TALK ABOUT NOVEL public-private partnerships: A group of local investors says it is willing to plunk down $7 million to build a complex containing a National Hockey League-size rink as well as an Olympic-size rink on 17 acres at the Lake Shore Athletic Complex, which is owned by Anne Arundel County. All it seems " to want from the government is the land.
This intriguing proposal merits serious consideration. The investors' willingness to finance the construction springs from the fact that many existing sports and recreational facilities are doing booming business in the suburbs.
Thousands of skaters already trek each week to the Piney Orchard Ice Forum in Odenton and Benfield Pines Ice Rink in Millersville. Meanwhile, the Arundel Olympic Swim Center outside Annapolis draws about 1,000 swimmers a day.
Elsewhere around the region, a large rink opened last year to big crowds in Harford County; public soccer and lacrosse facilities are being developed in Baltimore County; a public shooting range opened in Carroll County, and Howard County's Columbia plans yet another health club. Because of the shortage of certain kinds of recreational facilities in Anne Arundel, however, some county youngsters now get bused to Baltimore, to play at the Meyer Soccer Pavilion in Brooklyn and the Du Burns Soccer Facility in Canton.
While a new twin rink off Woods Road that could accommodate hockey and figure skaters sounds nice, critical questions must be asked: How would this proposal alter County Executive John B. Gary's dream to revive the Glen Burnie Superblock with an ice-skating rink and amphitheater? What would government's responsibility be should the Pasadena rink fail?
On the other hand, there is a great need for recreation outlets, to involve kids in positive activities. Residents' concerns about traffic must also be addressed.
Would a new rink produce some future Kristi Yamaguchi, Brian Boitano or Wayne Gretzky? Hope springs eternal.
At a minimum, a quality skating venue would provide families, and others, with another outlet for good, clean, physical fitness. The proposed complex in North County deserves strong consideration.
Pub Date: 12/18/96