Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman has proposed the county lease the land at Greenbury Point in Annapolis to stave off plans by the U.S. Navy for the development there of an 18-hole golf course.
On Wednesday, Pittman sent a letter to Capt. Homer R. Denius, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity Annapolis, requesting a long-term lease of the 240-acre Greenbury Point parcel for management by the county’s Department of Recreation and Parks as a conservation area with public walking trails. Pittman said he is prepared to spend county money to develop a concept design and collect public input.
“We propose to preserve and enhance its current conservation uses, rather than create new ones,” Pittman wrote.
According to the Navy’s website, Greenbury Point currently is “a mission-supportive natural resources conservation area [that] has become a popular hiking destination for nature lovers, runners, walkers, and dog walkers.”
Pittman said the county is willing to extend the natural and paved trails and consider water access improvements such as a fishing area, observation outlooks and a shoreline park to serve kayakers and other paddlers.
A Navy spokesperson could not provide a comment Thursday on Pittman’s plan.
The proposal is in response to a request made in February by the Naval Academy Golf Association for a long-term lease of the same land to construct an 18-hole golf course. Association President Chet Gladchuk, who also leads the Naval Academy Athletic Association, said the group is interested in making public access improvements, including hiking trails and a boat launch, and is seeking approval to study development at Greenbury Point. Nearly six months later, the Navy is still considering Gladchuk’s proposal.
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“I applaud Mr. Pittman for his leadership and appreciate the fact that his vision and the interests of [the Naval Academy Golf Association] are very much aligned in identifying and addressing a wide array of environmental matters and concerns in that area,” Gladchuk said Thursday.
The county also would provide “modest” additional parking and a ranger substation for the area to support the lease, if granted, Pittman wrote, adding that concept designs and public outreach for the project can be funded through the current budget, as maintaining Greenbury Point for conservation aligns with the county’s general development plan.
Pittman said the county would work with the Navy to accommodate all mission-critical activities on the property. A rifle range is located at Greenbury Point, and public access is restricted when it is in use.
“In addition, we would be interested in pursuing environmental improvements to the property, including enhancing natural meadow areas, creating more pollinator habitats, planting native tree species for reforestation, removing harmful invasive species and planting shoreline grasses for erosion control and wildlife habitat,” Pittman wrote.
The county has an existing long-term lease with the Navy to use the former Navy Dairy Farm in Gambrills, as well as an existing easement for three historic radio towers on the Greenbury Point property, only one of which is still in use, according to the county.
In the letter, Pittman acknowledged that the golf course proposal “has generated concern and alarm” among residents who hope the property remains a preservation area. Environmental groups like The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Chesapeake Conservancy say they oppose the golf course proposal. A “Save Greenbury Point” Facebook group has more than 2,000 members who have continued to organize opposition to the plan since it was announced.
“I understand and share their concern, as Greenbury Point is a site that is beloved by the community for its passive nature, rich history and extraordinary views of the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay,” Pittman wrote.