Residents from Pasadena, Annapolis and South County urged the County Council last night to spend more money on recreation next year than County Executive John G. Gary has proposed.
Requests for additional parks and recreation money appeared to dominate council hearings on Mr. Gary's proposed $733.2 million budget for day-to-day services, such as police and fire protection, and his $89.7 million construction plan for schools, parks and government buildings.
Marty Jachowski, president of the Pinehurst on the Bay-Bodkin Improvement Association, wants the county to purchase 19 wooded acres adjacent to her community and add it to Downs Park. She said she wants to save the site, which contains wild turkeys and a 200-year-old canal, from development.
Stanford Womack and Ed Stubbs would like to see more baseball, softball and recreational facilities for youngsters living in greater Annapolis. At the very least, Mr. Stubbs said, money should be set aside to study the shortage of organized play areas.
The most dramatic appeal came from Bill Autrey of Riva. County residents living below the South River still are waiting for a park -- any park, he said. Their youth baseball leagues are forced to search for private fields that at least have makeshift backstops, he said.
"Before another dime is spent on parks in North County, please bring South County up to the 20th century," Mr. Autrey said.
At a sparsely attended hearing Monday in Glen Burnie, supporters of a West County hiker-biker trail urged the council to move forward with the project more quickly than Mr. Gary has recommended.
Last night's meeting in Annapolis drew about 40 people, but Tuesday's session in Glen Burnie on proposed school spending only was attended by about 200 people. In addition to recreation programs, many supported Mr. Gary's plan to spend $4 million over the next two years to build a larger library in the Russett subdivision to replace a smaller one in Maryland City.
Ed Dosek of Crofton appealed to the council to include money to begin planning a new library in his community.
Joseph V. Cifala, president of the South County Police Community Relations Council, protested the rundown condition of the Southern District police station. He complained that the parking lot is not lighted, the janitor has to enter the cellblock to fill a mop bucket, and female officers must change into their uniforms in a public bathroom.
"It's a wonder the officers there have any morale at all," he said.
Some speakers sought cuts in Mr. Gary's proposed budget for the fiscal beginning July 1.
Judy Savage of Annapolis called the proposed salary increases for several of the executive's department heads and aides "totally insane." She said it is "highway robbery" for Mr. Gary to propose the increases at the same time he has suggested raising the property tax rate by 3 cents.
Several residents of the Brittingham subdivision in Severna Park asked the council to delete proposed improvements to West Earleigh Heights Road, saying they fear it would increase traffic through their neighborhood needlessly. Half a mile away, the county also is planning to extend East-West Boulevard from Veterans Highway to Ritchie Highway.
A final hearing is scheduled at 7:30 tonight on Mr. Gary's plans to spend $417.1 million -- 57 percent of his overall budget -- on the county's 116 public schools. That is a 1.9 percent increase, about half the rate of inflation.