Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tear down that fence

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I am appalled at the Columbia Country Club’s disingenuous claims about the need to protect the Georgetown Branch⁄Capital Crescent Trail by killing the Purple Line light rail project.

The publicly owned right-of-way through the club ground is 100 feet wide — plenty of space for the trail, a two-track trolley line, and a wide green space buffer to separate the two from each other and from the golf course.

The casual observer would never know that the right-of-way extends far beyond the narrow interim trail route through the golf course. That’s because the country club demanded — and got — the county to pay $140,000 to build chain link fences that confine the path to a fraction of the space available in the right-of-way back in 1996. The fences serve to keep the public, the taxpayers who bought and paid for the right-of-way as well as the fences, off of their own land.

Why doesn’t County Executive Ike Leggett take steps to remove the fences that allow the country club and its members the exclusive use of this public property free of charge. Alternatively, I would like to see Mr. Leggett start charging the club rent for the use of the right-of-way. The money generated from renting the land could be used to extend the trail to Silver Spring, where we have waited 20 years for it as part of the Purple Line project.

It is past time for our elected officials to take a stand against a transportation policy that puts the needs of golfers ahead of a trail and light rail line that will serve the public interest.

Casey Anderson, Silver Spring