Keswick to unveil senior center plan

Officials hope meeting will ease concerns about proposed care facility on land in Roland Park

October 14, 2008|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,brent.jones@baltsun.com

Representatives of the Keswick Multi-Care Center intend tonight to address concerns of many Roland Park residents that acres of green space in their neighborhood would be eaten up by a proposed senior facility.

Keswick administrators will publicly unveil their proposal for 17 undeveloped acres that they are buying from the Baltimore Country Club for $12.5 million at a 7 p.m. meeting at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School at 5207 Roland Ave.

The $195 million facility would have 225 independent-living units, 58 assisted-living units and 40 beds for residents in need of skilled nursing. It would employ about 150 people. Initial plans call for 7 acres to remain untouched, with 5 acres devoted to landscaped gardens and 5 acres of development, Keswick officials said.

Since the project was first proposed in June, Roland Park residents have overwhelmingly opposed the plan by staging a protest outside the country club, collecting hundreds of residents' signatures and holding a door-to-door information campaign.

Libby Bowerman, chief executive officer of Keswick, said she was optimistic tonight's discussion would sway public opinion. Bowerman said the main concern she has heard is the potential loss of green space, but Keswick's plan would leave most of the land undeveloped.

"People may come with a preconceived thought, but most will come with questions. And that's what I'm looking forward to: having a chance to answer those questions," Bowerman said.

The proposal requires the approval of the Baltimore City Council, which would have to take up a request to rezone the property to accommodate the retirement community. Bowerman said the proposal is months away from that stage.

Phil Spevak, president of the Roland Park Civic League, said the organization is developing an alternative plan to present to the country club that would leave nearly all the land undisturbed.

Spevak said the purpose of tonight's meeting is to give Keswick a chance to address the residents.

"I expect once they do that, the Civic League will take an announced position. And at this point, based on strong opposition from the community, I expect we'll continue to oppose the development," Spevak said.

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