Equestrian center planned on farmland county bought Officials say reopening of Andover unaffected


Anne Arundel County is opening its second equestrian center on 12 acres of a family farm it has bought near Cape St. Claire as part of its effort to preserve farmland.

County officials say the new center will be used for boarding, lessons and therapeutic riding programs, and that it will not affect the reopening of the Andover Equestrian Center in Linthicum.

In January, Linthicum residents packed a meeting in protest after the county announced that it would close Andover temporarily for repairs, which led to fears that the center would close permanently.

No date has been set for the reopening, but county officials say they will do about $400,000 worth of work at the center, including building a new training ring, additional parking, new stables and wider fences and gates.

"This has absolutely nothing to do with Andover except it's another equestrian center," said Tom Angelis, county director of recreation and parks. "It was attractive to us because the land is contiguous to Broadneck Park and it ensures that no development of private homes will occur in that area."

Yesterday, county officials said the $500,000 purchase of Smith farm property complements the Recreation and Parks Department and helps their land-preservation efforts.

"With this 12-acre addition, we will have preserved over 259 acres of land with direct purchases in four years," County Executive John G. Gary said yesterday at a signing ceremony at the farm. "With easements, agricultural preservation, open-space acquisitions and subdivision restrictions, we have preserved over 5,400 acres in four years."

Anne Arundel and Montgomery are the only area jurisdictions with more than one government-owned center for the state's growing equestrian community. Prince George's and Harford counties have one site each. A proposal to build one in Howard County has failed several times.

The new center in Arundel is to be named in honor of Anthony George Smith Sr., whose father, Polish immigrant William Vincent Smith, purchased 131 acres on the Broadneck Peninsula in 1909.

The younger Smith, known as Andy, was born on the property in 1923 and built a house on 31 acres he inherited from his father. Over the years, the Broadneck community grew as Cape St. Claire, College Parkway and U.S. 50 were developed, but the Smith family held on to much of its land.

Considered prime real estate, the farm on Broadneck Road "would be a lovely location for homes. It would also be a great location for businesses. But instead, Betsy wants to make sure it remains open space," Gary said, praising Andy Smith's widow for her interest in preservation.

In 1974, the Smith family began raising American quarter horses and later offered boarding, lessons and a show facility to the community. Other parts of the farm were sold over the years, but members of the Smith family still own about 70 acres.

"I am just thrilled," said Betsy Smith, who added that she can no longer run her farm by herself. "It's very exciting because I really didn't want to sell the property to a developer who had been very interested in buying it. It will extend the Broadneck Park, and the family name will still be attached to the property.

"It will continue to be a farm, and it will remain a horse facility. That's good for the community and it's good for us."

Pub Date: 5/20/98

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