The Central Maryland Heritage League is a non-profit organization that advocates for the conservation and stewardship of South Mountain battlefield. We are concerned by Governor Larry Hogan’s non-binding agreement with the Department of the Interior to exchange 2,481 acres in South Mountain State Battlefield for 512 acres at Oxon Cove Park in Prince George’s County, where a stadium for the Washington Redskins is proposed to be built (“Proposed Redskins site does not go unused, despite what Hogan says,” Dec. 12).
The acreage in western Maryland that would be given to the National Park Service is currently preserved battlefield land belonging to the state as South Mountain State Battlefield. The battlefield already is doing an excellent job of preserving, caring for and interpreting the site. There are three newly renovated museum and visitor centers in the park that are staffed seasonally by the state, interpretive trails and regularly scheduled living history programs. If the park services takes over the site, state employees will lose their jobs.
The park service already has a maintenance backlog in the millions of dollars that has existed for decades. How can the park service take on the additional acreage and the property management responsibilities that would come with the acquisition of South Mountain State Battlefield without significant additional funding? Where will the additional funding to incorporate, manage, maintain, police and interpret the new area come from?
The Central Maryland Heritage League is concerned that should the park be given to the park service, South Mountain Battlefield will be mothballed because of lack of funding, leaving the story of the battle, which resulted in more than 5,000 casualties, untold. All the state and private funding and untold hours of effort that went into making the park what it is today will also be lost.
Maryland already has two football stadiums. We do not need another new stadium to be built on what is now undeveloped green space in Prince Georges County. Oxon Cove is a green oasis and farm museum in an area already bursting with development. It is a limited resource that should be preserved and enjoyed by citizens.
Leave the Redskins at FedEx Field and South Mountain State Battlefield in the hands of the state, which has managed it well all these years. Let the park service continue to provide a green oasis at Oxon Cove and not add to already thin resources. Gov. Hogan needs to let this one go. The status quo is what is best for all concerned.
The writer is vice president of the Central Maryland Heritage League.