Fanfare opens Glenwood site

Community center to house recreation, health, social events

November 01, 2006|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,sun reporter

More than 300 people packed the huge entrance lobby of Howard County's Glenwood Community Center yesterday to officially open the first county-owned building to meet national standards for energy savings.

People spilled over into the wide, colorful hallways while a pianist tapped out the notes of the Andrews Sisters' big hit, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (Means that You're Grand) to entertain the standing-room-only gathering.

The 56,000-square-foot building on Route 97 next to the Glenwood library uses geothermal energy for heating and cooling and large windows to provide natural lighting.

The $13.8-million building houses a new senior center, plus facilities for recreation and parks, health and police functions, and a room for preschool activities.

A large gym has a walking track along its square perimeter that can be separated from the interior athletic courts by large screens that roll down from the ceiling like window shades. A walker must go around the track 15 times to walk a mile, according to Gary J. Arthur, director of Recreation and Parks. Other rooms are for games, crafts, computers, art, pool and multiple purposes. There is also a central courtyard equipped with tables and benches, a water fountain and umbrella-covered tables for use on good-weather days.

The ribbon-cutting came about 18 months after the groundbreaking for the project, and Democratic and Republican officials mostly put away their campaign rhetoric for the occasion.

County Executive James N. Robey, a Democrat, was praised for pushing the long-sought project to completion by County Council Chairman Christopher J. Merdon, a Republican, who, after talking about his bill to cut seniors' property taxes, introduced Councilman Ken Ulman, a Democrat who is Merdon's rival in the contest for county executive.

Robey noted that the size of the welcoming crowd belied criticism from "those who said we didn't need this in western Howard County."

Western County Councilman Charles C. Feaga, 74, a Republican who is leaving office after 14 years, drew laughs after joking to the crowd that praise he received for being a county institution as a farmer and politician might be a bit misguided. "Some people think I should be in an institution," he said, laughing with the crowd at himself.

Also attending were Kenny Allen, who traveled from Las Vegas, and his sister Penny Gray (who brought her daughter Lauren Gastley); in 1994, their parents William and Rose Allen sold the county their farm on which the center, library and Western Regional Park now sit.

Kenny Allen said he remembered helping to dig the footings for the old family home that once sat on the spot the new building occupies.

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