This blog was written by Kevin Doyle, Senior Advisor to the Director, Office of Environmental Sustainability. He joined OES for 6 months to work on the PVHG project. Thanks Kevin!
Approximately 10 years ago I was President of the Greater Elkridge Community Association (GECA). A group called the Friends of the Patapsco Heritage Greenway came to us with a fully developed plan for something called the Patapsco Valley Heritage Greenway Area (PVHG), asking for our support for the project. We understood that the development of the plan was an open process, but quite frankly, we were surprised that this plan had been developed to such a degree without asking for our input. GECA never took a formal vote on the issue as it faded away before we had time to do our homework. It was always my feeling that the project had merit, but, that communities surrounding the heritage area needed to be more formally involved in the development stages. It has always been my view that you should not surprise a community organization, especially with a fully developed plan.
Fast forward 10 years. County Executive Ken Ulman has given his support to revisit the Patapsco Valley Heritage Greenway idea and I am on Executive loan from the Federal Government to Howard County with the lead for this effort. I still feel the same way, that there are significant merits to the project but that a fully transparent, fully participative, thoughtful process needs to happen to examine the pros and cons as well as how the PVHG would be configured and governed. Once certified as a Heritage Area, there would be loans, grants and tax credits available from the State of Maryland for property owners, non-profits and government agencies within the Heritage Area or Target Investment Zone. However, I do think that the development of the governance piece of the proposal is key. Who has oversight for approval of projects and spending related to the PVHG is important in providing long-range stability and reasonability to the process.
The team will have representatives from Howard County Office of Environmental Sustainability, Howard County Conservancy, Howard County Sustainability Board, Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, Howard County Tourism, Maryland Historic Trust, The Friends of the Patapsco Heritage Greenway and the communities of Elkridge and Ellicott City.
All initial discussions and planning will be preliminary in nature as we are waiting for the Baltimore County Executive to weigh in on whether he supports formal certification of the PVHG. If he does provide his support, community representatives from our neighbors in Baltimore County will be added. The authorizing legislation for the Heritage Area concept requires all political entities involved in the Heritage Area to be in support. Therefore, the certification process cannot proceed without the support of both County Executives.Kevin Doyle March 2011