Volume 12, Issue 20 ~ May 13-19, 2004
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Dock of the Bay

Turning the Page on Parole Plaza
Greenberg Corp. finalizes deal

It’s a done deal. Greenberg Commercial Corp. last week finalized its purchase of Parole Plaza.

“We’re working very hard on plans for that site,” said Greenberg’s Brian Gibbons, who kept alive hope that the long-neglected site’s new owner will work with the community to realize a people-friendly plan. “We have a design team in place, but we are certainly open to listening to a broad range of community views. We hope to come out of the box with something the community can take pride in.”

Though invited, no one from Greenberg attended last week’s forum on Parole Plaza [“Battling for Parole,” Vol. XII, No. 18: April 29]. The meeting of interested politicians, planners and activists heard their guest visionary confirm their own estimation of the Parole area. “This is really bad,” said Fred Kent, an expert in place-making. “There’s more asphalt here than I’ve seen anywhere. Human beings are the lowest priority.”

Chief among the activists’ anxieties was the specter of an earlier proposal to anchor Parole Plaza with a Walmart and another huge parking lot.

The activists hope for a community-centered core for greater Parole, an area that includes Anne Arundel Medical Park, Westfield Shoppingtown (Annapolis Mall), Jennifer Square, Annapolis Plaza, Forest Plaza, Annapolis Harbour Center and Festival at Riva.

Greenberg’s Parole plan has not been finalized, but Gibbons says that it is in keeping with the Parole Urban Concept Plan approved by Anne Arundel County Council.

The concept is a residential village center with a commercial plaza modeled after Greenberg’s Village at Waugh Chapel in Gambrills, which is twice the size of Parole Plaza. Another Greenberg village might be in works for Edgewater, where Greenberg owns development rights to the triangle between Route 214 and Pine Ridge Road, anchored by Edgewater Liquors.

Parole activists say that communities work best with a focal point that ties into at least 10 spots in the vicinity. The connections can be as simple as pleasant walkways or outdoor seating.

The Parole community is hoping for a lot from Greenberg. The people are hoping for something out of the box that will bring a sense of community pride.

—Sonia Linebaugh

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Ask the Plant & Pest Professor
Who’s been plowing my yard?

Q I have a small pond that has a terrible problem with green slimy algae. My fish can’t keep up with the growth. The pond gets full sun. What controls algae and doesn’t hurt fish?

A Algae thrives on nutrients and sunlight. Your fish actually add to your algae problem because their feces raise nutrient levels in the water. To reduce algae, reduce nutrients and light. Limit your fish population and feed them less. Add plant material to use up nutrients and shade the pond. Water surface should be 60 to 70 percent shaded with floating plants such as water lilies. Submerged plants, such as ancharis, should be added one bunch per four to five square feet of surface to absorb nutrients. Bio-filters also help keep water free of dissolved organic waste.

Ask the Plant and Pest Professor is compiled from questions sent to the website of the Home and Garden Information Center, part of Maryland Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland. Ask a home gardening or pest control question and find other help: 800-342-2507 (Mon.-Fri. 8am-1pm) • www.hgic.umd.edu.

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Hunt a Bear, Paint a Bear
This year, you’ve got your choice

All a bear wants to do this time of year is eat a good meal. But Maryland’s big black bears can’t get people to leave them alone.

Not only do people want to hunt them, the two-legged pests also want to paint them in habitat.

That’s because the Black Bear Conservation Stamp, left for dead in 2003, is back in 2004.

The stamp was written off by the Maryland Black Bear Task Force because it couldn’t keep up with the job it was created to do: reimburse farmers for hungry bear damage. The Task Force recommended that DNR “discontinue the sale of Black Bear Conservation Stamps as a revenue-generating program.”

Stamp art was adopted in 1996 to copy what federal and state duck stamps did so successfully: bring in money to preserve the resource. With wildlife artists portraying the bears realistically and artfully, collectors were supposed to buy up the art stamps.

But revenues from the $5 stamp have never covered more than 70 percent of the damages filed by farmers. In 2001, the stamp program paid out $21,833, more than it ever had before, covering only 60 percent of the $36,389 in claims.

So, the task force said “the present investment in the program, is greater than the revenue generated.”

To make up the deficit, DNR created an alternative: a limited bear hunt to begin in the fall of 2004. The hunt, the task force said, would keep bear population and damages down while raising money from hunting licenses.

Meanwhile, in March, another alternative was put on the table. Two animal rights agencies, the Humane Society and the Fund for Animals, offered $75,000 to help reimburse farmers — if the bear hunt was canceled.

That offer stills stand, but DNR has refused the condition.

