Patapsco Valley parks not suited to be Heritage Tourism Area [Letter]

There was no "misperception" about Patapsco Heritage Greenway. The Friends of Patapsco Valley and Heritage Greenway organization tried to create a Maryland Heritage Tourism Area by that name back in the 1990s. As I understand it, by 2000, numerous local environmental and community groups opposed the certification, Howard and Baltimore County withdrew support and the Sierra Club brought a lawsuit against it.

After settling the lawsuit out of court, the Friends spent 13 years clearing trash and garlic mustard out of Patapsco Valley State Park. Apparently the settlement has expired, along with our collective memories.

Doesn't Howard County remember paying the Friends for a certification plan that was never delivered? Doesn't the public remember the Friends getting $1.3 million spent on pavement in the state park?

"Tourism-based development" is the stated goal of the Maryland Heritage Area Authority. They're not "giving away" taxpayer dollars: they expect to get a return in economic development and increased tax revenue. There are 12 other Heritage Tourism Areas in Maryland that are better suited to development than the crowded Patapsco Valley and its over-used state park.

I'm glad to preserve history, but let's start with our own history on this issue.

Joanne Heckman, Conservation Committee co-chair

Sierra Club, Howard County Group


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