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State considering land near South Mountain State Battlefield

August 16, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com

The state has offered to buy land near South Mountain State Battlefield.

The parcels are the 9.1-acre Wise South Field and the 5.5-acre Mahaffey Woods, said John Braskey, the Western Maryland regional administrator for land acquisition and planning for the state Department of Natural Resources.

The land belongs to the Central Maryland Heritage League, a nonprofit group based in Middletown, Md.

Executive Director Bill Wilson said the league is interested in selling the parcels to the state. He said the state offered to pay $55,575, a price he called "eminently fair."

He said the league is awaiting further instructions from the state on how the contract will be drawn up.

The final agreement will be sent to the state Board of Public Works for its approval.

South Mountain State Park runs along the border of Frederick and Washington counties.

The Department of Natural Resources' website says the Civil War battle fought there on Sept. 14, 1862, was the first in Maryland and a turning point in the war.

"The Union victories at South Mountain and Antietam (fought three days later) led President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation," the DNR's website says.

Wilson said the Wise property, at the top of South Mountain, encompasses land around Reno Monument and is battlefield land.

The Mahaffey property is about a quarter mile away on Reno Monument Road and is part of the viewshed around the battlefield.

Both parcels have easements that don't allow development.

Wilson said the Central Maryland Heritage League and the state have talked about a possible sale for at least five years.

The idea resurfaced recently. A July 21 letter from the Department of Natural Resources to Terry Baker, the president of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, says there is a "potential real estate acquisition" in Washington County.

The DNR contacted Washington County because the properties "straddle the county line," the letter says.

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