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County Looking To Secure Spring Grove Land for Park

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he would like to open a new regional park on 8 acres.

Baltimore County is trying to secure a part of Spring Grove Hospital Center to develop a regional park.

Kamenetz said he has begun the process by talking with state officials.

"In December the county was informed that the state was initiating an intergovernmental review of more than 8 acres of property at Spring Grove Hospital Center," Kamenetz said in a statement. "I immediately directed the county's planning department to submit a formal request for the property on behalf of Baltimore County for use as a regional park."

The press release also said that, on Jan. 7, the county got notice from the state's Assistant Secretary of Planning Linda C. Janey saying there's land on the site along with a building that can be considered surplus. They also recommended "joint uses of the property, by the University System of Maryland and Baltimore County." 

The county will be looking for authorization from the Department of Natural Resources for the use of Open Space funding—from the state—to knock down the Hamilton Building and create the park. 

"It is far too early to talk abouit the specific scope of the project," Kamenetz said in the statement. "There are significant funding issues to address, and we have not had any discussions with UMBC officials yet regarding shared use of the property. However, I did not want this opportunity to pass, and I look forward to working with the state and community members to move this project forward."

Local politicians were delighted at the fact that there could finally be a regional park coming to this area, something that's been desired for a long time. 

"This is a great first step in the process of securing a regional park for the southwest part of the county," said Baltimore County Council Chairman Tom Quirk, who represents the 1st District. "Bringing a regional park to the Catonsville and Arbutus area has been one of my main priorities. This action on the part of the administration brings this park one step closer to reality."

Del. Adrienne Jones also hailed the news, saying it would improve the lack of recreation space in southwest Baltimore County.

Mike Milani is a longtime member of the Catonsville Recreation Council and local sports advocate. He said building a new regional park would be a dream come true.

"The families of the thousands of boys and girls that participate in our programs will do everything they can to work with County Executive Kamenetz to get this project completed," Milani said in a statement.

