On the Calvert County Planning Commission’s recommendation, the Calvert County commissioners quickly approved the county’s Program Open Space annual program for fiscal 2020 on June 25.
“The annual program plan is basically the kitchen sink of all projects that could be completed within the county,” Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Nazzal said during a June 19 planning board meeting.
The county is required to prepare and submit the land preservation and recreation plan to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of Planning each year before July 1 in order to remain eligible for state funding for the acquisition and development of recreational land.
“What gets done this year or gets done next year?” planning commission Chair Greg Kernan asked.
Nazzal said there are items that are funded through the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, money allocated for the purchase and maintenance of facilities, and the acquisition of land.
She explained that any projects that are in the CIP are going to occur this year and for the next five years. She said there are other projects in the plan that are not currently funded.
Nazzal explained to The Calvert Recorder that not all projects are funded and not all projects are utilizing Program Open Space funding.
Of the items that will be using POS funds in the upcoming year, $25,000 will be used to fund a portion of the Land Preservation, Parks and Recreation Plan for FY 2020. The LPPRP establishes goals for conservation and recreation over a five-year period. Last year, the BOCC and planning commission held a joint public hearing to adopt the county’s LPPRP.
In the FY19 plan, there were 28 acquisition projects and 34 development projects in the program. Nearly 55 projects were carried over from prior years. Nazzal said some projects were completed or removed because they were completed or adjusted. Of this year’s acquisition projects, one is budgeted, and 18 are unfunded. Of the development projects, 13 are budgeted, and 22 are unfunded.
“It’s the same program,” Nazzal said, adding there are no changes to the projects from last year.
Carried over onto this year’s list for Calvert County is the Old Bayside Road Trail. The acquisition and development of the trail will connect Beach Elementary School and a residential area to the Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail and the center of Chesapeake Beach.
There is also the development of the Main Street Green Space in Prince Frederick, which will turn the existing Main Street roadway into a green area with a sidewalk once Route 765 is relocated.
In southern Calvert, the program includes the development, expansion, and improvement of Solomons Town Center.
Calvert County submits projects on behalf of Chesapeake Beach and the Town of North Beach, seven acquisition and eight development projects in total for the Twin Beaches. Chesapeake Beach is carrying over two acquisition requests and four development requests from last year to include the acquisition and development of Chesapeake Beach Railroad right of way, a trail system to connect town center to extended greenways.
Last year, the Town of North Beach had five acquisition requests and four development requests for FY19, all carried over from prior years.
“We have made no changes to our Program Open Space Program for FY 2020,” Town Treasurer Joanne Hunt confirmed with The Calvert Recorder. On North Beach’s list is the acquisition of North Beach Community Garden to promote outdoor recreation and to provide healthy food. After adopting the Program Open Space and project descriptions, the BOCC authorized staff to submit the approved program plan to the DNR and MDP.
The state determines the amount of funding for the projects based upon a formula developed for the apportionment of the annual appropriations for Program Open Space.
When a house or land is purchase, the state collects 0.5% property transfer tax to fund the program. The goal was to directly tie development to available funding for open space and recreational facilities for public benefit. Statewide the program’s effort has resulted in the acquisition of more than 334,000 acres of open space for state parks and natural resource areas, and more than 46,000 acres of local park land.
Locally, Program Open Space funding has been used to correct a sewage problem at Breezy Point Beach Park and Campground, as well as add charcoal grills, picnic tables and playground equipment, construct a beach bathhouse, provide ADA access to the beach, and make jetty repairs and replace a pier, according to county documents.
Future projects for Breezy point include protective breakwaters and beach restoration and the replacement of the sea wall in the campground.
The county’s POS program must be deemed compatible with the county’s current comprehensive plan and the LPPRP. The planning commission deemed this year’s plan compatible with the comprehensive plan. The same plan was deemed compatible with the LPPRP last year.
For more information or to see a detailed list of projects, go to www.co.cal.md.us/DocumentCenter/View/26585/June-meeting---POS-FY-2020-Annual-Program?bidId=.