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Bidding for ex-Navy farm closes

The Baltimore Sun

A week after the state withdrew its plan to build a $114.2 million horse park at the former Naval Academy Dairy Farm, two other parties that had shown interest in leasing the Gambrills site said yesterday that they are also out of the running.

After the Navy closed the two-month bidding period yesterday on the 857-acre property in western Anne Arundel, a spokesman declined to disclose the identities, or even the number, of bidders, but at least three entities - including Anne Arundel County - said they made confidential offers for the land.

The YMCA of Central Maryland, which had considered building a community center early on, backed off. "We understood there was a strong preference that the property remain agricultural," spokeswoman Monica Booker said.

Despite indications in 2005 from Warren E. "Cookie" Halle that his company, the Halle Cos., was interested in the farm property, Halle vice president Stephen N. Fleischman said yesterday that was never the case.

"We have never submitted anything in writing and never spoken with anyone" about the Gambrills land, Fleischman said.

Among the parties that submitted lease proposals: Anne Arundel County, which wants to continue organic farming there and add community gardens, a botanical garden and education programs; Maryland Sunrise Farms LLC, an organic farming operation and the current leaseholder; and a joint proposal from Chaney Enterprises and Reliable Contracting Co. Inc.

Reliable's president, Jay Baldwin, said his team has scrapped plans to create a 200-acre lake as part of its proposed sand-and-gravel mining operation. He said the plans now call for building a series of earthen filters, including bogs, to purify runoff.

Navy spokesman John Verrico said the deliberation of similar lease bids takes about two months. Maryland Sunrise Farms' lease expires in February 2008.


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