Development projects at 16 Montgomery County parks will be postponed or eliminated under the proposed capital budget of the Montgomery County Planning Board.
The planning board decided to trim $3.4 million from the $14.5 million budget the board had planned to submit to the County Council for purchase and development of parkland for the coming fiscal year. As a result of the cut, 30 new employes the board had planned to hire will not be needed to staff and maintain the new parks. The staffing cut will save about $400,000 in next years's park operating budget.
The park cutbacks are part of a countywide budget slashing now going on in anticipation of the Nov. 7 election when voters may approve a charter amendment, similar to California's Proposition 13, rolling back the property tax. The amendment would slash some $50 million to $90 million from county revenues.
Even if voters reject the proposal, the park deferrals and deletions are not expected to be restored, planning board officials said last week, because of county efforts to slow government spending.
In addition to postponing or eliminating development projects, which include facilities such as playing fields, recreation centers and even park benches, the planning board has said it may have to being charging user fees at the parks and reducing the park hours. The board also is considering leaving 25 of 33 new maintenace positions unfilled, even though the County Council already has funded the positions to operate new parks now under construction.
The 16 neighborhood parks are not the only ones affected by the cutbacks. The planning board staff did not request funds for 11 other small parks, which were to be developed during the 1980 fiscal year under a six-year, capital construction program.
The 22,000 acres of county parkland currently have a $12 million annual budge and are operated by 460 employes of the bicounty Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Like other county agencies, the parks department was asked by the County Council to limit its budge increases to 3 percent. However, parks director Stan Ernst said last week this may prove to be impossible because inflation and regular salary increases will force the budget up by about 10 percent - even with the cut of $3.4 million and the additional $400,000 savings on the staff payroll.
The largest project affected by the cutbacks is the 90-acre Martin Luther King jr. Recreation Park, which is in the eastern part of the county near Jackson Road and New Hampshire Avenue and has been planned as a major recreation center. The project, which inclined construction of playing fields, tennis courts, a recreation center and swimming pool, was to have been started next year but will be postponed until 1982. The work had been estimated to cost more than $1 million.
Of the $3.4 million in cutbacks, about $2 million worth of projects is being deleted entirely from the six-year capital budget and the rest is being deferred at least a year beyond fiscal 1980, which begins next July 1.
The development projects included in the proposed cutbacks are:
Elm Street urban park, 46th and Elm streets, deferred to 1982.
Rock Creek tennis courts, near Beach Drive and Cedar Lane, deferred to 1983.
Willard Avenue neighborhood park, in Friendship Heights-Somerset area, deferred in 1982.
Parks previously deferred by the planning board staff include:
Battery Lane urban park, two blocks west of Wisconsin Avenue on Battery Lane, and Edgemoor urban park, Arlington Road and Hampden Lane, both deferred to 1981.
Agricultural history farm park, on Muncaster Road one mile north of Muncaster Mill Road, deferred to 1981.
Stewartown local park on Goshen Road, originally scheduled for this fiscal year, deferred to 1981.
Previously deferred parks include:
Blueberry Hill, near Redland Road and Baederwood Lane, deferred to 1981.
Gude Drive recreational park, north of Rockville near Gude Drive and Southlawn Lane, conversion of landfill site to park, deferred to 1982.
Muncaster recreational park, near Muncaster Road and Route 124, deferred to 1981 and 1982.
Redland local park, on Redland Road south of Muncaster Mill Road, deferred to 1982.
Greenwood local park, between Oliney and Brookville, shelter, fountain, play equipment, deleted.
Olney Square neighborhood park, Olney Square subdivision, playing field, bike paths, fountains, deleted.
Dickerson local park, tennis courts and shelter, deferred to 1983.
John Haines neighborhood park, in Damascus west of Route 27, playing fields, deleted.
South Germantown regional park, expansion of athletic fields, deferred to 1982.
Little Bennet regional park, near Hyattstown, deferred to 1981.
Eastern Montgomery County
Hillandale, on New Hampshire Avenue south of White Oak, additional tennis court and parking, deleted.
Martin Luther King Jr. recreational park, deferred to 1982.
Meadowood, on New Hampshire Avenue two miles north of White Oak, shelter, walks, fountain, deleted.
Stonegate local park, formerly called Noteley Road Park in Stonegate subsivision, deferred to 1982.
Woodlawn special park, on Ednor and Norwood roads, conference center, deferred to 1981.
Previously deferred t0 1981, [WORD ILLEGIBLE] mony Hills neighborhood park, on west side of Georgia Avenue.
Previously deferred to 1981, Kensington Heights neighborhood park at University Boulevard and McComas Street.