Making a $5.8 Million Public Point'
The plot's been thickening for a decade in the story of Franklin Point. Would the Shady Side peninsula's last and largest wetland be developed as Baldwin's Choice? Would over 150 new top-of-the-line homes rise on 477 wild, wet and open acres? Would traffic overwhelm the single road into the swampy peninsula? Would citizens rebel? Or would the bulldozers turn back, saving Franklin Point as open space - with a multi-million dollar view - for all Maryland?
The story ended happily, if expensively, this week as the state of Maryland wrote a check for $5.8 million to Franklin Point's owner and would-be developer, Pointe Properties, representing Dominic Antonelli.
"We're thrilled. It's a huge victory," said Amanda Spake, spokeswoman for South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development, the grass-roots coalition of citizens that stopped the bulldozers.
In the victory, SACReD organizer Michael Shay saw both an end and a beginning. "It marks the end of the region's most memorable struggle for environmental justice and guarantees the empowerment of local citizens in direct action because victory came from hard work and perseverance in a just cause," Shay said.
Promises had been made months earlier, beginning a year ago at the annual Democratic Jefferson Jackson Dinner at Herrington Harbour, when the governor first expressed interest in preserving the property. Anne Arundel County Executive John Gary made the first $3 million pledge last summer and campaigning Gov. Parris Glendening signed on for another $3 million in October. The signing price was $5.725 million.
When the money would follow, nobody knew. The plot seemed to curdle slightly late last year when the county's new executive, Janet Owens, found money scarcer than she had imagined. She stood firm on the pledge but put no money where her mouth was.
Now, out of the blue, the deal's done and Franklin Point is bought and paid for.
"Everybody seems to have gotten what they wanted out of it. The property will stay in its natural state and I can go out and buy another piece of property," said Antonelli.
Behind the scenes, the state was working urgently to close on Franklin Point. That, according to Dave Humphrey, spokesman for the Maryland Department of General Services, is because "the state was paying $900 a day in interest until the deal closed Feb. 22."
The money was drawn from Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Open Space Program, which has preserved 140,000 acres statewide for open space and recreation.
Anne Arundel County, which is expected to repay the state, won't have that kind of interest stick over its head.
"They're not going anywhere," Humphrey said.
The story "couldn't have turned out better," said Joe Browder, of Fairhaven, the environmental consultant who brokered the deal.
Happy Campers Plan Their Park Vacations Now, Toll-Free
Winter's wiles have you pawing at the panes? Do your spirits dip with the mercury at every cold snap? Do you daydream of warm-weather camping, fishing, hiking and other recreating under a golden Maryland sun? If so, Department of Natural Resources just may have your number: 888/432-camp (2267).
Starting this season, sufferers of spring fever can ease their woes by calling the Department of Natural Resources' new toll-free number to book reservations for campsites, picnic shelters and the whole array of park resources at any of Maryland's 47 state forests and parks. In the past, you had to contact individual parks to reserve camp sites and pavilions. Now, with a new centralized reservation service managed by contractor Integrated Systems, Inc., one call can secure a spot - or spots - for vacations, weekend outings or family reunions.
"We're the first state to use this service statewide," reports Susan O'Brien of the Department of Natural Resources. "Real live human beings take your calls and answer questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Aren't sure which Maryland park best fits your vacation dream? No problem, assures O'Brien. Reservation agents can help you select among the state's 1,800 campsites, 50 cabins and 100 pavilions and picnic shelters. If your ideal spot's taken, agents will search nearby parks for similar sites. You can book reservations up to a year in advance, but you must reserve sites for at least two days on weekends and three days on holiday weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day. All camping fees - including an $8 charge for the one-stop reservation service - are paid in advance by credit card.
Prices of overnight accommodations vary according to location, season, day of the week as well as your tolerance for roughing it. For $5 a night, you can get a rudimentary campsite: nothing but a patch of ground to plant your tent. For $40 a night, you can sleep in a cozy cabin with beds, table and chairs. Seniors 62 and up get half-price discounts on reservations for Sunday through Thursday.
Get detailed descriptions of park facilities, including free brochures and maps, from the State Forest and Park Service at 800/830-3974 or on-line at Department of Natural Resources' web site: www.dnr.state.md.us.
If you're thinking of a weekend outdoors in Chesapeake Country, consider these Bay-area state parks:
On-line reservations will be available in a few weeks at www.md.campnow.com, according to O'Brien. But you'd better not wait, if the deluge of calls for reservations so far is any indication of demand. On opening day, the reservation line got 4,700 calls for Maryland parks. The service is designed to handle 100 calls per hour, but O'Brien cautions that callers may have to wait on hold a while to reserve their place in the sun, shade, strand or stream.
