State wants to buy historic Frederick County site for parkland -- Gazette.Net


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Maryland is trying to acquire an historic property in the Catoctin Mountains in Frederick County with the help of a federal grant, according to state officials.

Lisa Ward, director of land acquisition and planning with the Maryland Department of the Environment, said in an interview that the state is in the early stages of trying to acquire a portion of the property known as Trout Run, with help from the National Park Service.

The state had to choose a project “to encumber” a $950,000 grant from the park service before its availability ran out, Ward said. The state will have to match the federal Land and Water Conservation grant.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a partnership program that provides matching funds to states and local communities for acquisition, development, and conservation of parks and open space. Maryland will be contributing $1 million for a total cost of $1,950,000 for the project.

Trout Run, a 453-acre property in the Catoctin Mountains near the presidential retreat, Camp David, initially was listed for sale in 2003 for $20 million. The property was relisted later, but the price dropped to $8.9 million because some of the land would not percolate and therefore cannot be developed, according to real estate agent Bill Sawyer.

The owner of Trout Run, Howard Haugerud, said in an email that his family is considering the sale of some “surplus land — not the main complex.”

The main complex includes five separate buildings and has historical significance as a former presidential fishing retreat. The land boasts a 2-mile trout stream that attracted presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter.

The federal grant prohibits the state from purchasing the improved property, which would include the main complex, Ward said.

Maryland's U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin distributed a news release earlier this month through the National Park Service announcing the federal grant to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The land purchase will help create a 10-mile long corridor for public recreation through Catoctin Mountain Park, Cunningham Falls State Park, Frederick Municipal Forest and Gambrill State Park in Frederick County.

Maryland plans to acquire more than 382 acres to allow the public access to 21,000 additional acres of parkland, according to the Sept. 5 news release. The release did not mention any specific land the state wanted to buy.

Ward, who said the release was premature, could not provide further details on a possible purchase of Trout Run or a timeline for the sale.

The senators were given the information from the National Park Service when the grant was appropriated, according to Sue Sullam, a spokeswoman for Cardin. Specific property acquisition and purchase negotiations are up to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, she said.

“It's still very early in the process,” Sullam said.

The DNR is doing “due diligence” on the property, according to Izzy Patoka of the Governor's Office of Community Initiatives.

Before any purchase is made, the state Board of Public Works, which includes the comptroller and the governor, will have sign off on it, he said.

kheerbrandt@gazette.net