County moves forward with plan to turn golf course into park
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.
The entrance to the former Brantwood Golf Course, where a county park may be located in the future, is now closed.