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Politics

Anne Arundel County projects receive more than $13 million in funding from federal omnibus bill

Anne Arundel County will receive more than $13 million for various improvement projects in the federal omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last week.

While most of the funding will go to larger county projects, such as stormwater management and purchasing electric vehicles, $500,000 is earmarked to upgrade the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland Camp Woodlands site on Riva Road in Annapolis.

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It’s a project the Girl Scouts persuaded Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen to support, after getting positive feedback from the county.

“It’s feeling its age right now,” said Violet Apple, the organization’s CEO. “In Girl Scouts, camping is an amazing way for us to retain girls. A lot of girls stay because of the camping experience.”

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Renovating the roughly 35-acre campgrounds will cost at least $10 million, Apple said. Improvements will include installing new plumbing and electrical infrastructure, building new cabins and updating old facilities to be more accessible.

“Being outdoors and just breathing in fresh air and learning about nature and stewardship of the land is a great way to help build solid mental health and, not only that, but girls can go to camp and they learn about risk-taking,” Apple said. “They learn about all these things that they think they maybe couldn’t do.”

The camp offers a ropes course, canoeing, kayaking and other outdoor programs. Apple estimates the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland serves about 11,000 girls from kindergarten through 12th grade and about 6,000 adults.

“For generations, young Marylanders have enjoyed Girl Scouts Camp Woodlands in Annapolis. We want to ensure that generations to come can do the same,” Van Hollen said.

The organization is hoping to get much of the rest of the upgrade funding from selling Camp Ilchester in Ellicott City, a sale that was announced last year. Howard County said in December it was making a $6 million offer to buy the property.

“We remain committed to protecting this green space for our residents to enjoy for many years, and we look forward to working with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland to make this a reality,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said. “Howard County’s offer for Camp Ilchester is still under consideration, based on our most recent communications with the Girl Scouts.”

Apple says Camp Ilchester is “just on the market at this point.”

In addition to the sale of the Howard County property, the organization is trying to raise additional funds to support the Camp Woodlands upgrades.

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Other Anne Arundel County projects that received federal funding in the omnibus bill ranged from $5 million for electric vehicles and charging stations for the county to $300,000 for improvements at City Dock. It’s a wide-ranging list, but one the county considered very carefully, said County Executive Steuart Pittman.

“We internally had conversations among my staff and some of our departments about not only what is needed, because there are lots more needs than these, but also things that we thought would be viewed favorably in Congress and not be controversial and be most likely to get funded,” Pittman said.

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U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, a Prince George’s County Democrat, secured $5 million to go toward Anne Arundel County’s goal of having all-electric public transit and light- and medium-duty vehicles by 2037. The money can be used for the vehicles and charging stations.

Brown also earmarked $3 million to help with the creation of a new $16 million community center in Brooklyn Park — the area in the county with the highest levels of poverty, substance abuse and parental incarceration, Pittman said.

“When we brought residents of Brooklyn Park together they said that their number one priority was to create a rec center, community center, particularly for young people,” Pittman said, “I can’t tell you how thrilled I am about this.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, secured $2 million to contribute to a $10 million upgrade to the stormwater management system in the Patapsco River watershed and another $2 million to help maintain a property near Carr’s Beach that the city of Annapolis will purchase.

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Smaller ticket items included $500,000 to expand Youth Works — a paid summer work experience program coordinated by the county for 16- to 24-year-olds run by the county’s Workforce Development Corporation.

The $13 million disbursement to Anne Arundel County is part of the more than $104 million in federal money Maryland will receive in the $1.5 trillion package.

Baltimore Sun Media reporter Katie V. Jones contributed to this article.


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