City to purchase 6.5 acres for Westminster's sixth public park


A grassy field that once housed a florist's greenhouses will become Westminster's sixth public park.

The City Council accepted an option last week to buy about 6.5 acres on Winters Street near Monroe Street from Eileen D. W. Gist. The asking price is $400,000; $375,000 will come from the state's Program Open Space and $25,000 from city government.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," said Karen Clift, a Pennsylvania Avenue resident and president of Neighbors United, the community association that represents Pennsylvania Avenue, Union Street and West Main Street residents.

Mrs. Clift said she looks forward to her three children having a chance to use the park.

She and other neighbors also will have the opportunity to help plan the park. City Planning Director Thomas B. Beyard, who negotiated the purchase, said he had talked with county government officials about putting ball fields there, but development of the property will be a collective effort.

"When you involve the people who live there, it seems to work NTC out better," Mr. Beyard said. "We'll use the Parks Board as a vehicle to do that."

Ball fields would help West Middle School maintain its athletic program while officials there cope with overcrowding.

"Our athletic fields are being taken over by portable classrooms," said Principal Harry M. Lambert.

The school has approximately 400 students in 12 portable classrooms, one-third of the student population of 1,250. The portable units are on fields behind the building.

A planned media center would encroach further on the fields, Mr. Lambert said. "It is good forward thinking by whoever's involved in this to say, 'Hey, the school might be able to use these fields.' "

The Winters Street property will give Westminster six parks and five tot lots. Four parks are open and Fenby Farm Park is under development. All five tot lots are open.

The new park will be named the Dutterer Family Park.

Portions of the property have been owned by the Dutterer family since 1919, Mrs. Gist said. She is the daughter of Stewart N. Dutterer, who founded the Pennsylvania Avenue flower shop that bears his name.

Mrs. Gist said the family had greenhouses on the Winters Street land until 1971, when the owners abandoned them rather than face the cost of compliance with new government regulations.

The owners rented the greenhouses to other growers for several years, but eventually demolished them, Mrs. Gist said.

The property has not been used for about 20 years.

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