Group wants to buy parcel sought for trail

DNR needs slice of land to use as construction site

Sierra Club opposes project

Man who owns property seeks to be paid for use

October 21, 2002|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

The Sierra Club, which has fiercely opposed a bike trail project in Patapsco Valley State Park, appears poised to offer to purchase a sliver of property needed to complete the trail.

Members of the group were prepared to put a down payment on the property last week, said Lee Walker Oxenham, an Ellicott City resident and director of the group's state Patapsco task force.

"This is an issue about what's going to happen in the future of this area," she said. "The Sierra Club is trying to protect the resource."

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved construction of the path in August after the project's supporters and opponents battled in public meetings and courtrooms.

Those in favor of the plan want increased access to the valley for residents, and those against it predict pollution and increased traffic.

More recently, the Department of Natural Resources learned that a tiny piece of land on the bank of the Patapsco River needed to complete the trail was owned by Michael A. Nibali, 57, of Ellicott City.

The DNR needs the sliver of property to assemble a new trail bridge to be placed on the remains of the Patterson Viaduct, an abandoned B&O Railroad bridge.

Construction crews also would have to cross the land to launch the 168-foot span to the abutment on the Baltimore County bank.

Nibali discovered construction on his property when he drove by the site several weeks ago. Crews had cleared the land of vegetation, although no other work had begun.

Trail construction officials hoped Nibali would agree to an easement that would allow them access to the property, measuring one-seventeenth of an acre at Bonnie Branch and Ilchester roads on the Howard County side of the river.

But Nibali said he told DNR officials that he wanted to be paid for use of his land.

He said he knows of parties other than the Sierra Club interested in buying the plot.

"If [DNR officials] do have somebody ready, we'll see," Nibali said. "Basically I'm looking for the best reasonable offer."

The DNR is in negotiations with Nibali, said Heather Lynch, an agency spokeswoman.

Work continues on other parts of the project, she said.

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