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Proposed Sammelmann Park soccer fields met with concern

A group of Whitmoor subdivision residents don’t want a soccer field that could be part of a new St. Charles County Park abutting their subdivision.

Whitmoor residents told the County Council at its July 27 meeting that while they supported the development of a new 120-acre county park bordered by Pitman Hill and Kisker roads they don’t want the field to disrupt their neighborhood.

The residents forwarded a petition with 106 signatures to county officials asking that the field be removed from the plan or moved to the opposite side of the park.

Steve Sullivan, a subdivision resident, told the council during the public comment portion of the meeting that a concept plan and map of the park show the field too close to Pitman Road.  Sullivan and other residents said the location might be too noisy and pose dangers to children using the field.

The County Parks and Recreation Department unveiled the plan and map at an open house at the Kisker Road Library in July. The county paid $6 million for the property, known as the Sammelmann Farm and Homestead, in 2014.

The concept plan indicates a paved walking trail, nature play area, banquet and meeting facilities, fishing pond, disc golf course, and three soccer fields.

Bettie Yahn-Kramer, the county’s director of parks and recreation, said on July 13 that Sammelmann’s fields were practice fields that would not be lighted and that there were no plans to rent the fields out for practices or game use.

Yahn-Kramer also said the concept plan has not been finalized. County officials hope to get construction underway by the end of this year, with completion by the end of 2017 or early 2018.

Sullivan said the county’s own survey of residents about potential development of the park indicated residents wanted to see natural recreational amenities in the park rather than athletic fields. The county’s survey drew 3,837 responses, with a majority interested in walking trails, fishing ponds, picnic shelters and nature and conservation areas.

“It was clear that a soccer field is not what most people were asking for,” Sullivan said. “We all like the park, we’re just opposed to the location of the field.”

Tom Douglas, another resident, said residents are worried that their property values might be affected by the location of the field. Parking could spill over into the subdivision, which has private streets, and parked vehicles might damage property, he said.

Another resident, Ruth Williams, agreed the park was great but suggested the county erect a fence separating the park from the subdivision.

Councilman Mike Elam (District 3) told residents that the concept plan was “just a draft.”

“The whole purpose of showing it was so people could do their feedback and give their comments,” Elam said.

He said the residents and other concerns voiced at the open house were being evaluated by county officials and that the plan is in the process of being redrafted.

“You’ve been heard,” Elam said.

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