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Recreation center plan sounds great, 'but not here'


More than 30 North County residents last night favored a recreation center in their area but not the proposed location -- a 13-acre parcel of land on the north side of Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Residents who attended the meeting at the Linthicum Library said they were primarily concerned about having the proposed center 30 feet from their doorsteps.

If the center is built on the proposed site on land donated by the state, it would be bounded roughly by White, Main and Benson avenues and Andover Road, where the entrance would be located.

Residents also expressed concerns about potential traffic problems and losing trees in the wooded area near their homes. The trees serve as a buffer against airplane noise and as a place to watch wildlife, residents said.

"We just basically want the woods to stay there and our houses to stay the way they are," said Michael Tauber, who once played in the woods as a child, and now shares the experience with his three children, ages 3 to 13.

"We think it's a great idea you got there," Mr. Tauber told Ferndale resident Lewis F. Holmes, who is trying to bring a center to the area. "But not in our back yard."

The 86,000-square-foot recreation center would include an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool, four basketball courts, two handball courts and an indoor track, said Barb Rush, a Ferndale resident who is working with Mr. Holmes.

Rough estimates from builders put the cost of the center at about $6 million, Ms. Rush has said. But supporters really don't know, at this stage, where the money would come from -- county funds, state funds, private donations or a mixture of all three sources.

Mr. Holmes was tearful and quarrelsome as he told residents of his dream.

"This recreation center has been a dream of mine for years," he said.

But at one point he yelled at a woman: "You're a jerk. I'm outspoken. You're a jerk."

Mr. Holmes' outburst caused some residents to leave in disgust before the meeting, which lasted more than 90 minutes, broke up.

But Mr. Holmes, who conceded he can be a hothead, said: "I'm ashamed of what I said to her. But I was mad at the time."

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