Anne Arundel County will invest $8 million in upgrades at Fort Smallwood Park in Pasadena will receive, including transforming the barracks into a visitor’s center, a concession building, trail expansion and a new maintenance facility.
County Executive Steve Schuh announced the upgrades Monday, although the project was approved in the current budget. The $8 million is part of the county’s JumpStart Anne Arundel capital project, which allowed for 30-year bond financing compared to the county’s original 20-year plans. Officials argued it allowed the county to borrow more money overall while maintaining debt service payments. The program has allowed for school, public safety and road construction projects.
“This investment will continue to improve the experience for our citizens who enjoy the majesty of Fort Smallwood Park,” Schuh said in a statement released by his office. “These improvements to Fort Smallwood will ensure it remains a destination for our citizens for generations to come.”
Anne Arundel County has leased Fort Smallwood from Baltimore City since 2005, paying $1 a year. It’s a 45-year lease with the option to renew the agreement in 30-year increments.
County spokesman Owen McEvoy said the county was confident the deal would continue in perpetuity and there are no concerns about redeveloping property the county doesn’t own. Language in the land’s original deed prevents the city from selling the land to the county, county officials said.
This is a different tactic than the county took when redeveloping the Eisenhower Golf Course. County officials told the Annapolis City Council, which owned the property, that it wouldn’t invest millions in repairs unless it owned the land. There was some controversy surrounding this decision, as the agreement between the city and county required the county maintain the property, which fell into disrepair over time.
The city eventually sold the property for $3.1 million.
Improvements to Fort Smallwood Park will take place over the next four years. And they aren’t the first for the park. Last year the county opened a $4.9 million boat ramp project. It was the county’s first public boat ramp.
The park also was in the news last year after Schuh opened it up for public swimming. There are few places in the county that allow for public swimming and is done so at the swimmer’s risk.
Schuh also opened up more swimming days at Mayo Beach, which aggravated nearby residents. They were concerned more traffic to the beach would clog up and put more stress on residential roads. More than 1,000 signatures on a petition were submitted to Schuh to stop development along the Mayo Peninsula and Beverly Triton Beach Park in favor of infrastructure improvements to Route 214.
The money is the latest invested in Pasadena parks.
Energy company Exelon Corp. has agreed to pay Anne Arundel County $1.2 million as part of its sale of Brandon Woods Park in Glen Burnie to Chesapeake Real Estate Group. That money will be used to construct two turf fields at Tick Neck Park, which is about four miles away. Total construction of the fields will total about $2 million, with county and state money making up the difference. The county is paying about $520,000 in bonds and cash along with a $200,000 state bond bill.