Dreams of opening a world-class tennis center in Elkridge have died, but the dream of a much-needed community park is alive and well.
On Saturday, June 22, county officials plan to break ground for a new park on 100 acres near the intersection of Interstate 95 and Route 100.
Tentatively named Troy Park at Elkridge, the park when completed will include about a half-dozen lighted, synthetic ball fields, as well as a community center, playground, walking trail and restrooms.
The first phase, which will include two all-purpose fields and a parking area, is expected to open by the end of next year.
"The Elkridge area has a definite need for ball fields and recreational amenities," said John Marshall, bureau chief of parks and program services for the county Department of Recreation and Parks. "It's been one of our priorities."
The park is expected to be completed by the 2017 fiscal year and cost about $41.9 million.
The Elkridge site was identified several years ago as the location for a large tennis center that would include 30 courts and an 8,000-seat stadium. But private funding for the center never materialized and last year, after a feasibility study concluded that the center would not be a smart investment, county leaders abandoned the idea.
Development of the rest of the park had been awaiting the fate of the tennis center, but now the plans are moving forward.
But despite the long wait and the acknowledged need, the park is being greeted with mixed emotions in Elkridge.
"A park is nice, but it's not our highest priority," said Doug Kornreich, president of the Greater Elkridge Community Association. "And even the priorities in the park are backwards."
He explained that Elkridge is more in need of a new high school and that the community's greatest park-related need is a community center — an amenity not scheduled to be built for at least three years.
"More fields are just not as much a priority as a place for people to assemble," Kornreich said. The park, he added, "is better than being neglected, but it's not our biggest need."
Former GECA President Howard Johnson, who for years testified at county meetings and hearings in favor of the park, said he also would like to see the community center built earlier.
He also said he was disappointed that the tennis center fell through, as it would have been a revenue-generating amenity for the park.
Still, Johnson said the park as planned "will be an improvement over what we have now. It's a big deal."
Elkridge's only other county park, Rockburn Regional, has no restrooms and its few fields are "always crowded," Johnson said.
"There's definitely a need for more fields. … (Troy park) will have a lot of things we don't have at Rockburn."
Marshall said county officials are aware that Elkridge residents would like the community center to be built as soon as possible, but noted, "there are many factors that go into phasing a project, not the least of which is funding."
The Troy site also includes a historic building, the Troy Mansion. But Marshall said it is uncertain whether and how the structure, which needs repairs, will be integrated into the park.
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