The beach next door Parkland conundrum: Folks want nTC public open space nearby, just so it's not too public.

November 26, 1997

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY acted in the best long-term interest of its residents in 1985 when it bought 341 acres in Mayo, including 5,800 feet of Chesapeake Bay beachfront. Now a row has developed over future use of that property.

Should it be turned into a nature preserve, or be redeveloped into a park and recreationalcenter complete with basketball courts and a roller-hockey rink?

Many residents of the Mayo Peninsula say they now regret having participated in a planning process because it has resulted in a $6.7-million, four-phase redevelopment blueprint that would turn Beverly and Triton beaches into a park with a capacity for 800 visitors.

"We wanted a nature park. This is not a nature park. This is an amusement park," one community leader protested.

Added another, "There's a great concern that traffic on the peninsula is already bad and that this will just make it worse."

The Mayo Peninsula beach controversy is not unique. Residents love to have their properties border on public parkland -- as long as it is not too public.

A few years ago, a nearly identical flap developed in Baltimore County over the remnants of the old Bay Shore amusement park. The county wanted to redevelop it into a multi-purpose park. That plan was scuttled after nearby residents and environmentalists demanded that it be allowed to return to wilderness as part of the nearby Black Marsh Wildlife Reserve.

Nostalgia has sometimes been defined as a sense of the past with the pain removed. When old-timers recall the glory days of Beverly and Triton beaches -- or Bay Shore, for that matter -- they talk about the merriment without recalling any of the nuisances that included occasional overcrowding or traffic problems.

Current residents, in contrast, seldom recall the good old days. Instead, they worry that the tranquillity of their communities might be disturbed.

Anne Arundel officials are faced with a delicate task. In a county with strong demands for public recreation facilities, they have to assure open access to the parks. They also need the strength to resist the alarmist calls of people who regard public land as their private backyard and do not desire any strangers there.

Pub Date: 11/26/97

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