State Finalizes Newtowne Neck Park Plan

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Dec. 17, 2015)—On Tuesday, the Maryland Park Service (MPS) showed its latest plan for 776 acres of land in Newtowne Neck that the state purchased back in 2009, which it said balanced the wishes of tourists and local residents alike.

The plan aims to retain and preserve the nearly pristine rural character and waterfront of the land, park officials say, once long-owned by the Society of Jesus and the home of one of the oldest Catholic parishes in the United States. But it still represents a significant increase in the amount of development that is slated to occur their to provide more tourist amenities.

The master plan is the result of a long, sometimes-stalled and occasionally controversial process in which some local residents complained that the part land was better served to stay as it is.

According to master plan documents the land is almost completely untouched except for some parking and a park ranger house along with some trails.

The new plan calls for improving the roads that lead into and out of the park land as well as implementing a conservation buffer around St. Francis Xavier Church.

The plan includes 10 miles of walking and nature trails as well as two dedicated stations for tourists or hikers to rest. There will also be two dedicated kayak launches and two campsites that campers can access via water if they paddle in, the plan states.

Improved access to beach and fishing areas are also included in the plan; a pier for larger boats is also planned.

Currently there is a transient pier available that Natural Resources Police use; they will also be responsible for patrolling the park to ensure public safety, said Mary Owens, chief of planning with MPS.

There will be a significant increase in the amount of parking available, with 80 to 100 spaces available across seven lots, according to the plan.

At the ranger station, which is currently in operation, the state plans a nature discovery center, a special events barn as well as a kayak launch and additional parking.

At the end of the neck of the property, also known as the Lacey Beach site, there are plans for a pavilion, restroom and picnic area with two parking lots for access to the beach and for closer access to the pavilion.

The master plan is for a 15-year period and will mean that several old or dilapidated structures will be razed; about $700,000 will be spent on initial improvements between now and 2020 according to the plan.

Christie Bright, head ranger for the county’s parks, said the park service realized there were some who were still opposed to further development to the land.

“Not everybody is going to be happy,” Bright told county commissioners.

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Md. DNR's page on Newtowne Neck State Park

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