Pos­si­ble course change at Mary­land

School con­sid­ers whether to re­pur­pose four holes to ease cam­pus space crunch

Baltimore Sun - - GOLF - By Don Markus [email protected]­sun.com twit­ter.com/sport­sprof56

Five years af­ter plans were scrapped to build an aca­demic vil­lage and a mixed-use com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment on the site of the Univer­sity of Mary­land golf course, school of­fi­cials are now con­sid­er­ing re­pur­pos­ing four of its holes to help quell the cam­pus’ grow­ing space crunch.

The ini­tial pro­posal in­cludes con­struct­ing a track and field com­plex on the 18th hole, a 600-space sur­face park­ing lot on the ninth hole and five foot­ball-length in­tra­mu­ral fields on holes 1 and 10.

“It’s very much a work in progress,” Carlo Colella, the univer­sity’s vice pres­i­dent for ad­min­is­tra­tion and fi­nance, said Fri­day.

The de­tails of the pro­posal were dis­cussed at a meet­ing ear­lier this week in­side the course’s club­house. Colella said there will be fur­ther dis­cus­sions and po­ten­tial fine-tun­ing be­fore the the pro­posal is pre­sented to the univer­sity’s fa­cil­i­ties coun­cil some­time this fall.

If ac­cepted, it would go to univer­sity pres­i­dent Wal­lace D. Loh for a final de­ci­sion.

But there is a long way to go be­fore that hap­pens, Colella warned. Loh was un­avail­able for com­ment.

“This is not even a con­cept de­sign. It’s re­ally to test out what can fit in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions,” Colella said.

Af­ter look­ing at more than a dozen sites, the ma­jor­ity of which were on the main part of cam­pus, Colella was part of a group of ad­min­is­tra­tors who were asked to look at other lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the golf course.

“When we were look­ing at meet­ing the pro­gra­matic needs of track and field and rec fields, most of of sites were very lim­ited in what they can do,” Colella said. ”When we ex­plored the golf course … it of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to be able to ad­dress more of the rec field short­age that we al­ready have as well as park­ing losses that we have ex­pe­ri­enced in re­cent years for im­por­tant new aca­demic projects and pub­lic transportation projects.”

Op­po­nents to the pro­posal ques­tion the need to build on on one of the few re­main­ing ex­panses of green space on the cam­pus.

“It’s un­rea­son­able,” said Nor­man Starkey, the chair­man of the Mary­land Golf Course Coali­tion and a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Friends of the Golf Course booster group. “Why do they need to put a track, five fields The Mary­land golf course hosted the 2017 state high school cham­pi­onships. School of­fi­cials are weigh­ing a pro­posal to con­struct a track and field com­plex on the 18th hole, a 600-space sur­face park­ing lot on the ninth hole and five foot­ball-length in­tra­mu­ral fields on holes 1 and10. and park­ing at the same lo­ca­tion?”

With the course be­ing cer­ti­fied as one of 19 in Mary­land that meet Audubon In­ter­na­tional’s cri­te­ria for a co­op­er­a­tive sanc­tu­ary for golf, Starkey said: “It’s a golf course is­sue, but it’s also a heavy, heavy en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sue. It’s a com­mu­nity is­sue. ... Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Starkey said fi­nan­cial sup­port for a re­con­fig­ured 18-hole course or even­tu­ally a nine-hole course would dwin­dle dra­mat­i­cally. Ac­cord­ing to Starkey, roughly $1.5 mil­lion has been raised by Friends of the Golf Course since the booster group was es­tab­lished in 2005. The money is used for the up­keep and im­prove­ments of a course that has been ranked among the top 30 col­lege venues in the coun­try.

“That’s fairly im­pres­sive for a univer­sity course,” Starkey said of the do­na­tions.

