Proposed Rock Glenn park in Aberdeen

Harford County and the City of Aberdeen plan to acquire land in the Rock Glenn area for a new park and ballfields. The site, across from Medline Industries, will cost $2.4 million, according to the county's parks and rec director. (TED HENDRICKS | AEGIS STAFF / The Aegis / August 31, 2013)

The city of Aberdeen plans to spend $685,000 to buy three homes on Franklin Street, between the senior center and the library, as well as contribute toward buying a vacant property off Rock Glenn Boulevard to be used as playing fields.

City Manager Doug Miller said the three properties on Franklin – numbers 19, 15 and 11 – were up for sale and the city would pay $485,000 to buy them.

At their meeting Monday, city council members approved budget amendments for the two separate purchases.

The city hopes to be reimbursed by the state's Department of Housing and Community Development for buying the three properties, and the council approved a separate resolution Monday to send a request for financial assistance as part of a Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund project.

"We think if we are going to implement this transit-oriented development plan, those properties are key in that development," Miller said.

Miller said the city was approached about a month ago by Marquise Investments LLC., which owns all the properties and was interested in selling them.

After the meeting, Miller said buying the properties makes sense because they are next to the senior center and mentioned the possibility of expanding the center.

He would not say exactly what would be done with those properties, however, and said any demolition could not be considered until after the purchase is made.

The properties were appraised at $485,000, planning and community development director Phyllis Grover said Wednesday.

Miller said the funds would be coming from the unfunded fund balance initially but the city is hoping to get the money back through the state grant.

"We hope that but it is not a bird in the hand," he told the council, which unanimously approved the resolution and the budget amendments.

Finance director Opiribo Jack also said it looks like the city will have a "significant [budget] surplus" this year.

One of the properties, 19 Franklin St., is occupied by SPIN Inc., which Miller said is for people dealing with drug addiction.

The would aid in significant redevelopment of the area around the MARC/Amtrak train station, including in downtown Aberdeen, and the city asked for a similar demolition and Smart Growth impact grant in 2012 for property on the city's east side.

Rock Glen Park, meanwhile, is going to be used for soccer fields and a clubhouse, Miller said after the meeting.

The park site on Rock Glenn is part of a $2.4 million purchase Harford County plans to make, county parks and recreation director Arden McClune said.

Aberdeen would contribute $200,000 toward the purchase of the property across from Medline Industries in the 2000 block of Rock Glenn and is owned by BBB LLC, McClune said.

McClune said her department was waiting for Aberdeen to put in money before taking the project before the Board of Estimates.

Miller said the city was approached regarding the park site about three months ago.

"We are short on fields here in Aberdeen, so this was a welcome opportunity for us," he said Wednesday.