Maryland Makes the Buy of the Century

Vol. 8, No. 6
February 10-16, 2000
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Courtesy of the Guv, Deep Creek Is Ours

’Tis pleasant, sure, to see one’s name in print.
—Lord Byron, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers: 1809.

Methinks those words are appropriate for our guv, so much so that one speculates whether press releases, and perhaps his entire press corps headquartered in his office in Annapolis, should be financed by the State Democratic Campaign Committee.

I guess it’s one of the many perks that go with the office, but even the egotist of all contemporary egotists, the Donald whose last name is Trump, would probably be embarrassed to have his name splashed so frequently in press releases originating from his domain. And he pays his publicity pushers, while we as taxpayers foot the bill for the guv’s blatant self-promotion.

The only time the governor yields space to anyone else anywhere near the lead of a news handout from his office is to promote his choice for successor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, our second in command — the wife of a guy who cajoled, intimidated and maybe even threatened Baltimore County road crews to plow the Townsends’ long and private lane in the near blizzard a couple weeks back.

Within the unfolding of that episode of privilege, there is a lesson for all of us private citizens: Have a Kennedy sign painted, and at the fall of the first flake. stick it prominently next to the driveway where road crews can’t miss it. You can sell your snowblower and shovel and contribute the proceeds to wrap up the fight against dumping Baltimore spoils at Site 104.

One Name in Print

But we’re straying from the point here. Let’s get back to the Bard of England and his “’Tis pleasant, sure, to see one’s name in print” observation. Take the beginning of a recent press release from the headquarters at Annapolis as an example:

ANNAPOLIS, MD (January 28, 2000) – Gov. Parris N. Glendening today announced that the State has reached a final agreement with GPU, Inc. for the purchase of Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County …

Get the point?

Hey, purchasing Deep Creek Lake with our tax funds and adding it to the state park system is good news. To have passed on the opportunity would have been as foolish as dumping spoils at Site 104, the prime wintering grounds for rockfish and other species in the upper Bay.

The spin artists in the press office would have us believe via such flowery, self-promoting prose that the governor is a champion of state parks and other state lands for recreational use.

As when the guv decided to take a minuscule tidbit of the billion-dollar-plus surplus — a few million bucks — and send it to the long-neglected state park system, which would be kaput if it weren’t for volunteer labor. In that announcement, there was no mention that parks personnel spend more time patching up their antiquated fleets than those vehicles spend on the road.

Or that the much-heralded few million bucks tossed to parks won’t do much more than repair or replace the worst of the fleet, some buildings and other essential facilities. Volunteers will still be needed. There’ll be no new hires and no expansion of the park system other than the addition of Deep Creek Lake, which was a given. To have lost that forever to development would have been grounds for impeachment.

So now we’re waiting for the spin doctors in the Governor’s Press Office to issue a press release proclaiming the boss as the Great Benefactor of State Parks, via the few million bucks announced earlier in the budget and the $17.6 million to buy the lake and its peripheral grounds. We’ve become accustomed to snow jobs in recent years, especially those involving our natural resources and a department that is so much in the red it survives hand to mouth.

Jewel of a Lake

But the fact remains that you, dear reader, I and, yes, even the governor who preaches Open Spaces are buying Deep Creek Lake to preserve it for the public for all time. It was the buy of the century, even though we can’t do much about the ugly development on the mountainsides outside of the thin ring of land that goes with the lake.

Developers would have loved that whole parcel, but the 3,900-acre sparkling clear, fish-filled mountain reservoir created in 1925 by Youghiogheny Electric Co. will remain ours to use and at a bargain price.
Overall, the sales agreement includes the lake, a safety strip open to the public along the entire 70-mile shoreline and all other property between the lake and adjacent landowners. The total preserved: 5,000 acres.

Otherwise property rights remain the same for those who have built outside the safety strip. That safety strip will provide access to the lake; people can walk it or fish from it. There’s excellent shore fishing for bass, bluegill, pickerel, northern pike, yellow perch, red-eyes, walleyes and catfish.

Boats can be launched at Deep Creek Lake State Park where one of the finest launch facilities, private or public, in the state is located. The lake itself is popular among powerboaters. Powercraft of up to 26 feet are permitted, and pontoon boats can be of up to 30 feet. Houseboats are banned.

Nearby Oakland is headquarters for the Flying Scott brand of sailboats, which are exceptionally popular on the lake. Also on the shores there is the Deep Creek Lake Yacht Club, established in 1937. In winter, the lake offers some of the best ice fishing in the Mid-Atlantic region. In summer, it’s very popular among water skiers and jet skiers.

It is truly a gem and well worth the 200-mile trip for those who seek cool, insect-free outdoor activities in the mountains. Modern and traditional cabins are available, also rental condominiums, motels, fine restaurants and other tourist facilities including a golf course. But the crowning jewel is the lake itself.

What Our Bay Needs

Public access to Deep Creek Lake makes those who use the Bay envious — not that the Bay is lacking in anything other than access. That’s guaranteed at DCL. Closer to home, we have the greatest Bay anywhere — but with public access so limited it translates to virtually none.

Now if the governor wants to do something, he could start funneling some of that surplus revenue to buy property to provide Marylanders with more convenient public access to the Chesapeake, something pretty much ignored since the days of Millard Tawes and Marvin Mandel. His scribes can legitimately put his name all over that press release.

Enough said …

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly