OXON HILL, Md. — A deal to swap 2,500 acres of state parkland in Western Maryland so that Dan Snyder and the Redskins can build a new stadium near National Harbor is growing more controversial by the day.
People who live near the state parkland involved are starting to raise a lot of questions.
“We’re actually mostly Raven’s fans,” laughed Kathleen Rall who lives near Gathland State Park and the adjoining South Mountain State Park, which would be affected by the land swap.
But the questions concerning the swap are serious. Neighboring landowners are concerned about the impact on property and development rights should the National Park Service and the federal government take over the state land as proposed.
Hunters and sportsmen stand to lose access to vast areas of state public land for hunting because the National Park Service does not allow hunting on its property.
The deal is contained in a memorandum of understanding document negotiated between Governor Larry Hogan and the US Department of Interior.
Hogan’s plan would be to trade away the 2,500 acres of mountainous woodland in exchange for a parcel of federal land on the banks of the Potomac River near National Harbor as a potential future stadium site for the Redskins and owner Dan Snyder.
The parcel, bordering on the Capital Beltway, is currently operated as Oxon Cove Park by the National Park Service. It includes a modest farm museum.
The 2,500 state acres given in trade would be incorporated into the neighboring Antietam National Battlefield Park.
The state land is dotted with Civil War sites related to the battle of South Mountain, which set the stage for the cataclysmic showdown that occurred a few days later at Antietam.
The state property at Gathland Park also surrounds a tiny parcel with the world’s first monument to war correspondents. The memorial is currently deeded to the National Park Service.
People who live near the state parkland say the swap might be worthy of consideration if it were not primarily for the benefit of a troubled NFL owner and team.
“Dan Snyder should have enough money to buy his own stadium,” said Craig Smith of nearby Burkittsville, Maryland.