We want your opinions

March 18, 2007


The state has scrapped its quest to build a giant equestrian park in Anne Arundel County amid new, daunting local opposition: a competing bid from the county to turn the former Naval Academy Dairy Farm into a working farm for the public, and community gardens and a botanical garden.

J. Robert Burk, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, said the county's move eliminated any chance for the state to muster the necessary political support - specifically from County Executive John R. Leopold - for the estimated $114.2 million project off Route 3 in Gambrills.

"We were trying to reach out with open arms to the community and its leadership, but that got lost in the mix," he said. "We were not going to bring a proposal, if local representatives were not in favor of it. It was disappointing, to say the least."

Burk said the board and the Maryland Stadium Authority remain committed to a horse park in Maryland.

"We have intense interest from other parts of the state," he said.

Harford, Cecil, Carroll, Frederick and Wicomico counties had competed with Anne Arundel, but Arundel's central location won over Stadium Authority officials, who selected it in 2005 over Cecil County.

State officials had laid out a blueprint in Gambrills for a visitors center, a museum, an indoor show ring with 2,500 fixed seats and stables for 840 horses. It was expected to draw 800,000 visitors a year.

Leopold announced Friday that the county would submit a bid to the Navy, which owns the property, by tomorrow's deadline to keep the site agricultural. Other features the county proposes there include a solar energy farm, a farm museum, pick-your-own produce and events like a fall corn maze.


Tell us what you think at arundel.speakout@baltsun.com by Thursday. Please keep your responses short, and include your name, address and phone number. A selection will be published next Sunday.

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