County moves for­ward with plan to turn golf course into park

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JES­SICA IAN­NETTA jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com Of­fer Ex­pires 10/31/17

ELK­TON — Af­ter re­ceiv­ing state funds to pur­chase the for­mer Brant­wood Golf Course for use as a park last week, the county is cur­rently work­ing to­ward a set­tle­ment date as well as form­ing a com­mit­tee to lead the project.

Dur­ing last Wed­nes­day’s state Board of Pub­lic Works meet­ing, the county was awarded $930,000 in Pro­gram Open Space funds to pur­chase the prop­erty lo­cated at 1190 Au­gus­tine Herman High­way.

The prop­erty is the for­mer home of Bit­ter­sweet Golf Course, which closed down in 2014 af­ter open­ing in the 1960s as Brant­wood Golf Course. Since then, the prop­erty has been aban­doned, un­til John Gior­dano, one of the own­ers of Schaefer’s Canal House in Ch­e­sa­peake City, pur­chased the prop­erty. Last sum­mer, the county an­nounced that it was ex­plor­ing pur­chas­ing the land for use as a park.

Clyde Van Dyke, county di­rec­tor of parks and recre­ation, said the county ex­pects to go to set­tle­ment with the owner in the next three to six months. The county’s op­tion to pur­chase is for 121 acres of the for­mer golf course, and does not in­clude the for­mer coun­try club build­ing on the prop­erty that was re­cently leased for use by That Per­for­mance Place, a per­for­mance arts school.

In the mean­time, Van Dyke plans to form a steer­ing com­mit­tee com­prised of mem­bers of the parks and recre­ation board, mem­bers of the pub­lic and lo­cal busi­ness own­ers to set a time­line and over­see the project.

As part of the process, there will be at least two pub­lic meet­ings to hear feed­back from the com­mu­nity, he added.

Van Dyke said he’s not mak­ing any prom­ises yet as to what the park will or will not in­clude, not­ing it all de­pends on what funds are avail­able.

“It all comes down to bud­get,” he said. “It’s just go­ing to be a mix­ture of pas­sive and ac­tive recre­ation.”

While the pur­chase of the golf course is funded en­tirely through state funds from Pro­gram Open Space, a state pro­gram un­der the Mary- land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, de­vel­op­ment and op­er­at­ing costs would be borne by the county. With­out a master plan, it’s too early to say how much that might be.

Since its in­cep­tion in 1969, Pro­gram Open Space has pro­tected 380,000 acres of land, ac­cord­ing to the DNR.

The pro­gram is funded by a 0.5 per­cent state prop­erty trans­fer tax, which was de­signed so that de­vel­op­ment would be tied with funds for open space and recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties. Twenty per­cent of the state’s land is de­vel­oped, with 19 per­cent con­served.

In de­cid­ing to pur­chase the golf course for use as a park, county of­fi­cials noted that it would help with the lack of park­land in the south­ern part of county. Aside from nearby Ch­es­land Park on Elk For­est Road, which has a long-term lease with the Ce­cil Soc­cer or­ga­ni­za­tion, there are no other county parks south of Elk­ton.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

The en­trance to the for­mer Brant­wood Golf Course, where a county park may be lo­cated in the fu­ture, is now closed.

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