The Elms Beach Park is another St. Mary’s County park with Bay access. The property is owned by the state and leased to the county. Photo courtesy of St. Mary’s County Recreation and Parks.

Lexington Park, MD — The St. Mary’s County Commissioners Tuesday voted to proceed with acquisition of a 212-acre parcel of land on the Chesapeake Bay south of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. The land, formerly known as Shannon Farm, was originally slated for development. It will now be used for passive recreation.

The $4 million purchase price includes $2 million to be provided by the Department of Navy, $1.8 million from the state, and $200,000 from the county’s Open Space Program fund (that is the county’s portion of recordation fees collected by the state and returned to the county).

The property is currently owned by Best Industries, Inc.

Director of Recreation and Parks Brian Loewe told the commissioners that the sale of the property should take place on or about September 15th and be finalized in 60 to 90 days.

Before unanimously agreeing to execute the budget transfer and project agreement, the commissioners also voted to execute an agreement with the Navy over the use of the land. The Navy is kicking in monies to help protect the base from encroachment.

In response to a question from Commissioner Todd Morgan (R: 4th), Loewe explained that passive recreation includes trails and beach access, but not ball fields.

Commissioner Daniel Morris (R: 2nd) wanted to know if a shooting range could be included. Loewe said that was not part of the permitted uses. Morris has been advocating for the county to create such a range.

Commissioner Lawrence Jarboe (R: 3rd) noted that the small amount of monies required from the county will let them use other Open Space monies for more active recreation. He observed that the county’s cost would be less than $1,000 per acre for the 212-acre property. “There are a lot of benefits here,” the commissioner concluded.

Commissioner Cynthia Jones (R: 1st) observed that passive recreation has “much lower environmental impact.” Loewe said, “Passive recreation was what the Navy and county agreed to.”