 2 1/2 to 3 miles to relieve pressure on the heavily used walking paths at Centennial Park. Construction could start this fall on an indoor recreation facility that will have two areas -- one with indoor turf for soccer and the other containing a hard court for sports such as basketball, volleyball or in-line hockey.

The county's thoughts: "We've [also] been working on this for several years," Delerme said. "The walking paths will be a neat system that will take people down by the wetlands."

Name: High Ridge Park

Location: At the end of Superior Avenue in North Laurel

Opening date: June

Cost: $2,197,000

Size: 7 acres

Why people will go: The park is in a heavily wooded area of about 94 acres, 7 of which will be developed. There will be a large children's playground, a tennis court, basketball court, picnic shelter, volleyball area plus a restroom, picnic tables, paved walking trail and an open play field. There also will be a gazebo for bird watchers

The county's thoughts: "It's the type of park that you could walk to or ride your bicycle in," said Clara Gouin, park planner. "It borders the Patuxent River."

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