Unexpected Deal Throws Park Group

Site Near Fort Meade May Be Available

February 12, 1992|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

Members of a committee trying to find land in West County were surprised last week when the chairman of the County Council announced thathe may have a solution.

But County Councilman David G. Boschert'srevelation that 100 acres near Fort Meade may be available at a reduced price is getting mixed reviews from committee members.

While most of those interviewed like the proposal, they said the cryptic way Boschert made it public may overshadow their efforts in finding other park sites.

"We sort of got bogged down in this," said committee member Bert Rice. "Everyone's interest was high and we sort of got muddled. We sort of put the cart before the horse."

Boschert, D-Crownsville, said Potomac resident Doug Legum is willing to sell 100 acres south of Route 198 near Fort Meade to the county for $1million, even though it could be worth up to four times that much onthe open market.

Boschert said Legum would get a substantial tax break for selling the land to a public entity and the county would get prime park land at a reduced cost.

But Boschert also said that aCalifornia-based company may want to locate there. He touted it as apublic-private venture where the county would own the land and leasepart of it to the company.

Because the company is trying to decide whether to move to Anne Arundel County or Northern Virginia, Boschert would not reveal the company's name or say what it does. He said the property could be purchased whether or not the unnamed company decides to move here.

He brought Legum's attorney, Steve Resnick, to the meeting, but he could offer no further details, other than to promise that the community would like the company.

"I truely thought it was a bit premature," Delegate Marsha Perry, D-Crofton, said of Boschert's announcement. "We've got a lot of work to get done."

Another committee member, Ray Smallwood, president of the Maryland City Civic Association, said he was angry with Boschert for withholding thecompany's name.

"I'm opposed to it already," he said. "If it has to be under such a veil of secrecy, we don't need it . . . (Boschert)shouldn't have said anything. You can't open the door and then not let anyone in."

Boschert said he cannot reveal the name of the company or say what type of business it is because it may ruin the county's chances to have it locate here. He said his announcement was not premature.

"I wanted the committee to know what I was up to," he said. "They should know as soon as possible. This is only an alternate site proposal. I want the committee to be on it all the way from the beginning.

"I could have kept it all to myself -- kept it behind the scenes. But I wanted to share it with the rest of the committee."

Boschert's announcement surprised more than committee members. Mike Lofton, director of the county Office of Economic Development, saidhe was unaware of the park committee meeting.

He would only say that there is a company with "a very preliminary interest" in locatingin the county.

Boschert said the company would need less than half the 100 acres and would be compatible with ball fields.

He said the land could be purchased with federal payments the county is scheduled to receive in lieu of taxes for the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Those payments could be as much as $800,000 annually. Boschertsaid he expects the first payment before the end of this fiscal year.

Other committee members, however, said they want to make sure all the park site proposals are given equal time.

Dr. Clifford Andrew, a Severna Park resident who is active in the Severn River Association, said he thinks an ideal site for a park may be on the 900 acres that Fort Meade still must get rid of by 1995.

Although a good chunk of that land is a landfill and Tipton Army Airfield, Andrew said there likely is a good piece of land there that would be right for a park.

But, he said all the alternative sites the committee has comeup with would be far better than using any part of the 8,100 acres of surplus Fort Meade property that were added to the Patuxent wildlife property. Most committee members want to avoid turning any of that land into a park, as has been suggested by the county.

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