Parcel is missing piece of Patapsco bike trail

Work stops as DNR seeks access to land for use as construction site

October 16, 2002|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

A hotly debated project to build a mile-and-a-quarter-long paved bicycle path through Patapsco Valley State Park along the border of Howard and Baltimore counties has hit another snag that could significantly delay its completion.

Construction of the path was approved in August by the Maryland Board of Public Works after a long fight between supporters who favor opening the valley to more users and opponents who fear the effects of increased traffic and water runoff.

But the state Department of Natural Resources has stopped work on an upstream section of the path while it attempts to get permission to use one-seventeenth of an acre of land owned by an Ellicott City man.

Construction vehicles need to use that tiny property - the former site of the Ilchester Road post office - to assemble a new span that will carry the path across the Patapsco River using old Patterson Viaduct railroad bridge supports.

The builders also plan to cross the property to carry supplies for construction of downstream portions of the path.

But the owner of the land, Michael A. Nibali, 57, of Ellicott City, says he wants the state to purchase the parcel from him or work around it.

Doing the necessary research to purchase the land could take a year to 18 months, officials managing the project for the DNR told Nibali. They have asked him to sign an easement allowing them to use the land for 18 months, though they say the project would be completed within a year.

Although "they are respecting [my] private property," Nibali said, "it seems absurd to me. They made an assumption [that the land belonged to the state]. That is not a smart way to do business."

The Department of Natural Resources thought that the Ellicott City parcel, located at Ilchester and Bonnie Branch roads, was the state's to use, said spokeswoman Heather Lynch.

"The parcel is so small it didn't show up on the main map," she explained.

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