Now, apparently both hunt and stamp are on for 2004.

“We recognize that the stamp program is not efficient,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Heather Lynch. “But we can’t dissolve it until the law is changed.”

So artists get one more chance to win Maryland’s Black Bear Conservation Stamp Design Contest. If DNR then cancels the program, this year’s winner will have the added bonus of having their work become the last official Maryland Bear Stamo and perhaps a collector’s item.

The winner from 2003 was Pennsylvania artist Steve Oliver, whose painting of a black bear foraging in the wilderness — not in a farmer’s field — won top honors.

For Bear Stamp entry information: DNR, www.dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife.

—Louis Llovio

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Artists Bring a Piece of Wye Oak Back to Life
State offers pieces of the Quiet Giant

The Wye Oak stood proud as Maryland’s state tree for more than 450 years before succumbing to the ravages of nature in June of 2002. Now its salvaged remains lie scattered, exposed to the elements.

But the great symbol is about to return to its rightful place, the heart of Marylanders.

On Saturday, May 15, artists can claim salvaged portions of the Wye, which at the time it fell measured over 31 feet around, stood 96 feet tall, spread at the crown 119 feet and weighed more than 61,000 pounds. Maryland Department of Natural Resources along with Maryland State Arts Council is sponsoring the giveaway.

“The goal of this project,” says Theresa Colvin of the Maryland Arts Council, “is for Marylanders to have a chance to preserve the legacy of the tree and to have a piece of history.”

It might not be that simple, though.

Artists — who must sign a waiver stating they will complete artwork within one year and be willing to provide pictures and the work for future exhibits — are not so sure what they will get.

“I won’t know what I have to work with until I get there,” says woodcarver Earl Brinton of Severn, who specializes in hand-carved shore birds.

That’s a worry some resource managers share.

“I’m concerned that artists are going to flock to the nursery expecting to see giant pieces of fine oak wood, says Dan Rider of DNR’s Forest Service. “That won’t be the case.”

What’s left of the proud tree are mostly small pieces, two to three inches in diameter and four to five feet in length that have been unprotected for the two years.

To make matters worse, adds Rider, the Wye was already in an “advanced state of decay.”

But artists like Brinton still plan to try to find the diamond in the rough.

“I will try to find pieces that are fairly dry,” he says. “But I won’t realize what I’m dealing with until I start to work with it.”

Briton is worried that some of the outer branches will have the “shakes,” which is what happens to branches that have been exposed to too much wind. Branches are like plywood, and when they’ve been bent too much, they will begin to split when worked on.

This is not the first time, nor the only way, the state reached out to Marylanders with the fallen Wye. Other chunks were repatriated to the tree’s home grounds, Talbot County and Wye Oak State Park. Wye Mills Methodist Church and the Old Wye Parish each received lumber to use for crosses.

In December, dried leaves from the great tree were offered for sale on-line as decorative pins.

Both branches of the Maryland legislature received one piece of lumber to do with as they please. A large chunk of the tree is drying before being crafted as a desk for the governor’s office.

After the artist’s giveaway, the following Saturday, May 22, leftovers are free to all comers.

As for Briton, if all goes well and he finds the right piece, he hopes to carve a great blue heron.

Wye oak is free to artists May 15, 11am-4pm, and all citizens May 22 at the John S. Ayton State Forest Tree Nursery, Preston: 410-673-2467.

—Louis Llovio

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Way Downstream …

In Virginia, the catch of a snakehead by a bass fisherman last week could be cause for concern. That’s because the ferocious invasive species was caught on a tributary of the Potomac River — which flows into Chesapeake Bay…

In Washington, D.C., Pepco announced that electricity rates will jump as much as 50 percent for some of its Maryland customers on July 1. Rates have been frozen for four years under terms of deregulation. Virginia’s rates will stay frozen for another seven years…

In Norway, the whaling season began this week even as the industry is trying to persuade Norwegians to eat more of the threatened mammals. To turn around declining sales, the industry is recommending Chinese whale stir fry, whale with pasta and Mexican tortillas with whale meat. Sounds to us like Norway ought to quit whaling like every other country, except Japan…

Our Creature Feature comes from New York, where Robert Sullivan has written a best-selling book about creatures that most people detest: rats. Wearing infrared night goggles, Sullivan spent a year combing filthy environs researching Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants.

Among his findings: rats’ teeth are so sharp they can gnaw through concrete; their frames collapse so they can squeeze through tiny holes; and they have sex as often as 20 times a day. Wisely, Sullivan didn’t take his work home for closer observation. “I never kept a rat,” he told an interviewer. “I’m married.”

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Last updated May 13, 2004 @ 1:30am.