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Mayor studies school land use City wants to build athletic fields; PTA seeks parking lot


The city of Annapolis wants to do a good thing: renovate land around Germantown Elementary into athletic fields for the community. Germantown parents want to do a good thing, too: raise money for their school by using the same land as a parking lot for special events.

Mayor Dean L. Johnson is trying to figure out how to do both on the 34 acres to keep the school's PTA, the Citizens Advisory Committee, the community and visitors to the city happy.

"It's trying to get competing interests squeezed onto one small site," Johnson said. "We've asked the engineers to look at it and see if it can be done. The problem is, it raises costs."

City officials are expecting engineering plans next week that will show how the school land can be transformed from four makeshift fields into seven properly graded, high-quality playing fields.

Residents have tried for 15 years to get the improvements on the land, Johnson said. The PTA is in favor of giving up what amounts to half the space it has used profitably for nearly 20 years as a parking lot.

At issue is a central field that stretches east-west on the latest engineering drawings, taking a bigger bite of the parking territory than some parents would like.

"The children of the school will not be participating on those fields," said Randy Landis, a parent volunteer who coordinates the overflow parking operation. "The only benefit that it has for them is income. We have a fiduciary responsibility to future children that we preserve as many spaces as we can."

The PTA is hoping that next week's plans will show that disputed field moved to a north-south orientation, which would allow space for about 150 more cars. That could translate into about $4,000 a year for the PTA.

The group has raised about $7,500 for the school this year by offering parking for Naval Academy and other tourist, arts and sporting events in the city that draw big crowds.

Money from the lot has helped buy a computer laboratory and textbooks.

"The only thing the school had going for it in terms of trying to level the playing field with other schools was this resource of the field," said Tom May, former chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee. "It was a way to raise money for the school and give the school things it doesn't have from the county budget."

Johnson said upgrading the fields at Germantown was discussed 15 years ago, when he was PTA vice president. Conflicting interests held up the project, and the money to renovate dried up.

The idea was revived two years ago when Del. Michael E. Busch, a 30th District Democrat, proposed using state Program Open Space money for renovations. Since then, the cost of the project has swelled from $363,000 to $500,000, Johnson said. The state is granting $375,00, and the city will have to come up with the rest.

Changing the orientation of the disputed field is no small task and could be a costly project involving moving dirt, removing trees and digging up sidewalks, Johnson and project manager Marcia Patrick said.

"It would be a complete redesign at this point," Patrick said. "We may already be too late to start this spring."

"We really have no spare funds," Johnson said. "I'd like to get as many ball fields out there as possible."

Pub Date: 12/30/98

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