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Anne Arundel County

Navy pauses consideration of competing plans to lease Greenbury Point; Navy athletic official still seeks golf course

Greenbury Point in Annapolis is located on a 231-acre peninsula, managed by the US Navy, at the mouth of the Severn River in Anne Arundel County. The peninsula is a conservation area and is open to the public for hiking and nature observation.

The Navy is no longer considering competing proposals to lease Greenbury Point, one to build a new golf course, the other by Anne Arundel County to turn the space into a public park, a spokesperson for the service said. One Navy athletic official, however, is still confident that the Navy is going to consider plans to build a golf course on the peninsula.

The “unsolicited” sole source lease proposals from Naval Academy Golf Association President Chet Gladchuk and County Executive Steuart Pittman were competing with each other, thus making it no longer possible to consider either, Naval District Washington Director of Public Affairs Ed Zeigler said Wednesday. Sole source procurement — as opposed to competitive bidding — prohibits a property owner from considering more than one proposal at a time, Zeigler said.

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“Those proposals came to us unsolicited and right now since we’re not moving forward with either one, we’re evaluating where we are with Greenbury Point,” Zeigler said.

After the Navy’s announcement, Gladchuk said in a message to The Capital Wednesday that he’s still confident the Navy will review his proposal to build an 18-hole golf course. He promised a more comprehensive proposal that would address environmental concerns “will be reviewed by the Navy chain of command very shortly,” he said.

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Gladchuk, who also leads the Naval Academy Athletic Association, first floated the idea of building a course there in February. In a letter to Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Gladchuk requested a formal agreement to design, develop and operate a golf course near an existing course run by the golf association, which reopened in 2020 following an extensive $7 million renovation.

Since the Chesapeake Bay is such a highly protected environmental area, government regulations around the property will keep it environmentally sound, Gladchuk said.

“A golf course constructed today built within strict environmental guidelines and monitored by the Navy on that property would surpass every expectation by any agency or interested party,” he said. “The process to ultimately earn any permit for construction would be vastly comprehensive and welcome input from governing agencies and those with community interest.”

Last week, County Executive Steuart Pittman requested a long-term lease of the Greenbury Point parcel for management by the county’s Department of Recreation and Parks as a conservation area with public walking trails and other amenities. In a letter to Capt. Homer R. Denius, commanding officer of Naval Support Activity Annapolis, Pittman cited the concerns about a second golf course, saying there is a need to protect the property. He promised to use county funding to manage the property and work with the Navy to accommodate all mission-critical activities there.

The Navy did not immediately have a response to Pittman’s request last week, but on Monday said the second and competing Greenbury Point proposal has prompted them to end consideration of either. Denius decided Friday that they cannot provide the requested lease when there is a competing party interested in the property, according to Zeigler.

Through a spokesperson, Pittman declined a request for comment Tuesday on the Navy’s decision.

Multiple environmental organizations and elected officials have raised concern about the proposal to build a golf course so close to the Severn River and the Chesapeake Bay, citing pollution concerns. The parcel is inside the state’s critical area, a designation for land near tidal waters that is protected to reduce sediment and pollutant runoff by conserving trees that “buffer” pollution.

Matt Johnston, executive director of the Arundel Rivers Federation and former environmental policy director for Pittman, said any finely mowed grass and clearing of trees would be damaging to any piece of land, but particularly damaging when so close to the bay. While a golf course can be environmentally conscious, Johnston said, one so close to such an environmentally sensitive area that would require tearing down trees could not be.

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“In general, science shows us there is six times more nitrogen coming off of lawns,” Johnston said, largely because homeowners apply lots of fertilizer.

Additionally, the use of fertilizers can set off a chain reaction in nearby underwater ecosystems harming aquatic species.

Some of that excess fertilizer runs off the surface and, if that lawn is near a waterway, into the water. When it enters the water it helps algae grow, Johnston said. When those algae die they sink to the bottom of the water and decay. That decaying process takes up oxygen, creating dead zones in the water where organic matter cannot live harming aquatic life that create a thriving underwater ecosystem.

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“To me, a golf course is nothing more than a closely mowed lawn. It’s grass that requires fertilizers and other chemicals to keep it looking the way they need it to look,” he said.

Another concerned party, Chesapeake Conservancy, was glad to learn of the Navy’s decision.

“I am hopeful that this reflects a positive change of course for the Navy,” said Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn in a statement Monday. “I know with absolute certainty that the community will continue to advocate strongly for the permanent conservation of Greenbury Point Conservation Area and for continued equitable public access until that outcome is achieved.”

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Another group concerned about the potential environmental impacts of developing anything on Greenbury Point was a faction of Maryland’s federal delegation, consisting of U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes.

The four representatives co-signed a letter to Del Toro Tuesday urging the military to proceed with caution in reviewing proposals for the land.

Any approved proposal for Greenbury Point cannot negatively impact the nearby waterways including Carr Creek, Severn River and the Chesapeake Bay, must maintain its current level of public access and wetlands on the property must continue to be cared for, the legislators wrote.

“We urge you to carefully consider these requirements should you evaluate various proposals to redevelop or change Greenbury Point,” they wrote.


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