The Harford County Agricultural Center, which opened May 5 in Dublin, has been more than 20 years in the making.
It’s been a pet project of Harford County Executive Barry Glassman since before he was county executive. Since he’s been county executive, it’s been a priority of his administration, so much so that at one time we wondered how could he find money for the ag center, but wasn’t finding money for a new Havre de Grace High School. The vast difference between the costs of the two projects is but one obvious answer to our ponderings.
“Action expresses priorities,” Mahatma Gandhi is credited with saying.
Glassman’s actions say loudly and clearly the new ag center is one of his priorities.
There’s nothing wrong with that either.
Putting an ag center near the middle of what’s left of Harford County’s agricultural center is a good thing.
The Carroll County Farm Museum opened in the summer of 1966 and is one that area’s biggest tourist attractions, primarily with its educational programming and entertainment events.
Harford County’s ag center is designed to be more like, at least in a figurative sense, a working farm than a showpiece, which is not to say there won’t be ag preservation elements to the place. There will.
“For as many as 20 years, we always talked about having an ag center where we could consolidate all our ag services and preserve Harford County’s agricultural heritage,” Glassman said May 5 at the ribbon-cutting for the center.
As it opens, tenants for the ag center are the Harford County Farm Bureau, Harford County Soil Conservation District, the University of Maryland’s Cooperative Extension’s Harford County office, including its 4-H programs, and the state’s Department of Forest Pest Management.
“We think this spot will certainly grow and serve future generations of farmers for research, preservation and all that we do to help celebrate and preserve Harford County’s farming history,” Glassman said.
Growth and development of the site into more than what it is as it opens is key to how wise it was to create an ag center. If it never becomes much more than just the former Glen Echo furniture store turned into offices and meeting space, it will be OK. As it sits, it’s saving the county $52,000 in rents elsewhere and generating $27,000 in rent payments annually. That $79,000 annual turnaround is a good thing.
But there has to be more. Glassman has talked about ag research. There are other paths it could follow, too. What comes next is “still in the visionary stages,” Glassman said.
What’s happened so far with the ag center has been good. What happens next, as long as the vision becomes reality, could be great.