County reconsiders site rejected for community center, library

The Baltimore Sun

A county library and community center are planned for Arbutus at a site rejected by Baltimore County officials several years ago because of residents' opposition.

The county-owned parcel at Sulphur Spring and Selford roads near the Huntsmoor neighborhood is being considered again because county officials couldn't find another suitable site for the facilities, Councilman Stephen G. "Sam" Moxley, said yesterday.

But because some residents remain opposed to the location, Baltimore County is going through its own development process, which includes a community input meeting and a hearing, where residents will be allowed to discuss concerns.

Two buildings - a nearly 31,000-square-foot combined library and senior center, and a 15,000-square-foot community recreation center - and 270 parking spaces are planned for the 13.6-acre wooded parcel, according to plans presented yesterday at a concept review conference.

The project is expected to cost about $13 million, said Ellen Kobler, a county spokeswoman.

Several community leaders attended yesterday's meeting, the first step in the development process, and told officials that they had concerns about wetlands, underground springs, storm water management, traffic, access to the facilities and loss of open space.

"There are a lot of concerns," said Steve Whisler, president of the Coalition for the Preservation of Southwest Baltimore County. "There's going to be a lot of opposition to this."

Whisler warned county officials to expect a large crowd at the community input meeting, which had not been scheduled as of yesterday.

Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat who represents the area, said county officials sought alternative locations for the library and community and senior centers. But, he said, "there is no other property where we could do this, within our budget and without taking it out of the community."

"The only other thing I can think of is to sell the property to a developer, and with the proceeds from the sale, buy another piece of property," he said.

Several residents who attended yesterday's conference said they were disappointed to see the project resurface at the same place after county officials told them they had abandoned those plans.

"Arbutus needs a new library," said Dean Kasian, who lives in the Huntsmoor neighborhood. "We're all for that. Our gripe is with the location."

Laura Barnhardt

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