Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Leaving Well Enough Alone

The Baltimore Sun reports that the property formerly known as the Horizon Organic Dairy Farm in Gambrills has become one of the County's newest hot potatoes. Some one, or group of people, has gotten it into their collective heads that the 857-acre farm, owned by the Naval Academy, would be a great place for a "5,000-seat arena and an outdoor amphitheater for horse shows, along with an equestrian museum and trails for recreational riding." I've heard worse ideas, like turning the incredibly valuable organic farm into tract housing, but not many. Last I heard, the horse industry in Maryland was in dire straits due to the inability of facility owners to bring slot machine gambling to Maryland. The answer to this crisis is to add another state-sponsored horse park? Who comes up with these schemes?

If the State has a burning desire to hand out money to the horse industry, doesn't it make sense to try to work with existing facilities to try to see how they might modify their business plans (sans slots) to bring more people out to the tracks? A smart first step might be to clean up their image a bit, so that rather than being seen as seedy havens for the down-and-out, they begin to attract a wider segment of society, perhaps, one day evening being viewed as good, clean fun for families.

Thankfully, Executive Owens seems to be reluctant to endorse the plan, saying, "I strongly suspect that the issue of whether a horse park is an appropriate use of the farm is one that has yet to be vetted at all necessary levels of the federal bureaucracy." Though, she has said she likes the horse park "concept." Indeed, let's hope it stays a good idea.

The farm is currently being leased by Sunrise Farm LLC. The Sunrise's co-owner, Marian Fry was quoted as saying, "This county needs regional pockets of viable agriculture. This is a vital oasis in the middle of highly developed land." I couldn't agree more.



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