Land should not be swapped for a stadium
The Central Maryland Heritage League is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the conservation and stewardship of South Mountain battlefield in Washington County. We are concerned by a non-binding agreement by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) with the U.S. Department of the Interior to exchange 2,481 acres in South Mountain State Battlefield for 512 acres at Oxon Cove National Park in Prince George’s County, where a stadium for the Washington Redskins is proposed to be built.
The acreage in Western Maryland that would be given to the National Park Service currently is preserved battlefield land belonging to the state as South Mountain State Battlefield. The South Mountain State Battlefield already is doing an excellent job of preserving, caring for and interpreting the site. There are three newly renovated museum and visitor centers in the park that are staffed seasonally by the state, interpretive trails and regularly scheduled living history programs. If the NPS takes over the site, state employees would lose their jobs.
The NPS already has a maintenance backlog in the millions of dollars that has existed for decades. How can the NPS take on the additional acreage and the property management responsibilities that would come with the acquisition of South Mountain State Battlefield without significant additional funding? Where will the additional funding to incorporate, manage, maintain, police and interpret the new area come from?
The Central Maryland Heritage League is concerned that should the park be given to the NPS, South Mountain battlefield will be mothballed by the NPS because of lack of funding, leaving the story of the battle resulting in more than 5,000 casualties untold, and all the state and private funding and untold hours of effort that went into making the park what it is today will be lost.
Maryland already has two professional football stadiums. We do not need another new stadium to be built on what is now undeveloped green space in Prince George’s County. Oxon Cove is a green oasis and farm museum in an area already bursting with development. It is a limited resource that should be preserved and enjoyed by citizens.
Leave the Redskins at FedEx Field and South Mountain State Battlefield in the hands of the state, which has managed it well all these years. Let NPS continue to provide a green oasis at Oxon Cove and not add to the already thin resources of the NPS. Governor Hogan needs to let this one go. The status quo is what is best for all concerned.