Sanchez February 15, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Is there a better description or location of the particular acreage? 8 acres? That would be next to or away from the Promenade? Would it be close enough to feed the Promenade with park going spenders? Is 8 acres enough to pacify the people in opposition to the huge monstrosity? Bigger in F2 than Arundel Mills? The Promenade will have 30 acres and the little people get 8. Out of how many? 190? What are the plans for the adjoining "surplus" property? How many acres? Is this going to be apiece meal plan for this end of the county? Or is this last huge parcel of land going to go to the highest bidder a piece at a time? Too many question to settle for 8 measly acres.
Sanchez February 15, 2013 at 11:36 PM
"County Council Chairman Tom Quirk said he believes a park at Spring Grove would increase local residents' property values, give children more recreational space and bring other benefits to the community." http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013-02-14/news/bs-md-co-spring-grove-park-20130217_1_research-and-technology-park-park-plan-elyse-ashburn Really? How? Our Councilperson also wants the Promenade. What will that do to those same property values Mr Quirk? This is nothing more than incrementalism. This is going to be a very active thread.
Sanchez February 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Here is the story in the Baltimore Sun. There is no mention of the Promenade or Mr Whalen. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013-02-14/news/bs-md-co-spring-grove-park-20130217_1_research-and-technology-park-park-plan-elyse-ashburn There can be nothing decided by the local residents OR their elected officials on ANY parcel of SG without Whalen and the Promenade in the discussion. He and our elected officials have for a decade worked on this Promenade and the first 15 or so acres then 30 acres then who knows how many when we get 8 acres that probably includes the existing ball fields. No discussion of SG without The Promenade and Whalen and his friends the legislooters. Who have been shown to have paid illegally in campaign contributions.
Sanchez February 15, 2013 at 11:47 PM
In summary, no division of the 190 acre SG property should be passed, instituted, split or change without a 190 acre plan that we all can read and comment on. No piece by piece by pay for play by pull wool, just the 190 acre plan.
Lorna D. Rudnikas February 16, 2013 at 06:16 AM
The Wilkens Police and Community Relations Organization, has long promoted a move of the Wilkens Precinct to the Spring Grove Property. The current location, although in good proximity to many of the communities it serves, is sorely wanting for space and much improved working conditions. It would be be regrettable to realize that the Wilkens Precinct is not being considered for a move to the Spring Grove property while in the current planning stage. It continues to be our hope that our organization and surrounding communities will have some input into this process. In addition, it is our feeling that no matter what is planned for the acreage, there is a huge safety benefit to welcoming our Wilkens Precinct officers to that site. We have promoted our wish that consideration be given to including the Wilkens Precinct in the planning process and not overlooked for quite a few years...via the office of Senator Kasemeyer, Senator Kelly, Delegate Malone, Delegate DeBoy and Councilman Quirk (as well as Councilman Moxley previously). We continue to look forward to our suggestion being welcomed for a strong review.
Justice February 16, 2013 at 02:47 PM
What is it with man in the U. S. when it comes to LAND? Can't leave it alone? Does EVERYONE realize how many ANIMALS (their habitat) on the property slated for this development? Their home for hundreds of years? How would EVERYONE involved like their backyards invaded and their HOME taken away? You call this progress? To name a few parks in the area, Patapsco State Park 16, 043 acres with 170 miles of trail, Western Hill Park 18.5, Catonsville Community Park 40.2, Benjamin Banneker Historical Park 124.6, include UMBC and CCBC. Plenty of open space to exercise and run. For those who have no voice let the VOICES speak on their behalf. Consider a WILDLIFE SANCTUARY in your plans! Thank You, Justice
Sanchez February 16, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Lorna, Whalen sold land to the County for a court house up off N Rolling Road. He wants 30 acres of SG that could very well have been used for the court house. Whalen gets a WIN WIN. We get sold out. SG property should remain either County or State property and not one square inch should be sold off to developers. Especially a developer who was recently convicted of campaign fraud! Will we reward him for his crime of fraud with a sweetheart deal of 30 acres?