Planning to Save Calvert's Heritage
photos by Carol Glover Calvert County new and old.
Prince Frederick, Town Center 1724.
The stately Williamsburg brick sign welcomes drivers to Calvert County's largest town and county seat. On this gridlocked thoroughfare - the only major highway in the county - traffic crawls at a snail's pace. Flanked by new construction and studded with traffic lights at every corner, Route 2-4 is a far cry from the Calvert County of old.
Calvert's colonial legacy - its rural landscapes, old barns, churches and waterfront communities - are hidden away on back roads. Development encroaches on old structures, Native American village sites and old country roads. "Structures burn, rot, wash away and people die with their memories," Calvert's historic preservation specialist Kirsti Uunila warns.
This is where Heritage 2003 comes in. Drafted by JAM/Watson Heritage Development Consultants and funded with a $15,000 grant from the National Park Service through the Maryland Historical Trust, the document is a plan for preservation. It's a companion to the 1997 Calvert Comprehensive Plan that mandates us to "sustain the identity of this special place where past and present, land and water are woven together."
The Calvert County Historic District Committee, whose seven volunteer members are appointed by the Calvert County Commissioners, have invited public comment throughout the plan's development. The public saw the early plan in April, 1997. In November, 1998, a draft for review was sent to 30 partners, among them the Calvert County Economic Development Commission, the African-American Heritage Project Committee, The Academy of Natural Sciences and the Town of North Beach.
Last week, four dozen interested Calvert Countians crowded into a basement meeting room at the Calvert County Library to hear the latest about "Heritage 2003: A Five-Year Action Plan for Preserving the Historic Rural Character, Early Structures, Cultural Landscapes, and Archaeological Sites of Calvert County, Maryland."
What they learned was that if they wanted Calvert County preserved, they'd have to do it themselves. The 41-page plan is as full of suggested activities as a high-school text book. Among them:
A cultural landscape study to inventory visible structures such as barns, historic homes, churches, schools and outbuildings. "All over, there are places I've seen all over that no one else knows," said John Ferguson, a surveyor in the County for many years.
County-wide meetings to celebrate and discuss the county's rural character. In one such gathering, residents reminisced about the good old days at "The Golden Age of Beaches" in North Beach on February 23.
A voluntary registry of natural and cultural heritage sites. Many homeowners fear the regulations of an Historic District but would accept a certificate acknowledging the historic value of their property. "They would be part of our database and invited to attend meetings on renovation and receive helpful information," according to rural planner Jenny Plummer.
An inventory of historic/scenic roads and plan for their protection. This one's well underway. With the inventory complete, protection is the next step.
The Main Street concept in more Calvert towns. This would help business owners in the historic parts of the towns to occupy and maintain old buildings - as is done in the shops, restaurants and law offices on Main Street in Prince Frederick.
Heritage 2003 is now on the fast track. Read it and make written comments by March 2.
The plan goes next to the Planning Commission, and to the County Commissioners in April. Next year the plan's progress and continuing strategies will be brought back to the public during a county-wide meeting.
Throughout the February meeting, familiar faces and knowing voices entered into the discussion. Decidedly lacking were newcomers to the county. If this plan is to succeed, the new taxpayers of this fastest growing county must appreciate its heritage and want to preserve it. The question is how to get them involved.
Get the plan from Jenny Plummer: 410/535-1600 x 333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Send your comments to Joseph Showalter, Chair; Historic District Commission; 175 Main Street; Prince Frederick, MD 20678.
Rock in the Rough? This Prize-Winning Rockfish Is a Diamond
Rockfish recipe winner Don Young receives his award from Dr. Bud Virts, Secretary of Maryland Dept. of Agriculture.
Of course you know that in Chesapeake country summer means spicy, hot crabs and autumn brings on fresh, cold oysters. But did you know that rockfish is winter's Bayfood?
Winter is prime season for rockfish for the Bay's commercial fishermen. The big stripped bass are not only commercially important, they're also our official state fish.
"We want people to enjoy rockfish and prepare it at home," says Noreen Eberly, dietitian for the Seafood Marketing Program. To publicize the harvest and stimulate appetites for rockfish the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Seafood Marketing Program and the Maryland Watermen's Association held the Second Annual Maryland Rockfish Celebration Cooking Contest.
