County donates use of green space to Scouts

Lothian's 182-acre Sands Road Park to be renovated

October 19, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,SUN REPORTER

A former rubble landfill-turned-county park in southern Anne Arundel will become a new home for area Boy and Girl Scouts beginning tomorrow, when more than 500 Scouts will christen the site with a two-day camping event.

County officials have entered into an open-ended agreement with local chapters of the Boy Scouts of America, giving them access to more than half of the 182-acre Sands Road Park in Lothian. The agreement provides the impetus for Boy, Girl and Cub Scouts and Venture Crews to improve the park, which is rarely used.

"It doesn't get much better than this," said Frank Marzucco, director of parks and recreation. "Even though the Scouts have entered into this use agreement, the community will have access for use of the site as well."

Scouts held large-venue events at Fort Smallwood Park in Pasadena until about two years ago, when it was purchased from Baltimore City and designated as one of the county's regional parks. The site underwent a massive cleanup and facelift, but the Scouts got squeezed in favor of broader uses.

After experimenting with other venues, scouting leaders asked County Executive John R. Leopold if any other sites were available. They began exploring the Sands Road park and saw a good fit, Marzucco said.

At Sands Road, "you can stand in the middle of that field and feel like you're in the middle of nowhere," said Jonathan Brown, a district director for the Boy Scouts of America. "In Maryland, that's getting rarer and rarer. To stay within the county is great."

Hugh Travis, president and Scout executive of the Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said the Scouts will repay the county.

"It's a generous contribution, and in return we will provide some manpower to improve it, continue to clean it and make improvements to the property."

The site presently is nothing more than a basketball court and acres and acres of open space.

The county considered using the land for multipurpose athletic fields, but that need was lessened with money budgeted to bring the number of lighted fields from 21 to 36.

"I didn't see the same level of need for athletic fields at this site, albeit we've retained half in case we decide to move forward," Marzucco said.

Volunteers and the county Department of Recreation and Parks have made road improvements and checked the site's well water system to spruce up the park.

Tomorrow, more than 500 scouts from Anne Arundel County's Four Rivers District, one of two Boy Scout districts in the county, will cover the site with 250 tents while participating in skill-building tasks as part of an event called "Woodsmoke," in which Scouts instruct younger Webelos in the Boy Scout traditions.

Future events will feature as many as 2,000 Scouts, organizers said.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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