Open fields, woods and a horse farm - that's what most of the Turf Valley area of Howard County used to be. Now, it includes a residential area with several hundred homes and a resort.
"It is close to everything," resident Bobbi Schubert says of the community nestled in an area that takes its name from the site that the Turf Valley Resort sits on, between Route 40 and I-70.
The neighborhoods, developed by the owners of the resort, their streets and cul-de-sacs bearing golf-type names, are the scenes of block parties, cookouts, volleyball games and more.
Starting in the late 1970s, Nicholas Mangione bought a country club, featuring golf, along with the adjacent land, not including several private homes that lined Turf Valley Road. Since then, the Mangiones have created a hotel, spa and conference center with 40,000 square of space for events, and developed two housing communities.
Other single-family homes, including those in Turf Valley Overlook, have sprouted to the east, their yards dotted with kids' play equipment.
At Halloween, a costume parade led by the Marriotts Ridge High School marching unit winds through part of the neighborhood, said Michelle Hertel: "It's fabulous."
Housing stock //The area consists almost exclusively of single-family homes, except for the Legends, a semi-detached and townhouse neighborhood. Most houses were built starting in the mid-1980s; construction has continued and more change is coming: Groundbreakings are in the works for this year on a nursing home and assisted living center as well as 192 mid-rise condos on the Turf Valley property. Other plans include adding 150,000 square feet of office and commercial space, plus about 400 houses, townhouses and condos.
Kids and schools //Public schools are Manor Woods Elementary, Mount View Middle and Marriotts Ridge High schools, all highly rated schools. Several private schools are nearby.
Youth sports are big for every season. Programs include the Howard County Youth Program for baseball and other sports, Western Howard County Soccer and county-run programs.
Crime //Residents say they feel safe; police say there are occasional nuisance crimes. "We don't see significant crime issues in the Turf Valley area," said department spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn.
Transportation //The Turf Valley area is convenient to U.S. 40 and Routes 144 and 99, and I-70, all east-west roads. For north-south travel, Routes 32 and 29 are the major ones on either side of the area. Delays are generally limited to rush hours. Tentative plans call for widening Marriottsville Road in that vicinity, improving its intersections and rebuilding its bridge over I-70.
Shopping //Right outside of the residential area and within a short drive are stores galore. U.S. 40 is lined with individual stores and strip centers that have everything from flowers to hardware. Historic Ellicott City, with its quaint shops, is a few minutes drive, as is the Mall in Columbia.
Dining in //Residents can choose among Safeway, Mars and Giant near U.S. 40 and Route 99.
Dining out //The area is awash in restaurants, chains and locally owned, featuring foods from around the globe. Popular eateries include Sakura for Japanese food, Crab Shanty for seafood, Bare Bones for ribs and Bagel Bin for bagel sandwiches. Turf Valley Resort has two restaurants: the more upscale Alexandra's and the casual Terrace on the Green.
Nightlife //Local pubs, restaurants and clubs feature music some nights, among them, bands at the Stone Cellar and Ellicott City's Main Street establishments. A short drive puts residents at the Inner Harbor. For movies, it's often the Mall in Columbia.
Recreation //Turf Valley's golf courses are for members and their guests, hotel guests and events such as fundraisers. Various membership levels for golf and swimming are available at the resort. Greenways and parks abound in the area. Some streets back up to David W. Force Park, largely a natural area with paths. Kiwanis Wallas Park, a longtime youth sports home, is on the south side of Route 40. The Patapsco Valley State Park hugs the river, and has ball fields, campsites, equestrian trails, playgrounds and more.