Responding to requests from Calvert County commissioners, Chesapeake Beach Mayor Gerald Donovan has issued for the first time a written proposal that spells out the costs and timetable involved in his plan to trade land with the county.
However, the documents sent by Donovan to Board of Commissioners President Linda L. Kelley (R-Owings) do not commit the town to any particular use of vacant land just north of the existing water park. What will become of that parcel has been a major source of contention in the debate over the land swap.
Donovan and county officials have been playing tug of war over Kellam field, a three-acre parcel of county land in the heart of Chesapeake Beach's recreational district, next to the town's $2.3 million water park off Route 261. Under Donovan's proposal, the field facilities would relocate just east of the current site, with the town picking up the tab for a new ballpark with $170,000 in lights, a $5,000 electronic scoreboard, $10,000 bleachers and other improvements costing a grand total of $595,000. The mayor's plan envisions all the work would be completed by December 2000.
The proposal is predicated on a land swap in which the county would exchange a parcel just east of the existing Kellam field for a parcel of similar size on the west side. Such a deal would leave Chesapeake Beach in control of a 60,000-square-foot plot of undeveloped land next to the water park for "a recreation activity which will be determined by the town at a future date when a use is selected and funds become available," according to Donovan's proposal.
To some commissioners and many homeowners, however, that future decision leaves open the possible expansion of the popular water park--a move they oppose because they fear it would increase traffic, congestion and noise in the area.
Last week, commissioners almost nixed the deal altogether by voting to accept bids for ballpark lighting at Kellam field, but decided at the last minute to reconsider the land swap, provided Donovan put the specifics on paper.
All but one of the Calvert County commissioners, who did not meet on Tuesday because of the Labor Day holiday, could not be reached for comment. Commissioner John Douglas Parran (At Large), an independent, said he is "keeping an open mind" about the land swap until an upcoming public hearing on the issue.
Parran said it's important to remember that the mayor hasn't announced that expansion of the water park is inevitable. The commissioner said he's heard talk of either "expanding the park or building an indoor pool or skating rink" on the 60,000-square-foot parcel.