The planned expansion of Morgan Run Natural Environment Area, one ofjust two pieces of state parkland in Carroll, ended the year as it began -- in limbo.
The state first proposed to buy Greenway Gardens, 27 acres adjacent to the existing 1,300-acre park, in the summer of1990.
By last January, the Project Open Space money set aside for that purchase had been shifted to the state's general fund because of the blossoming budget crisis.
Then, the park was closed for six monthsas a cost-saving measure, along with the McKeldin area of Patapsco State Park in Marriottsville. That left Carroll with no state park land open to the public for several months.
A group of county volunteers eventually spruced up the park, repairing and repainting signs, fence posts, bird feeders and other facilities. The volunteers also helped maintain the park after it re-opened in July.
In August, the purchase was considered at a Maryland Board of Public Works meeting in Annapolis, but Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein balked at the purchase until the state inspected the buildings at Greenway Gardens, currently a privately owned arboretum, to make sure they were in good condition.
The project has not made it to the board's agenda since, though several county officials had planned to talk with the board in September to lobby for the purchase. But that meeting was canceled.
Eventually, the Project Open Space purchase again was put on indefinite hold because of the ongoing budget problems.
"It's still the No. 1 priority for the state in land acquisition for Project Open Space," said Richard Soisson of the county's Recreation and Parks Department, which has been keeping tabs on the planned purchase.
The Greenway Gardens tract is owned by Westminster resident Dottie de Wilde. The property is for sale at $525,000, while the state, if it makes thepurchase, plans to offer $450,000.
The park's master plan calls eventually for a 3,000-acre park. Some county outdoors enthusiasts also have requested a change in the designation of the area to allow forlimited hunting and fishing.