ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Board of Public Works Wednesday approved spending nearly $1.8 million to help Montgomery County acquire 10 acres of land in Silver Spring to develop as Blair Local Park.
The park would occupy part of the 42-acre parcel known as the Kay Tract between Colesville Road and University Boulevard near the Capital Beltway. The land, the largest undeveloped tract remaining in Silver Spring, has been a source of controversy since a plan was proposed to build a new Montgomery Blair High School on the site.
Plans for the park include an indoor community center, a stadium soccer/football field, a stadium baseball field and a softball field, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The park “will serve at least 30,000 citizens with year round indoor recreation programs and fields of play for all age groups,” Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan wrote in a letter to Gov. Parris N. Glendening.
The Board of Public Works, made up of the governor, treasurer and comptroller, had asked Duncan to submit a letter indicating his support for the park after discussions Monday.
“Blair Park is important to Montgomery County and the citizens of this area. I urge your support of the project,” Duncan wrote.
The park could be developed in conjunction with the Blair High School construction. The proposal to build on the Kay Tract was originally recommended despite objections from local residents over increased traffic and environmental impacts. County Councilman Neil Potter, the former county executive, has asked informally for the county to revisit the issue.
The parks department ultimately would administer the park, said Bill Greis of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
“The priority use will go to the school for interscholastic activities,” Greis said.
However, the fields would be available for the community when the school did not need them, Greis said. “We feel it’s a very important facility for the community,” he said.
A 1988 Parklands Needs Study identified a lack of available recreational areas in Silver Spring.
Should the school construction proposal ultimately not pass, the 10 acres will still become a park, Greis said. “The two are not really tied together,” he said.
The land will be acquired at a cost of $2.35 million, or about $235,000 per acre, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The money to acquire the park land was allocated through both county funds and the statewide Program Open Space. The program, begun in 1969, helps acquire and develop open spaces.
Two other Montgomery County Open Space projects were approved Wednesday:
* $595,000 for a 11.9-acre parcel in Germantown, the sixth of seven purchases planned for North Germantown Special Park. * $344,050 to purchase 3.21 additional acres for Fairland Recreational Park north of White Oak. -30-