MARYLAND

Plan Would Use Connector Land for Park

A Montgomery County Council majority plans to introduce a resolution today urging the County Planning Board to turn property that would make up the centerpiece of the intercounty connector road into parkland and remove the road from planning books.

The move follows the decision by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) to abandon plans to build the road that would link Interstates 270 and 95 north of the Capital Beltway. Glendening endorsed building the road's eastern and western segments, leaving a middle component that road opponents say keeps the connector alive.

Now a bipartisan majority of five council members wants the 190 acres between Georgia Avenue and Route 29 turned into a park and the road erased after five decades on planning maps. The planning board must approve the recommendation, which could take several years to carry out.

The council members sponsoring the resolution are Derick Berlage (D-Silver Spring), Blair G. Ewing (D-At Large), Philip Andrews (D-Rockville), Betty Ann Krahnke (R-Potomac-Bethesda) and Nancy Dacek (R-Upcounty).

Annapolis to Honor Author Alex Haley

Annapolis and Anne Arundel County officials yesterday announced plans to unveil a long-awaited memorial to "Roots" author Alex Haley on the City Dock next month.

The life-size statue of Haley, whose best-selling novel and subsequent television miniseries inspired a national wave of interest in African American history, will stand near the spot in the Annapolis harbor where his ancestor Kunte Kinte first was brought ashore from a slave ship. Haley died in 1992.

The statue, by sculptor Ed Dwight, will be unveiled in a ceremony Dec. 9.

VIRGINIA

Decision on Racetracks Postponed

The Virginia Racing Commission postponed a decision yesterday on two rival horse racetracks proposed in Prince William County, saying it needs more time to analyze whether either venture could succeed in the financially risky racing market.

Colonial Downs Inc., which operates the state's only racetrack, southeast of Richmond, wants to build a steeplechase track just off Interstate 95 in Dumfries. Middleburg developer James J. Wilson proposes a turf track in rural Nokesville, near the Fauquier County line. Each track would cost about $20 million to build.

The five-member racing panel has expressed misgivings about both applicants' ability to turn a profit and to nurture the state's horse industry.

Commissioners said they would vote on the proposals Nov. 17. Both tracks also would need local approval.

Sinkhole Snarls Chain Bridge Traffic

A sinkhole formed early yesterday on the Arlington side of the Chain Bridge, causing officials to reroute District-bound traffic for 10 hours while crews repaired the roadway.

The 5-by-5-foot hole measured 10 feet at its deepest point and opened at 5:30 a.m. in the northbound lane of the approach to the bridge. No one was injured, officials said.

Northbound traffic was diverted to one of two southbound lanes while crews with the Virginia Department of Transportation dug out the unstable ground, creating a 12-by-18-foot hole, and then stabilized it using rock, dirt and asphalt. The lane was reopened to traffic at 3 p.m.

Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for VDOT, said that it was not known what caused the ground to collapse but that it may have been compromised by a water-main break last month.

Men Injured in Culpeper Plane Crash

A single-engine plane crashed in Culpeper County yesterday, seriously burning two men inside, state police said. The men walked away from the crash.

State Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said John Graves, 39, of Leesburg, and Chad Dillon, 27, of Herndon, were flying in the homemade ultralight plane near Culpeper Municipal Airport when the plane went down at 2:30 p.m.

A fisherman on a boat in the Rappahannock River saw the plane go down and picked up the men, who were then flown to the University of Virginia hospital in Charlottesville.

THE REGION

Grants to Aid Programs for Gay Teenagers

Gay teenagers will produce a musical to be performed at 10 high schools in the region, and foster parents will be found for children who are abused because of their sexuality under grants awarded this week by a special fund set up by the Community Foundation.

The Bridge Builders Fund is intended to help span the gap between straight and homosexual communities. Nine nonprofit organizations will share $60,000 in grants.

Other grants will be used to hold workshops in which members of religious groups meet with members of the gay, bisexual and transgendered community; to fund counseling for Latino youth and their families; and to bring a program that addresses violence against gays to more D.C. schools.

THE DISTRICT

Statehood-Green Merger Proposed

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics will discuss a proposed merger of the D.C. Statehood and Green parties at its 10:30 a.m. meeting tomorrow.

Alice P. Miller, executive director of the board, said members of the Statehood Party made the request in October. If the board approves the merger, Miller said, the new organization will be called the D.C. Statehood Green Party. The Green Party would officially dissolve, Miller said.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed merger and name change. The meeting will be at One Judiciary Square, 441 Fourth St. NW, in room 280.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I'll tell you part of why this controversy so worries me. I'm afraid of anything that might make me have to listen to those songs again."

--Virginia state Del. James K. {ldquo}Jay{rdquo} O'Brien Jr. (R-Fairfax), one of the judges of the contest to pick a new state song.

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