The county will receive a windfall from the transfer of Fort Meade land from the Army to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, County Council Chairman David Boschert said.
Based on federal payments to Prince George's County last year, Boschert said the county could receive up to $800,000 annually for the 8,000 acres transferred to the research center in October.
"You're talking about money going to (County Executive Robert R.)Bob Neall or his successors every year from now until hell freezes over," said Jim Golden, who has organized hundreds of outdoorsmen in opposition to Neall's plan.
Last year, the U.S. Department of the Interior paid the county $5,669 in lieu of property taxes for 432 acres already managed by the Fish & Wildlife Service's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Prince George's County received $389,000 last year for 4,200 acres of research center property in that county.
Spokesmen for Neall say they don't know how much money they will get or whenthey can expect to get it.
"Congress has to appropriate that money every year and it fluctuates," said Neall spokesman Mike Leahy. "It's not money you can actually plan on."
Boschert announced the potential payments Thursday night during the first meeting of task force, organized by the councilman and Del. Marsha G. Perry, D-Crofton, tofind potential park land in West County. They hope to find an alternative to a Neall proposal that would turn the Fort Meade property into a regional park with ball fields and picnic areas.
Cliff Andrew,a representative of the Severn River Association, said Neall's park plan would unnecessarily destroy forest and wildlife habitat.
"We have a tremendous resource in Fort Meade (property) without putting ball fields in," Andrew said. "It's the closest thing this county is going to get to a national park."
The task force, which includes residents from Crofton, Odenton
and Maryland City as well as a representative of the Sierra Club, have already recommended seven alternative, government-owned sites for park development.
Among the recommendations were 35 acres in Maryland City, currently owned by the Armybut where low-cost housing for the homeless has been proposed. One drawback is that the heavily wooded site adjacent to Brockbridge Elementary School would have to be cleared to build either housing or ballfields.
Ray Smallwood of Maryland City also suggested the county approach Washington, D.C., about acquiring a portion of its 400-acre Children's Center off Savage Road.
If the county must use Fort Meade property transferred to Patuxent, Golden recommended the county consider the old firing ranges, which have already been cleared, on theeastern edge.
He also suggested the county consider using 300 surplus acres that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service did not want becauseit contains a small Army landfill. "Still, a lot of room for trails and ball fields out there," Golden said.