Paul Dongarra February 16, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Apparently, the State & County are leaning towards the MEDCO Report's Option B http://www.facebook.com/groups/42268941926/files/ This 8.8 acre parcel is currently being used to house the areas homeless shelter. NO surprise the first parcel to be surplused is for recreational purposes. The MEDCO plan also shows 22 acres for a mixed use development, 20 acres for UMBC expansion, and 41.5 acres for a new hospital. The plans total 28.8 acres for recreational use is inadequate for the community's needs. Families constantly drive into surrounding counties for recreational ammenities. The State requires 30 acres of open space per 1000 residents. 250 units are outlined by the MEDCO report, for a mixed use development identical to Whalen Properties Promenade. If they have an average occupancy of 2/unit, then approx. half of this new open space will go to these new residents. Executive Kamenetz say the County hasn't had discussions with UMBC? The County's Depts. of REC n Parks and Economic Dev. attended the MEDCO Charette (Meeting of stakeholders months back). The MEDCO report is also referenced in the email's citied by the Office of the Special Prosceutor inditement of Steve Whalen for funneling $7,500 illegally to Quirk. If you are tired of business as usual, take a small step and befriend Catonsville PromeNOT on facebook.
Paul Dongarra February 16, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Sanchez, you make some interesting points. The particular location of this parcel is indeed immediately adjacent to the acreage suggested for mixed use development by the MEDCO report. The county should receive the parcel, but continue to use it as the location of the Westside Homeless Shelter for the time being until other land is surplussed so that a true regional park can be created like the 415 acre Rockburn Park, the 300 acre Blandair Park, Centennial Park, or Cedar Lane Park. Howard County has been doing a great job planning for their recreational needs, http://www.howardcountymd.gov/LPRPPReview.htm Baltimore County cannot say the same thing. It is insincere to call an 8.8 acre parcel a regional park. Our Executive and Councilperson should be insisting that most of the 190 acre at Spring Grove go to what it needs, a large TRUE regional park. In Towson, to meet State open space goals, the County has invested millions in the city owned Robert E Lee Park south of Towson. Perhaps our open space will be deemed to be Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park. If our elected officials, who all receive outrageous sums of money from the proposed developer, believe that this ruse will stifle opposition to the 1.4 million sq. ft. Promenade, they are sorely mistaken.
Cal Oren February 17, 2013 at 04:53 AM
The big scandal here is that Spring Grove has been deteriorated, boarded up, and slowly collapsing for decades, and the State of MD has irresponsibly allowed this incredibly valuable piece of real estate to languish, all the while raising taxes to keep its budget balanced. At this late date to propose spinning off a measly 9 acres as excess is ludicrous. What is needed here - and has been needed for decades - is a comprehensive long-term plan.for this parcel which has an enormous market value, as one of the last large parcels immediately adjacent to the Beltway. Steve Whalen has been a consistent proponent of a comprehensive plan for this entire facility, not just for the relatively small portion that he would like to purchase. The only thing more offensive to the community and the rest of the state than their past inaction, is this transparent effort to throw a bone to voters, who apparently are now supposed to salivate on cue because the proposal contains the word "park."
Jim Jones February 17, 2013 at 06:08 AM
The sad fact with the closing of Spring Grove, not only are there a loss of jobs, but a loss of a much needed psychiatric facility. The historic state hospital, the second oldest continually operating psychiatric hospital in the United States, dates back prior to the American Civil War. On the property are over 1, 000 graves of former patients. Unclaimed by their families, these people were wards of the State, and after their passing, were interred under the Weltmer Bowl baseball field. There are a few marked graves, some nameplates have been removed by vandals. Many others never had markers. Sad, even the dead cannot rest in peace.
Sanchez February 17, 2013 at 03:21 PM
15% is not a "relatively small portion". If he gets his 30 acres, that is 15% of the total 190 acres and even more if calculated with just the amount the State and County have no plans for. If half the 190 is considered for sell off or mix development, Whalen take could be as high as 30%. Is that how people convicted of campaign finance fraud are rewarded by those who he gave illegal cash to?
ED February 17, 2013 at 04:45 PM
The North Point Government Center, a park in Dundalk, is up for sale.County Executive Kamenetz and Councilman John Olszewski, we've heard enough lies! http://www.facebook.com/SaveTheNorthPointGovernmentCenter
ED February 17, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Councilman Quirk, http://www.facebook.com/DundalkUnited
Jim Jones February 17, 2013 at 05:18 PM
I have tried to work with Councilman Tom Quirk and his office on a growing problem with traffic in my neighborhood. Numerous times, pedestrians and motorists have nearly been struck by vehicles traveling the wrong way on a posted one way street. I have been shuffled from agency to agency, promised that action would be taken. No action has been done yet, and still the situation worsens. Looks like it will take a death before the government reacts. Politicians have been out of touch with our communities. And these things will not change. Unless the voter becomes educated, and learns to think for themselves.
