The following is a letter to the editor published in the Cecil Whig on Friday, Aug. 15. This piece is cross-posted from the blog, someonenoticed.wordpress.com, which contains much more information in this attempt. Please see that blog for much more information on this subject.)
The Mayor and Commissioners of Elkton are considering a proposal to sell 20 acres of public park land near the end of Landing Lane. When this parcel was acquired at the end of 2002, it was joined with another 42 publically held acres to form a sizable open space near the center of the county’s most densely developed area. The board has discussed hiring a consultant to oversee the process since a large retailer is interested in building on the site. At several meetings, Commissioner Gary Storke spoke against the loss of the open space and hiring of the consultant. Other officials either supported the proposal or were largely silent on this public land policy matter.
The property was acquired through funding provided by Maryland’s Open Space Program. In the grant application, media coverage, and governmental records, the town’s leadership noted the significance of preserving this space just a few years ago. Comments such as it is a critical part of the greenway and park system, is consistent with the comprehensive plan, contains rich archaeological resources, and is an important part of the town’s heritage are noted. It was also stated that this acquisition relieved development pressure, protecting one of Elkton’s few resources on the National Register of Historic Places, Elk Landing.
These were valid statements when officials originally made them and they are accurate today. The land did not become a less valuable open space once a commercial developer expressed an interest in the property.