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Baltimore County announces plans to use Spring Grove property as regional park in Catonsville

Kevin KamenetzFitnessUniversity of Maryland Baltimore CountyTom Quirk

The 8.8-acre site that includes the Hamilton Building on the campus of the Spring Grove Hospital Center has been declared surplus by Maryland Assistant Secretary of Planning Linda Janey, according to a press release from Baltimore County.

That designation is the final step in a long process that involves several state government agencies and is required before state property can be sold,

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced Thursday that he hopes to secure those 8.8 acres framed by Maple Avenue and Walnut Circle on the 189-acre Catonsville campus for use as a regional park.

According to a history of Spring Grove, the Hamilton Building was built in 1953 and was originally known as the Admissions Building.

According to the release, the county is consulting with the Department of Natural Resources to receive funding to demolish the building and construct the park.

"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," Kamenetz said in the release.

First District Councilman Tom Quirk, who is in Florida for a business conference, said he was happy to hear about the potential recreational use for the property in his district.

"I've been very clear from day one that if any land was ever surplused at Spring Grove I would advocate strongly for a regional park.," Quirk said in an email Thursday. "I'm working closely with County Executive Kamenetz who also shares this vision.

"This won't happen overnight, given tight budget constraints," Quirk said in an e-mail. "But I want to make sure the community is first in representation and the collective need."

Quirk said the community of Catonsville has long been in need of a park and that the new space will increase property values as well as promote public health.

"It has been proven time and time again that homes that are around good recreation space have a premium to their home values," Quirk said in a phone interview Thursday.

"All those homes generally sell for much higher values than homes who don't have those values," he added.

A park would also provide children and families with a place to exercise and spend time outside.

"You have too many kids spending too much time in front of, in particular, video games, and not getting the exercise they need...and so I think by providing more recreational space that's going to help getting our kids out and especially active," Quirk said.

"This is one of those rare times when everyone agrees," Kamenetz said in the Feb. 14 press release. "Councilman (Tom) Quirk, (state) Sen. (Edward) Kasemeyer and (state) Sen. (Delores) Kelley along with Dels. (Adrienne) Jones, (Shirley) Nathan-Pulliam, (Emmett) Burns, (Steven) DeBoy and (James) Malone have all been strong advocates for a regional park at Spring Grove, and it was the number one recommendation of the community task force in 2006."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Kevin KamenetzFitnessUniversity of Maryland Baltimore CountyTom Quirk
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