More than 50 amateur and professional cooks from as far away as New Jersey entered their favorite striped bass recipes in hopes of reeling in top honors. Judges chose 10 keepers. Those 10 finalists prepared their recipes for five judges during the East Coast Commercial Fishermen's Expo last month in Ocean City.
Contest organizers supplied two one-pound rockfish filets and electricity. Contestants brought along everything else, including recipe ingredients, pots and pans, burners and serving dishes.
Eberly sat in with the judges and tasted all the dishes. "They all tasted so good, I don't know how the judges chose," she exclaimed, after tasting recipes ranging from Dee Van Nest's Hidden Rock Chowder to Pearl Ward's Baked Maryland Rockfish with Tea and Lemon Sauce with Champagne.
At the end of the day, Don Young of Chester, Md. emerged on top with Rock in the Rough. His grilled rockfish was topped with roasted red pepper cream sauce and served with mango, cucumber, kiwi relish and crisp of leek. Young says it felt "pretty good" to beat out five professionals and four amateurs for the best rockfish recipe and $500 first prize.
No stranger to the kitchen, Young learned how to cook in the Navy, then picked up some more tips working at the Tilghman Island Inn in 1996. But he'd never before entered a cooking contest when he won second place honors at last year's Rockfish Celebration with his grilled rockfish with citrus salsa.
When Young isn't cooking fabulous six-course meals for his family and friends, he works as a water and wastewater consultant and dreams of opening his own restaurant.
He'll be back in 2000 to defend his title. "So I'm not going to give away any of my secrets for next year," says Young.
You can, however, try for yourself Young's 1999 first-prize winner.
Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce
Grill peppers on all sides until skin is black. Place in bowl and cover w/foil. Let sit 10 minutes. Then skin, seed and cut into quarters. Grill onion 3&SHY;4 minutes per side. Process peppers, onion and all spices until very fine. Slowly add olive oil and blend until smooth. Simmer until ready to serve; then add cream and salt and pepper to taste.
Mango, Cucumber, Kiwi Relish
Process all ingredients in food processor to consistency of relish. Chill.
Crisp of Leek
Cut in half, wash and dry. Cut into 3" strips. Fry in hot oil for 15-30 seconds or until crisp. Remove to bowl with paper towel to soak up oil. Keep warm but do not cover.
From 2 lbs. Maryland rockfish fillets, remove skin and bloodline. Brush fish with 2 T olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper. Grill on oiled surface 3-4 minutes per side.
Put cream sauce in the center of a large, round plate; swirl out to sides. Center fish on sauce, spoon relish on sides of plate. Top with crisp of leek. Garnish entire plate with minced parsley and Old Bay.
Could You Have Written This?
If you can write and know of community and local events or stories of Bay interest and if you want to try your hand at writing for Dock of the Bay, call editor Sandra Martin at 410/867-0304, Thursdays or Fridays only.
Way Downstream ...
Over on the Eastern Shore in Vienna, Maryland authorities are contemplating burning chicken manure both to generate power and to help reduce water pollution on the Delmarva peninsula. A similar manure-to-energy project in England was first brought to the attention of state officials by New Bay Times nearly a year ago ...
In Pennsylvania, a new report warns us that there's more than driftwood and garbage building up behind Susquehanna River dams ready to flow into the Chesapeake Bay. The U.S. Geological Survey, a respected scientific research arm, estimates that there are 3.1 million tons of sand, coal and chemicals built up behind the dams. "Eventually, it will affect the entire Bay, all the way down to Virginia. The sediment will kill everything," said Mike Langland, a government hydrologist ...
In Virginia, the Episcopalians are turning into environmentalists. At their annual council last week, the Southwestern Virginia Episcopalians voted to demand a moratorium on the removal of mountain tops by coal companies stripping away rich seams of the black gold ...
Maine's top salmon expert warned this week that catch-and-release isn't working. Ed Baum said things have grown so dire that he recommends a complete ban on salmon fishing until the species recovers ...
Our Creature Feature comes to us from Hawaii, and although it sounds like a B-movie, it's not. The Invasion of the Alien Tree Frogs is disturbing the tranquillity of at least two islands, Maui and the Big Island and, authorities say, threatening forests. A task force set up last week said it needs $300,000 immediately from the state legislature or things may get worse.
Last we checked, the Big Island's Department of Land and Natural Resources was trying to figure out which chemicals could be used on the frogs so as not to kill too many other Hawaiian creatures.