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Councilman not yet sold on Y proposal

YMCA: Sale of land would be 'healthy' deal for all

By Lauren Fulbright, lfulbright@patuxent.com

July 13, 2011

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Following his July 8 meeting with representatives from the Y of Central Maryland, 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk said he is undecided about supporting a proposal to build a 60,000-square-foot medical building on the Y's South Rolling Road campus.

Quirk said he hasn't made up his mind after hearing a proposal for potential road improvements that would accompany plans to build the medical facility on 6 acres of the Y's 20-acre property at 850 S. Rolling Road.

The first-year councilman said he is in the process of reviewing traffic data the Y compiled through consultants and the State Highway Administration.

"I think I owe it to the Y and the community to be as analytical as possible on this," he said."So I'm currently studying and reading all the analysis to try to make the best decision I can for the community."

Y officials say selling the land to Duke Realty, a developer affiliated with St. Agnes Hospital, would help fund the expansion project needed to upgrade its 50-year-old facility from 15,000 to 35,000 square feet. It is estimated that the project will cost from $8 million to $9 million.

The proposed medical building would house primary care physicians, a podiatry group, a cardiology group, physical therapy, a gynecologist, plastic surgery, a gastroenterology group, orthopedics, radiology, blood drawing, a chiropractor and a pharmacy.

The project would allow for the expansion of the Y's crowded workout room and upgrading of its plumbing and pool-filtration systems. In addition, the Y would gain locker rooms for its summer camp, viewing windows in the pool area, multipurpose rooms, a child-watch room, a spinning room and a family locker room

Throughout a series of community meetings, residents have offered mixed reactions to the proposal.

Unless Quirk introduces a resolution before the County Council for the Planned Unit Development to build the medical center, the project cannot come to fruition.

Quirk had previously cited traffic and safety concerns in saying that he was not prepared to support the project.

He said July 10 that he was "intrigued" by some of the Y's traffic analysis.

Though both Quirk and Y officials said a previously considered roundabout in the area would not be feasible from an engineering standpoint, the Y offered other improvements, such as creating an additional lane on Rolling Road and striping turning lanes.

"I still have real concerns about traffic safety, because I have concerns about patients turning left there and accidents," Quirk said. "And I still have concerns about the compatibility (of the medical office building), since there are residential homes close by."

He said accidents probably wouldn't happen during peak hours, when traffic along the popular route moves extremely slowly.

But Quirk said he would worry about elderly patients trying to make a left turn into the proposed medical facility during nonpeak hours, when traffic on the route near the Community College of Baltimore County's Catonsville campus and the access ramps to north- and southbound Interstate-95 travels at faster speeds.

"In addition to being able to enlarge the Y and add a medical office building, we're going to do something to the road condition there that's going to make people's lives a lot better moving through Rolling Road at that point," said John Hoey, president and CEO of the Y of Central Maryland.

Quirk said he was intrigued by plans to move the Y's entrance further south – which would improve the sight distance for turning vehicles.

"I'm very supportive of making sure we get an expanded Y, no matter what happens," Quirk said. "And I love the concept of having the medical office. … I love having all those doctors in one place."

"So both of the concepts I'm very supportive of," he said. "I just want to make sure it's at the right location."