Paul Schmidt February 17, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Why can't we have a sports complex for our kids patterned after the Germantown MD facility? How many malls/stores/offices do we need? Let's get indoor and outdoor - basketball, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, football, cross country and walking trails.
Jim Jones February 17, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Catonsville has plenty of parks and trails for the public to use. Are we to say that an all important psychiatric facility that is needed to be closed, hundreds of staff be put out of work, and literally tossing out patients out onto the streets is not as important as another sports field and nature trail which we already have? We need to set our priorities. Spring Grove has been a major part of Catonsville for over 150 years. If you feel the need to walk the trails, there is the former No. 8 and No. 9 Streetcar paths, and the former Catonsville Short Line Railroad path. The former Catonsville Middle School has a new indoor complex, and there are all the schools in the area where people can go. Everyone hides behind the catch phrase "for the children". This is a matter of mental health and public safety that Spring grove remains open, and needs to be expanded.
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT February 17, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Paul - the problem unfortunately is Demographics. To use this all as fields would not work - especially basketball courts. Unfortunately, we are not Severna Park, so I am sure county planners are looking at the groups close to Spring Grove and saying this is a no go - the expense of constant security to control the folks and the litter/drugs and other crime this will bring. Sad as it would be great in this part of BC, but I don't think it would be something that will get done. Fields at the schools around Catonsville not used now as it is - kids just don't go out like they used to.
Cal Oren February 17, 2013 at 07:18 PM
NO ONE is advocating closing down Spring Grove as a hospital and tossing patients out on to the streets! This is a campus that at one time housed 3,000 patients if my memory serves me, and currently houses less than 300. Have you driven around on that campus? 90% of the once-occupied buildings are boarded up. How does this serve anyone? The could consolidate everything into a single multi-story hospital building, probably occupying less than 10 acres including parking, and declare the balance of the property to be what it truly is: surplus.
Lindsay February 17, 2013 at 07:49 PM
what will happen to the Westside homeless shelter? I was there twice over the holidays, and the men were so grateful for the help and compassion they receive from the staff and the community. Some of them have jobs that don't pay enough for them to rent a place, and others are too old or have disabilities that prevent them from working. Many local churches support this shelter. What will happen to it?
Jim Jones February 17, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Steve Whalen has ruined communities everywhere he has properties. With the Promenade prospect, Whalen gains and we lose. The whole argument is corporate greed. Nothing more. While we the taxpayer are shafted again. Whalen does not take care of his properties. Just like the used cars his father once sold in Catonsville years ago that was unsafe at any speed, the younger Whalen and his properties are open cesspools where vandals and other miscreants congregate, and when complaints are made to the company about the problems at the Catonsville Professional Center and Rolling Crossroads, it all falls on deaf ears. So what will happen in another Whalen venture? Increased traffic, increased crime, lower property values, more pollution, strained infrastructure, and more lost business in an already third world relegated Catonsville. Yes, the state is to blame for the deterioration of Spring Grove. But Catonsville will deteriorate if allowed to fall prey to another Whalen development whim. Whalen is no savior for Catonsville. It's all about the money, nothing more.
Jim Jones February 17, 2013 at 09:17 PM
There are two schools of thought if the shelter closes. They may be accepted at another shelter, if it is available, and if the individual meets the criteria. Another state agency may accept some, but not all. A private consortium, or a church may need to step up, and fill the void. It's funny how all the Promenade supporters paint a wonderful picture of how this endeavor will "improve" the lives in Catonsville, yet hide the fact that many will be thrown under the bus to line the pockets of developers. I bet none of the Promenade supporters even care about the thousands of patients buried at Spring Grove. Yeah, give us a park. Yeah, give us another failed mega mall. And we will be satisfied. Bull dookey...
Justice February 18, 2013 at 01:30 PM
