State board correct on Smith Farm issue
I want to thank the Board of Public Works for its decision to deny state funding for ball fields at the Smith Farm.
Contrary to the assertion that it is none of the state's business, I would say that it certainly is the state's business when the state's money is involved. We should expect the state to see that its money is spent wisely.
I appreciate all the time Governor Schaefer, our state comptroller, and Governor Ehrlich took to investigate the sale of the Smith Farm: reading all the information and letters, talking to those involved, and watching the video in which John Gary said this property would be an equestrian farm for ever and ever. Their decision was made with honesty and integrity. We are fortunate to have politicians who are willing to stand up for the little person.
Thanks too to Herb McMillan for adding his voice to the call for fiscally responsible spending at the state and local levels.
The whole county should be grateful to Betsy Smith Gleaves for her generosity in selling her farm at a reduced price to Anne Arundel County to be preserved and used by the public as a horseback riding center when she had offers on the table from private developers. There is so little left of the rural life that once was on the Broadneck.
Now with the action of the state, we have the chance not only to preserve this beautiful farm, but also - with Gov. Ehrlich's magnanimous offer to work with County Executive Janet Owens and our other county officials - to fund more ball fields at the Nike site or elsewhere at a more suitable and appropriate location.
Birders back effort to keep natural area
The Maryland Ornithological Society (MOS) is a nonprofit organization that promotes conservation of birds and their habitats. We have 1,600 memberships composed of families and individuals who reside throughout Maryland.
The MOS is in favor of maintaining Franklin Point Natural Area as open space with use limited to low-impact, passive outdoor recreation and nature interpretive activities. Such use is in concert with the goals of the citizens of Maryland to protect the Chesapeake Bay and the unique wildlife and plants that live around its borders.
Grassland species are in particular peril; the loss of grassland in the eastern United States to changing farm practices, development, airfields, ballparks, and mining and industry is to blame. Franklin Point contains a sizable tract of viable grassland habitat that would be ideal for conservation of threatened grassland species.
Birding, unlike baseball or soccer, is a hobby practiced by individuals of all ages throughout life. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has documented birding as the most popular form of outdoor recreation in the United States.
Multipurpose ball fields would change Franklin Point forever. Please preserve this area in its natural state so that all citizens will benefit, not just a few for a few years of their lives.
Maureen F. Harvey
The writer is the chairwoman of the conservation committee of the Maryland Ornithological Society.