The course un­der­went a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion in 2008 and 2009, and is used for more than 35,000 rounds a year. The Mary­land state high school cham­pi­onships are played there, and the course also hosted to a Na­tion­wide Tour event in 2010 and 2011. The school’s golf teams don’t play tour­na­ments at the course.

Starkey called this cur­rent battle to keep the golf course un­scathed “Round 2.” But win­ning this round might prove to be more prob­lem­atic than com­ing out vic­to­ri­ous in “Round 1” given that the group might not have enough time or gain enough sup­port to do so.

In 2013, Owings Mills-based mixed-use de­vel­oper Green­berg Gib­bons pro­posed plans to build an ac­cess road from In­ter­state 95/495 into the west side of cam­pus onto the golf course, which would have also been used for an aca­demic vil­lage as well as big-box stores and con­do­mini­ums.

“It would have de­stroyed the prop­erty,” said Starkey, 69, who has played the course since mov­ing from In­di­ana to an apart­ment on nearby Adel­phi Road when he was a child.

Af­ter learn­ing of the 2013 pro­posal, Starkey formed a group to help fight those plans that were strongly sup­ported by Loh. With the in­volve­ment of Mary­land Rep. Steny Hoyer and other lo­cal politi­cians, the pro­posal was even­tu­ally with­drawn.

“We worked ba­si­cally for four months pretty hard,” Starkey re­called Thurs­day. “We have a short timer to fight this one.”

One of the lo­cal politi­cians who ar­gued ve­he­mently against the pro­posal five years ago will be more apt to seek a com­pro­mise this time. Mary­land State Sen­a­tor Paul Pin­sky, whose District 22 is just south of Col­lege Park, said this pro­posal is a lot more palat­able since it does not in­volve con­struct­ing a con­nec­tor to the in­ter­state or us­ing green space for a com­mer­cial prop­erty.

As the chair­man for the Se­nate Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and En­vi­ron­ment com­mit­tee, Pin­sky is still con­cerned about tak­ing away green space, but when briefed re­cently on the cur­rent pro­posal, he had a far dif­fer­ent re­ac­tion.

“It didn’t of­fend me,” he said. “I don’t put it on the ex­act par as what tran­spired five years ago.”

Pin­sky is still con­flicted be­cause part of the cur­rent is­sue has to do with the com­ple­tion of the Mary­land Trans­porta- tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Pur­ple Line on the Wash­ing­ton Metro, which would take away some of the land used for field events such as the shot put as well some park­ing spa­ces.

“I was one of the first peo­ple in the county and the state to ad­vo­cate for the Pur­ple Line,” Pin­sky said. “It’s fi­nally hap­pened. … If the Pur­ple Line cuts into some of the park­ing spa­ces or cuts into part of the track, I helped cre­ate part of that [plan]. I feel some­what re­spon­si­ble for that.”

Pin­sky said he has pro­posed build­ing one fewer in­tra­mu­ral field or us­ing two holes rather than four, while short­en­ing the oth­ers to keep it as an 18-hole course.

Colella said he is open to dis­cussing how to main­tain the in­tegrity of the course, but added: “The track and field fa­cil­ity it­self and bleach­ers and some as­so­ci­ated park­ing, that’s a sub­stan­tial amount of acreage that goes with that. Even a few rec fields re­quires a sig­nif­i­cant amount of acreage. … I’m not sure we can ad­dress the pro­gra­matic goals with just two holes. We’re very early in this process and we have to see what can fit be­fore ad­vanc­ing fur­ther.”

Said Pin­sky: “I would like to see it be a win-win sit­u­a­tion. I would like to pre­serve as much [of the course] as pos­si­ble, but to blow off the univer­sity’s other needs, I think that’s un­fair, too. … If I was go­ing to a pub­lic meet­ing, the first ques­tion I would ask is, ‘OK, you’re tak­ing four [holes] now, what’s go­ing to give me con­fi­dence that you’re not go­ing to take an­other four in a few years?’ I think they are fair ques­tions.”

JEN RYNDA/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

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