When Bob Kuntz looks at the newly finished B & A Trail, he sees the end of year's of hard work. A former Severna Park Jaycees president, he credits the idea for the recreational trail to fellow Jaycee, Jim Hague.
Hague, he says, proposed a linear hiking park in 1972. What better way to use the abandoned Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad lines that cut a swath through Severna Park to Annapolis, he reasoned.
Later, Kuntz recalls, the Jaycees spent weekends straining on a home-made machine, built from two lawn mowers, mounted on the abandoned rails. The volunteers would haul the contraption back and for, cutting down the tenacious growth that had sprung up in the decade since the last train rolled.
With the device, dubbed the "rail-rider," volunteers kept a section of the path in Severna Park clear of encroaching vegetation. The civic group kept the rail bed up for seven years, until county officials turned it into a park in 1979.
The history of the trail and the Jaycees are intertwined -- and the group hasn't finished yet.
On one recent wet Saturday, Kuntz organized Jaycees chapters from Severna Park, Glen Burnie, Broadneck and Annapolis and planted mile markers along the trail. Fifteen Jaycees worked for five hours placing the 28 markers on the 14-mile trail, which stretches from Route. 50 in Annapolis to Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie.
The idea for the markers came to Kuntz one day when, after walking along the trail, he discovered that he had no idea how far he had traveled.
"I ran into (B&A trail ranger) Dave Dionne, and brought it up we started talking about it and it went from there," he remembers.
From there, Kuntz enlisted the Annapolis Striders, a group of amateur runners that uses the trail for weekend runs and other activities.
Using a sophisticated bicycle-mounted electronic odometer to measure the distance, the volunteers marked locations along the trail every half-mile.
The two-foot tall markers, made of pressured-treated lumber, are located a few feet off the trail, on the left side if you're going north. Each is set in in 1 feet of concrete. Plaques secured to each of the markers acknowledge the Jaycee chapter that planted it.
By placing the markers themselves, Kuntz estimates that his group saved the county $2,500. The project's materials ended up costing approximately $700, which was donated by Newth Morris, Jaycee member and president of the Dixie Printing and Packaging Co. in Glen Burnie. Pasadena Tool Rental contributed the power tools to make the markers, and the various Jaycees volunteered their labor.
Kuntz looks forward to Sunday's opening ceremonies with a sense of accomplishment. Looking back, the long-time county resident remembers some initial opposition to the trail. Today all he hears is praise for the now-popular linear park.
"It's surprising. In the beginning, there was some opposition to the trail. I think it's great, something I think the community really enjoys."