8 more playing fields to receive artificial turf

BALTIMORE COUNTY DIGEST

December 14, 2007

Baltimore County, which has put artificial turf on two playing fields as part of a pilot program, will install the synthetic surface at eight more locations as part of an $8.5 million initiative.

The locations will be announced today at the dedication of the artificial turf field at Seminary Park in Lutherville.

Seminary Park's field is the second in the county to receive artificial turf as part of a pilot program to improve playing conditions at heavily used school and park fields. The county first installed the artificial surface on a field at Catonsville High School last year.

Response to the new turf has been overwhelmingly positive from recreation councils and schools, said Angela Heffner, a county spokeswoman.

"It is used round the clock, and the county has received more positive comments on it than on any other improvement made in the Catonsville area," she said.

While the field at Seminary Park has not been used yet, Heffner said the county's Recreation and Parks Department has had many calls from athletic groups wanting to sign up for games and tournaments there.

Work on the field at Seminary Park was begun in early August and was completed two weeks ago. It will be used for football, girls field hockey, and boys and girls lacrosse and soccer. The field, the size of a football field with goal posts at each end, is marked for each type of game, Heffner said.

Officials say artificial turf extends the ability of teams to play year-round and in all kinds of weather, and it provides a more consistent playing surface with fewer injuries. It also requires less maintenance and water use.

While most of the funding for the project came from the county, $1.5 million came from Maryland's Program Open Space and $250,000 came from Maryland Community Parks and Playgrounds. The Lutherville/Timonium Recreation Council also donated $200,000 toward the artificial turf at Seminary Park, Heffner said.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. is to dedicate the field at 11 a.m. The park is at 1410 Burton Ave.

Ellie Baublitz

Towson

$500 million in development planned

More than $500 million in development is planned for the Towson area in the next several years, county officials said yesterday.

Officials highlighted plans for new condominiums, apartments, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues in the county seat. They said yesterday that the Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang's China Bistro will open at one of the projects, the expansion of Towson Town Center.

Officials also discussed the county's commitment to cracking down on underage drinking and illegal boarding houses in the Towson area.

Jennifer Choi

Government

Gilliss picked to lead Planning Board

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. has selected Edward J. Gilliss, former county attorney and vice chairman of the Baltimore County Planning Board, to succeed Frank O. Heintz as the board's chairman.

Heintz will leave the board when his term expires Dec. 31. Heintz is moving out of the area for family reasons, county officials said.

Gilliss has served as the board's vice chairman since July. He is a longtime county resident who practices law at Royston, Mueller, McLean and Reid in Towson. Smith noted Gilliss' broad experience in law and in civic and community organizations as a significant factor in his decision.

Smith also selected board member Robert Gregory Jr. to replace Gilliss as vice chairman. Gregory, a longtime county resident who has been on the board since 2003, is president and chief executive officer of Gregory Financial Services. He also serves on the county Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Planning Board consists of 15 volunteer members, who serve three-year terms. Each of the seven County Council members appoints a board member from each district. The county executive appoints the other eight members and nominates the chairman and vice chairman, subject to confirmation by the County Council.

Nominees sought for King awards

The Baltimore County Office of Fair Practices and Community Affairs is accepting nominations for its third Baltimore County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Content of Character Awards.

The award honors Baltimore County residents (adults or youths, males or females) who strive to follow the model described in King's "I Have A Dream" speech.

Nomination forms are available at any Baltimore County public library and online at http:--resources.co.ba.md.us/Documents/N ews/ccharacternominationform.pdf.

The deadline for nominations is Jan. 8. Honorees will be notified after that date, and Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith will present the awards Jan. 18.

Information: 410-887-5557.

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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