Recreational opportunities a priority for Prince George’s councilwoman -- Gazette.Net


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While 2012 saw the completion of long-desired new construction projects, such as a library and middle school, Prince George’s County Councilwoman Ingrid Turner (D-Dist. 4) of Bowie said her efforts in 2013 will include projects such as looking at improving local recreational options and playgrounds.

“We should be proud of what we have to offer,” Turner said to about 20 residents for an informal “Chat and Chew” meeting at a Greenbelt restaurant. Turner’s district includes Bowie, Glenn Dale and Greenbelt.

Turner pointed to 2012 achievements such as the opening of the new Greenbelt Middle School on Aug. 20. The 143,277-square-foot, two-story building was the only new school built in 2012 and replaced the nearly 75-year-old former Greenbelt Middle, Turner said.

Last year also saw the Oct. 25 opening of the new $12.5 million South Bowie Library. Turner said the project had a personal sense of accomplishment.

“When I was growing up as a kid we talked about having a library in south Bowie,” she said. “That was one of my driving forces.”

John Henry Jones, Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizen of 2012, cited the ease at reaching Turner or her staff members.

“She’s been very supportive of the district,” he said.

Turner said the County Council faces major challenges in 2013.

The council faces a rough budget season, Turner said. County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) is required to present his budget for fiscal 2014 on March 15 and is trying to close a roughly $152-million projected budget deficit.

Even with that financial challenge, Turner said she’ll work to see if money can be found to focus on renovating and upgrading recreational spaces, particularly playgrounds.

“I don’t want us to have playgrounds that are 40 years old,” she said. “That’s not attractive to kids.”

Greenbelt Mayor Judith Davis who was in attendance at the talks agreed with Turner on the importance of engaging playgrounds particularly in how they can provide young people safe activities.

“A lot of these young people need places to go otherwise they’re on a street corner,” she said. “Before the fringe kids end up in trouble give them someplace to go.”

Another council challenge is spearheading the funding and construction of a proposed $600 million regional hospital center, Turner said. Turner encouraged residents to come to a planned forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover for a discussion of the need for and proper place to base the hospital. No site for the hospital has yet been announced, but locations such as the old Landover Mall in Landover or a site near the Largo Metro Station or close to the Wegmans in Woodmore Towne Center in Lanham have been discussed, Turner said.

amccombs@gazette.net