Friday, December 02, 2005

Horse Stadium Handouts, Part2

A continuation of yesterday's analysis:

StatementHorse StadiumMcMansionsFarm
Provide a local family-oriented recreational opportunity TrueFalseTrue
Restore all facilities on the property. TrueFalseTrue
Help preserve other farmland around Anne Arundel County and the state of Maryland.A rather odd statement. Destroying 100 acres of farmland will save farmland elsewhere?FalseTrue only in the sense that using the farm as a location to teach farmers how to make farming profitable could help save other farms.
Create increased educational opportunitiesTrueFalseTrue
Reduce the amount of dust production by the facility.I think this is overstated.True?Anne Arundel County has a "right to farm" bill. Some dust is a natural product of farming
Bring attention to the traffic issues in the areaTrue. Thousands of visitors a year to the site would probably do that.TrueThe existing and proposed use would bring relatively little traffic to the site.
Keep the property agricultural in nature in accordance with the federal lawTrue?FalseTrue.
Honor and protect the Naval Academy Dairy Farm and the Hammond Manor Estate.True.FalseTrue.
Have 24-hour security for the historic structures and for Bill, the Goat.True.FalseTrue.
Increase property value of surrounding homeowners.If you were buying a home, would you rather be next to an organic farm or a horse stadium?FalseIf you were buying a home, would you rather be next to an organic farm or a horse stadium?

So, clearly on all of these grounds, except perhaps the generation of tax revenue (which would almost certainly be offset by increased infrastructure and service costs), the McMansions are the least desireable option. Of the other two, on today's "facts", they match up pretty similarly, with the notable exception being that the stadium will generate far more traffic (and the farm, perhaps, a bit more dust). Regarding value to surrounding homeowners, I would much prefer the farm to a stadium, but that's just me.

Going back to yesterday's items, much of the environmental criticism of the farm levied by stadium proponents seems to center around "waste" generation. As I mentioned in the piece, one of the key features of organic farms (and farms generally), is that they re-use their "waste" (e.g., vegetable matter, yard waste, manure) to fertilize their crops. This method of fertilization, as opposed to the application of synthetic fertilizers, allows for a much more gradual (and environmentally benign) release of nitrogen into the soil. Would the proponents of the horse stadium rather that material (and the real waste generated by thousands of cola-guzzling patrons at the steeplechase) go into a landfill somewhere?

The final difference seems to come down to what sort of economic revenue generation each will produce. I will concede, keeping the land an organic farm isn't likely to generate millions for the County, and that to add an agricultural incubator could cost a couple hundred thousand dollars. However, given that it would serve as both a public education center, a small-business incubator, and potentially, a provider of healthy foods to the school system, it's probably a break even enterprise in the end. The horse stadium would require an up-front investment of around $100 million, several million dollars in annual operating expenses, and based on the experience of other similar operations, pricey government subsidies on an annual basis.

The choice seems fairly clear.



Post a Comment

<< Home