The first two athletic fields at Elkridge's Troy Park were expected to open over the weekend, marking the official opening of the $45 million, 101-acre park that officials say will be a premier regional sports facility.
"It will be the largest sports venue we have in the county, and it's a great location for regional events," said John Byrd, the county's director of Recreation and Parks. "This will be marketed as a regional sports facility, primarily for youth sports."
Located on Mansion Lane near the Troy Hill Commerce Center off U.S. 1 in Elkridge, the park will ultimately have four artificial turf athletic fields, three synthetic turf baseball fields, a community center, two playgrounds, pavilions, trails and an indoor sports complex or fieldhouse, which will house an indoor track and basketball courts.
The park is being built in five phases. The first phase. which opened over the weekend, cost $8 million and includes the two multipurpose fields, parking, street design and all the grading for the land.
A second $7 million phase will include a playground, trails, pavilions, restrooms, additional parking and two more multipurpose fields, including a stadium field that will seat 1,500. Construction is expected to begin this fall and continue through summer 2015.
The third phase is expected to cost $3 million and will include a maintenance building; construction will begin in late spring and continue through summer 2016.
Phase four will be the largest, estimated at $20 million, and will include the community center and indoor sports complex or fieldhouse. Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2015 and be completed in summer or fall 2017.
A final phase is estimated at $4 million and will include the three baseball fields and the second playground. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2017 and be completed in fall 2018.
The county is also restoring the historic three-story Troy Hill Mansion located on the property as part of the overall park project. The brick mansion, built around 1820, could serve as a small meeting house or become a restaurant, Byrd said.
"We continue to work hard to meet the huge demand for recreation space in Howard County," County Executive Ken Ulman said in a statement. "The Elkridge community in particular deserves these top-flight fields and playing space.
"Troy Park becomes another gem in Howard County's expanding park system," Ulman said, noting that the county has opened two regional parks in recent years. "A tremendous thanks goes to our state delegation, who have been great partners in helping bring this project to reality."
Byrd said the site's location, with access to Route 100 and U.S. 1 and natural buffers, will support the volume of traffic necessary for a sports center.
"We don't have any houses around, so it can be a fairly intensely active area," he said.
There is one residential property adjacent to the park that the county has not been able to acquire, but 80 of the park's acres, which Byrd said were either residential property or part of the business park, were acquired using grants from the Department of Natural Resources Program Open Space, according to information from the county.
Byrd said the park has been decades in the making: "We've had a vision for a park here for 20 years," he said.
The park will be the county's eighth regional park and the second in Elkridge, joining Rockburn Branch Park, which is Howard's oldest regional park.