ANNAPOLIS – Three Western Maryland counties will get about $500,000 to maintain and expand local parks, the Board of Public Works announced Wednesday.
The three-man board, led by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, approved the Program Open Space funds to both reimburse ongoing park building efforts and fund new park programs.
The state’s action will preserve the Holly Avenue Recreation Area, located in LaVale. The board approved about $170,000 for Allegany County to purchase the site.
Currently owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore and leased for almost four decades to the LaVale Athletic Association, Holly Avenue was in a prime location for residential development, said Patricia Manown, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The area surrounding the park is increasingly built up, Manown said. If the park’s land had been offered on the open market as the archdiocese had planned, it would have very likely been sold and covered with houses.
And losing the park would have been a heavy burden for the local community, Manown said. Several generations of LaVale residents have depended on its sports fields for children’s soccer leagues and other forms of public recreation, she said.
Holly Avenue was originally purchased as a future site for a church, said Bob Kern, an attorney who manages church properties. But as the local population changed, Kern said the archdiocese decided that plan was no longer viable.
Sale to the county was a happy event for the church, Kern said, because the archdiocese’s preference was for the people who used the land for recreation to continue using it.
The Holly Avenue purchase has additional benefits for Allegany County, said planner Dave Dorsey. Maintaining the park fits into the county’s plan to manage its flood plains, Dorsey said. About a third of the park is adjacent to Braddock Run.
Other Program Open Space projects approved by the board:
* $200,000 will service Allegany County’s debt incurred to develop a public golf course at Rocky Gap State Park, said George Forlifer, an administrator with Program Open Space. Some sections of the course, construction of which has been hampered by erratic weather, will open in the summer of 1998, he said.
* About $55,000 will go to construct a new pavilion and improve recreational facilities at Washington County Regional Park.
* $27,000 will go to build a pavilion and concession area at Grantsville Community Park in Garrett County. Program Open Space, established in 1969, funds conservation and park construction state wide. It is supported by a one-half percent real estate transfer tax. -30-