The state has scrapped its quest to build an equestrian park in Anne Arundel County amid new, daunting local opposition: a competing bid from the county to turn the former Naval Academy Dairy Farm into a working farm for the public, community gardens and a botanical garden.
J. Robert Burk, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, said the county's move eliminated any chance for the state to muster the necessary political support - specifically from County Executive John R. Leopold - for the estimated $114.2 million project off Route 3 in Gambrills.
"We were trying to reach out with open arms to the community and its leadership, but that got lost in the mix," he said. "We were not going to bring a proposal if local representatives were not in favor of it. It was disappointing, to say the least."
Burk said the board and the Maryland Stadium Authority remain committed to a horse park in Maryland.
State officials had laid out a blueprint in Gambrills for a visitors center, a museum, an indoor show ring with 2,500 fixed seats and stables for 840 horses. It was expected to draw 800,000 visitors a year.
Leopold announced Friday that the county would submit a bid to the Navy, which owns the property, by Monday's deadline to keep the site agricultural. Other features the county proposes there include a solar energy farm, a farm museum, pick-your-own produce and events like a fall corn maze.
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