The Goal of Park Planning
1981 Master Plan for Patapsco Valley State Park ( PVSP Master Plan 1981.pdf)
No single special-interest group should have exclusive privileges in deciding the future of the State Park, or any specific construction projects in the Park; it seems like a violation of the public trust for the Park Service to plan and collaborate in private (see the letter from the Park Service to the Howard County Council: Nita Settina re Patapsco Heritage Greenway.pdf).
Balancing the disparate uses of the Park (while preserving it) is the job of the Department of Natural Resources. All the advocates for the Park should be equal stakeholders. The Sierra Club position is that the Patapsco Heritage Greenway, Inc. would not be an equal stakeholder in Park planning if acting as the "managing entity" for the Park at the same time. The expectation is that PHG, Inc. would fund the Master Plan as well (see the Baltimore Sun article, in which the PHG, Inc. president explains, "You can't do one without the other.")
If certified as "managing entity" of a Heritage Area including Park property, PHG, Inc. would be able to fund and carry out construction projects in the State Park without public review. According to the Howard County Council (see work session video of July 22, 2014 at ), DNR will approve the PHG, Inc. plans through the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority directly. This was confirmed by the Attorney General’s office ( PHA Memo Attorney General.doc): no public review is required.
To construct paths and overlooks in the Park while financing and working on the Master Plan for the Park at the same time, seems like an egregious conflict of interest.
All the other activities of a Heritage Area, from marketing to environmental stewardship to "telling the story", can be accomplished without including the Park in the Area. Including the Park in the Area, before the Master Plan is written, allows construction to begin on projects before they are approved by the public. That is, in fact, the ONLY reason to include the Park from the beginning, rather than adding it to the Heritage Area after writing a new Master Plan.
The Sierra Club position is that the Park's Master Plan, and any potential construction projects for the Park, must first be approved by the public. Share our position with decision-makers, especially at the Park Service: email Nita.Settina@maryland.gov.