Harford County government has been struggling for nearly 10 years now to complete the popular Ma and Pa Trail, designed for hikers and bikers.
The Bel Air and Forest Hill sections have a two-mile gap in between with no trail. The completion has been held up entirely because one property owner will not sell a narrow strip along the back of his property for the trail right of way. He owns four acres and the needed land is about three tenths of an acre, only 7 percent of his property. This small loss of land would not have a serious impact on the owner's use of the property.
The county refuses to use their right of eminent domain, seizure of the property with fair compensation, even though state law permits this for parks and recreation purposes. The county executive claims this is not proper. I submit he is wrong. The county's 2013 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan recommends completion of the trail as well as numerous other pedestrian/bicycling improvements. Trail use would increase even more with completion of the eight mile trail and provide a trail link between Bel Air and Forest Hill. The county is way behind many other Maryland counties in providing a long multi-use trail. Athletic fields in parks are fine, but we need more opportunities for independent, healthful recreation in the beautiful outdoors.
I am asking concerned Harford citizens to encourage the county executive and county council to do the right thing, acquire the land and complete the trail.