You are so right Mr. Jones. Where do all the psychiatric patients go? Closing up the states psychiatric facilities (example Rosewood)... now Spring Grove is not the answer because it's putting the psychiatric patients on the streets left alone to fend for themselves. Who is watching them making sure they are safe, taking medicine, housed in appropriate settings? They become HOMELESS and end up wondering around the Catonsville and surrounding communities unmedicated. Now, how safe for the citizens in the communities? They want to empty out the state psychiatic facilities but put nothing in place to accomodate the patients. Where is the oversight and who will be RESPONSIBLE? The STATE, COUNTY OR BOTH? Yes, it is a matter of mental health and public safety. The problem must be considered and addressed and those involved to be held accountable if harm should befall the psychiatic patient or the average citizen...both vulnerable. Justice
Mike McAuliffe February 18, 2013 at 04:16 PM
I would like to see the County acquire any land deemed to be “surplus” on this site, and none if it sold to private enterprises, except for maybe one acre allocated for refreshment types of businesses (café, ice cream, etc.). I don’t see a need for something as grandiose as the Promenade. Catonsville, Arbutus, and neighborhoods between them have pretty much survived the creeping urban decay that most other older neighborhoods proximate to Baltimore City have succumbed to, and I believe their survival is a result of their residents shying from big development. Some may consider us archaic and non-progressive, but that suits me fine. Many of our ‘archaic’ residents were born in these neighborhoods, some over 80 years ago, and remain civically active to keep it ‘old school’ and locally flavored. Few of the ‘progressive’ neighborhoods that have accepted large development projects, like a mall, retain very few of their longtime residents, because they soon move from the unforeseen problems that come along with this development. Transiency becomes their new norm. Lifelong Arbutus/ Halethorpe resident
Mike McAuliffe February 18, 2013 at 04:16 PM
“If you build it, they will come” is every developer’s motto. True enough, but who will come? Will it be customers with lots of money to spend or will it be lots of people just hangin’ around the newest hot spot with empty pockets. Both arrive at first, but the first to vacate are the ones with lots of money, while the ones to linger are the empty pockets. I prefer neither. Edmonson Village, Westview Mall, Security Mall to mention only the local ones. Keep any “surplus property “in the public’s hands for open space, police station, UMBC, park, school, walking paths, track. Lifelong Arbutus/Halethorpe resident
Geoffrey Atkinson February 18, 2013 at 09:14 PM
This is state government land for state government use. This land should be kept by the state and used as a state government campus. No need to buy new land, no need to clear out more forest, and some of the buildings can be reused. If the County needs new facilities, then perhaps they can build there too if the state decides to let them. The folks talking as if Spring grove is closed should also consider that SG is a fully functioning hospital. No parks, no stores, no promenades. But then again, why should we expect responsible stewardship of our tax dollars?
Jim Jones February 19, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Mr. Atkinson, AMEN! Many of the buildings there can be reused. We don't need another failed mall, or park. Look at the urban blight that has crept out of Baltimore City. Westview Mall, Security Mall, Edmondson Village, and the many parks throughout the area have been turned into hangouts for juvenile delinquents, drug abusers, prostitutes, and other criminals. Even TowsonTowne Center is a hazard. It's our money. Keep the hospital open, and expand it. Bring jobs back to the grove.
nurse at spring grove February 20, 2013 at 10:21 AM
Its all political and financial
Dean Tippett April 01, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Oh Come On! A measley eight acres of that huge property set aside for what we really need. This is crazy!. A nice parking lot will take up the whole eight acres. How many playing fields could actually be built? one? maybe two? We need several and another turf field as well. We will need viewing stands, locker rooms, concession stands, bathrooms, etc. We will need a nice press box, score board and storage for goals, and other equipment. Eight acres is not enough. Start over, read the earlier comments look at how big the Howard County parks are! We need a bigger park with all the required amenities. Please everyone contact your public officials and leave a comment here, in the Catonsville Times and the Baltimore Sun. Can the Promenade be built on just eight acres? Support Catonsville!
Jim Jones April 01, 2013 at 11:38 PM
To all those who want a recreational area to take place at Spring Grove. Ok, let's say we have all these fields, basketball courts, and other sports amenities. Who is going to be resonsible for the upkeep and security? Has anyone seen the way Baltimore County Government "takes care" of the parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields we already have? Piss poor to say the least. Broken bottles, trash, drug paraphernalia, vandalized basketball hoops, and graffitti have ruined the best of intentions. And if Spring Grove is allowed to be transformed into this sports Shangri La, what makes you think that it won't happen there either? No matter which way this issue is going to go, one thing remains constant. Steve Whalen will still be a land baron. Nuff said.

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