The St. Mary's County Department of Recreation and Parks Director Phil Rollins went to the Board of County Commissioners seeking approval of $50,000 toward the $1.9 million cost of building the Mechanicsville section of the Three Notch Trail. This section will connect the two existing sections to create an 11 mile trail, much of which follows the old railroad of the same name.
But several new members of the commission asked if, instead of closing that gap, the trail could be contiinued south from the existing southern section to Hollywood, California or Lexington Park. The reason given by Commissioner Dan Morris was that “Where this section of trail is, I have some problems." “Sometimes we make decisions that reverse momentum from previous boards.” Commissioner Lawrence Jarboe added. Morris then adds, without explanation, "“Make [the Mechanicsville section] the last one. It doesn’t have to be rushed. I think the general population would be much happier” if the trail were built in California and Lexington Park.
The thing is that the county is already well into the design and engineering phase. That contract for the Mechanicsville section of the trail has already been awarded for $164,778 and so far $61,796 has been spent on the work. Furthermore, the sections that the Commissioners want to see moved up in the order are not ready for trail construction.
In the California and Lexington Park area, the old railroad right of way is intended to be used to build FDR Boulevard. The continuance of Three Notch Trail relies on plans for that road, .... Plans for the development in the trail in Hollywood are several years out and the old railroad right of way is gone; it was used to dualize Route 235. There is an electrical utility easement through Hollywood, but the entire corridor is not publicly owned.
Morris isn't worried about that because “Wouldn’t that design be good for years? The thing about the earth is, it doesn’t change until man changes it.” Which is true if you ignore earthquakes, volcanoes, glaciers, rain, wind and all of the other forms of weather and geological events.
But even if we ignore nature, man still changes things. Today's plans might not be relevant 10 years from now because of land transactions, and such a reordering could delay this section by much more than that. DC, for example, had originally planned to turn the area along the Met Branch Trail north of NY Avenue into a park, but in the years between the plan and the design, PEPCO and others bought the land that DC needed for that park. So waiting has consequences.
Another report stresses some opposition in Mechanicsville.
The minutes and video from the December 13th meeting are not yet available.