Patapsco Valley plan draws concerns [Letter]

The plan described in the article headlined, "Organization creates plan to preserve Patapsco River Valley" (March 26), is for Patapsco Heritage Greenway, Inc. to become the "managing entity" of a new heritage area, eligible to receive $100,000 a year in state funds to run their office. No wonder they say, "We're very excited about this plan."

To get the state certification, the public will need to be as excited about giving the money as the PHG is to get it. The current plan is a draft and identifies general initiatives only. The specific ways of "investing public dollars to create tourism-related products," as the Heritage Areas Program puts it, should come from the historic communities themselves.

As for Patapsco Valley State Park and other open space, the expressed goal of the Heritage Areas Program is "conservation of natural areas important to the state's character and environment." To me, that means enforceable guarantees of natural resource preservation. Promoting increased tourism at the expense of the environment will devalue both.

Our parkland belongs to all of us and so does our history. Management plans for these shared assets should be the concern of every citizen, not just those who expect to profit from economic development for heritage tourism.

Joanne Heckman, Columbia

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