At the first environmental committee meeting for the proposed Patapsco Heritage Greenway, 15 environmentalists agreed to recommend that the state Department of Natural Resources do more research before building a 1.2-mile, 10-foot-wide paved trail on the Baltimore County side of the Patapsco River.
"The problem is, after they do this section, they are going to be back again," said Steve Stover of Relay, a member of the Audubon Society. "You're talking about a park that's already inundated with people."
The greenway would link the trails of Patapsco Valley State Park with museums and restaurants in the surrounding towns. Critics say the project would attract too many tourists and destroy the environment.
In response to that criticism, greenway Chairman John Slater formed the environmental committee, which met for the first time last night at the Benjamin Banneker Museum in Oella.
"You can't have good tourism if you destroy the goose that lays the golden egg," Slater said.
Larry Meyer, an avid fly-fisherman from Ellicott City, said the plan might do just that.
"I see the park itself as the golden egg and the tourists as the thing that is going to kill the golden egg," Meyer said. "I believe there are really serious environmental concerns here. What I would like to see is a really comprehensive looky-see at this thing that involves the whole valley."
Steven Lee, director of the museum, organized the meeting. He said he has been pushing for an environmental committee for more than a year and proposed that future meetings would be open to anyone.
Carol Fisher, a Maryland Interfaith Coalition for the Environment representative, said she is concerned that funds for the proposed bike trail would be coming from a state program that seeks to encourage tourism and economic development.
"Can those monies be used for an environmental impact statement?" she asked.
Not all environmentalists oppose the project.
Bob Garner, an environmentalist, said, "I've seen greenways work in other communities and I'd like to see it work here."
Pub Date: 2/26/99