Academy's dairy farm may become golf links

March 15, 1994|By Tom Bowman and John Rivera | Tom Bowman and John Rivera,Sun Staff Writers

The U.S. Naval Academy is moving ahead with plans to turn the bulk of its 862-acre dairy farm in Gambrills into a golf course.

Academy officials have decided to award an architectural contract to create a concept drawing of a golf course at the 83-year-old farm, which provides milk, cream and juices to the 4,100 midshipmen.

But Lt. Cmdr. Paul Weishaupt, an academy spokesman, said the academy is working with local officials and civic groups on possible uses for the property, and there has been no final decision on a golf course.

A golf course is among a "variety of options," although he declined to discuss other possibilities.

A March 11 memorandum written by Capt. John P. Collins, deputy for management, to the academy's supply officer, requests that the concept drawing include "an area set aside for continued Dairy Farm operations and a potential future use by Anne Arundel County."

A copy of the memo was obtained by The Sun.

"I have concept sketches and can provide the selected golf course architect with this information after a contract has been awarded," Captain Collins wrote, noting that Lindsey Irving and Associates, a Crofton architectural firm, has done similar work and is familiar with local planning and use constraints.

The dairy farm, an academy institution, borders Routes 3 and 175 and Waugh Chapel Road, northwest of Annapolis. Last year the federal government spent about $1.2 million to operate the farm, academy officials said.

Last September the academy spent $7,000 for a feasibility study of a golf course on the site. A Florida company, PGA Tour Golf Course Properties, recommended a $19.5 million semiprivate facility with 2,000 members.

Ardath Cade, the county's top human services officer, said she and other county officials have met "a couple of times" recently with academy officials to discuss plans for the farm, including setting aside a portion of it for county recreational use.

"We talked about what the county needs and what might be appropriate there in relation to the things already there," she said.

However, the academy has made no specific proposal to the county.

County Executive Robert R. Neall has formed a committee that includes local residents to study any proposal the academy will make. Mrs. Cade said the committee will meet with county and academy officials within the next week.

The Naval Academy already has a golf club, an 18-hole course that opened in 1940 next to Mill Creek and is operated by the Naval Academy Athletic Association.

Congress ordered the creation of the dairy as a source of safe, clean milk for midshipmen in 1911, after a local typhoid outbreak. It can be closed only with congressional authorization.

Still, several studies over the past 28 years have said the dairy farm is a money loser and should close. Internal academy documents obtained by The Sun last fall show that the academy could save more than $340,000 a year by using a private dairy.

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