Friends of dairy farm state their case

May 06, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

About 30 county residents told Navy and Anne Arundel officials last night that the U.S. Naval Academy Dairy Farm in Gambrills should be preserved intact.

About 150 residents attended an informational meeting at Arundel Senior High School on the Navy's plans for the site and commented on them.

The 862-acre farm, founded in 1911, supplies dairy products for midshipmen.

The Navy is studying whether the farm is the best source for dairy products, and whether the farm might generate more profit to fund midshipmen's extracurricular activities if it were put to some other use, said Capt. John P. Collins, the academy's deputy for management.

"We, as taxpayers, are being led by the noses down the road toward a decision that has already been made," said resident David Daughters, who lives near the farm.

But Captain Collins said the Navy has made no decision on the the farm -- whether it will be kept intact, scaled back or eliminated. He said he does not know when that decision will be made.

However, he presented a preliminary plan.

Under the pproposal, 185 acres on the western part of the farm would be leased to Anne Arundel County for use as a "passive recreation" site, featuring nature trails and picnic pavilions.

The county would lease a 74-acre plot on the eastern edge of the site for athletic fields.

M. Joseph Cannon, county director of recreation and parks, said planners hope 12 fields could be built on the parcel, but the land has not yet been studied for wetlands and other feasibility issues. The county would also lease a 14-acre parcel between Route 175 and Maple Road for an indoor swimming pool or for government offices.

A parcel of undetermined size on the northern half of the farm would be kept for agricultural use, possibly to continue dairy farming.

The southern part of the farm would become a golf course, probably to be operated by a private contractor. Officials from both the Navy and the county said last night they would not want to assume responsibility for operating a golf course.

The plan is "very preliminary," Mr. Cannon said. He said that, other than his time, the county has spent no money on the plan.

One resident spoke in favor of the plan.

"We cannot afford to continue to subsidize that operation," said Bill Natter, who owns a business in Gambrills. "This [plan] appears to be a concept that would benefit all of us, as county citizens."

One woman asked that equestrians' needs be considered if the county leases any of the farm for recreational use.

But most of the residents at the meeting said they wanted the farm kept intact.

Several members of a 4-H club praised the farm, saying it gives them a place to learn dairy farming.

Many speakers said they came to the area for its rural nature.

Resident Beth Turner said, "We like our little bit of heaven back there."

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