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3 county residents named to park task force

September 11, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

ROHRERSVILLE - Three people from Washington County have been appointed by Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening to a task force studying the feasibility of creating a state park at South Mountain.

Daniel P. Spedden, of Boonsboro, will be vice chairman of the South Mountain Battlefield Historic Tourism Initiative Task Force. Spedden will represent the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Also from Washington County are Joseph L. Motter of Rohrersville, who is a member of the Friends of Gathland State Park; and Barbara A. Rodenhiser, a member of Friends of Washington Monument State Park.

"Things like this don't come along that often, and to be involved on the ground floor of a new facility and a new concept is exciting," Spedden said.

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If a state park is established at South Mountain, which includes Turner's Gap, Fox's Gap and Crampton's Gap, it will be the first battlefield state park in Maryland, Spedden said.

"It's something we've been hoping for for a long time," he said.

As many as 5,200 people died on South Mountain on Sept. 14, 1862, during the first major Civil War battle to be fought in Maryland. The Battle of Antietam followed on Sept. 17.

Parts of the battlefield are already owned by the state. Three state parks converge in the area: Gathland, South Mountain and Washington Monument.

The task force was created by Joint Resolution 12 of the 1999 session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Members are to determine how a South Mountain Park would improve economic development opportunities and affect historic preservation efforts in Western Maryland.

They will identify funding sources necessary to operate the state park. Spedden said he hopes the group can come up with ways the park can be self-sufficient.

The task force also will recommend procedures for the management and maintenance of the park and identify property issues that need to be addressed.

The state already has control over the majority of the land through ownership or easements, Spedden said.

Residents need not be concerned about an influx of tourists, he said.

"Many Civil War historians have been visiting the site already on their own. This will give us more control over it," he said.

The task force is expected to report to the governor and the General Assembly by Jan. 19.

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