What Elk Landing Said When Land was Acquired in 2003

(The following 2003 press release from Elk Landing provides insight on the value of the land when it was put under Elk Landing control.)

July 17, 2003
Elk Landing Acquires Land
By Eric F. Mease

Historic Elk Landing is larger than it used to be. Twenty acres of land were recently added to the Landing by the Town of Elkton, bringing to a grand total of 62 acres administered by the Historic Elk Landing Foundation. The forty-two acres where the Hollingsworth House and the Stone House both reside were originally acquired in 1999 by the Town and leased to The Landing. Town Planner, Jeanne Minner, says those first 42 acres cost $390,500 dollars. “The Town applied for and received funding assistance from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Program Open Space (POS),” Jeanne explained. “By December of 2002, (the Town of Elkton) had received a total of $341,595. The Town’s financial contribution for this acquisition was only $48,905.”

Jeanne says most of this latest purchase of 26 acres is being paid for in much the same way. “On November 25, 2002, the Town of Elkton purchased the additional 26 acres of land to the north of the existing Hollingsworth House for $715,000,” Jeanne pointed out. “Six acres were subdivided for sewer plant expansion. (This land) will be purchased with funds from water and sewer hook-up fees. The Town has requested funding from Program Open Space for the remaining twenty acres.”

Jeanne says, the state is acting quickly on that request. “So far, the Town received final approval from the state for the first $78,877,” Jeanne continues, and we “just received approval for a second installment of $100,969 from the Cecil County Parks and Recreation Board. The next step for the second installment is approval from the Cecil County Planning Commission, the Cecil County Commissioners, and finally the Maryland Board of Public Works.”

So how will Elk Landing use the land? From the town’s perspective, there will be a future Greenways connection to the municipal parkland to the north. From the Elk Landing Foundation’s perspective, the added acreage removes the development threat from the area immediately north of the site. Foundation President, Mike Dixon says the threat was real. “The owners had listed the land with a realtor,” Mike explains, “and several developers had discussed the possibility of building apartments just beyond our fence line. Of course, apartments standing a short distance from the colonial-era Hollingsworth House would have affected our ability to present a realistic program, one that convinced tourists that they had stepped back in time and left the 21st century behind.”

For the immediate future, Mike says the goal is to preserve the open space. However, “The acquisition of the additional land will, someday, allow us to construct a visitor’s center at the northern tip of the property, somewhere just north of the detention center driveway. The center would include a mini-theatre for showing a video about the history of Elk Landing, an information booth and exhibits, comfort facilities, a snack bar, and a gift shop.” But, Mike continues, that’s not all. “In addition to having our visitor’s center there, a small portion of the tract will contain a parking lot for the guests who will, in a few more years, be making Cecil’s county seat a destination.”

Mike says “open space” will also play a significant role in the land’s use. “In between the visitor center and our historic tract of land, there will be a transitional area. As tourists walk through the 20 acre property, they will slowly ease their way from the modern-day to the colonial times, as they stroll through the appropriately landscaped acreage to reach the primary interpretive area.”

Of course, Mike says, this is all but a dream. It all depends on adequate funding to make it reality. “Thanks to the foresight of the town,” Mike continued, “we’ve taken the first steps. The open space at Elk Landing will be used to create our vision of an old colonial port and plantation; one that once drew sailing ships, wagons, and carriages to Little Elk Creek, but in this century will soon draw modern-day tourists to the county seat.”

Historic Elk Landing is grateful to both the Town of Elkton for its initial purchase of the land, and the State of Maryland for its reimbursement to the Town.

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2 responses to “What Elk Landing Said When Land was Acquired in 2003

  1. Zebulone Hollingsworth

    Greetings and felicitations all you Elktonians!!

    Well, it would appear we are in somewhat of a sticky wicket, if I do say so myself. What’s this discussion about selling my historic land? For shame. Placing the mighty dollar, or pound sterling in my day, up against preservation of historic land. With all this fuss, it would appear that the mighty Mayor has over reached this time. And who is pulling the strings? Mary Jo? Say it isn’t so… Jo!! What’s in it for you? Votes? Development praise? Loss of a tourist attraction and historic landmark that already boasts over 6 thousand tourists in two years? Again I say, “say it isn’t so… Jo!”

    How’s your record… Jo? I guess sitting on that cool $100,000 annual budget has made you a little over confident. Well, we’ll see, Ms Jo. We’ll see.

    For the moment, we’ll keep up the good fight! Tally Ho and cheers!!!

    Zeb

  2. Mary Hollingsworth

    Gather round children for your bed time story.

    Developer: Hello, Mr. Mayor… may I have the keys to the town?

    Mayor: No, but you can have the next best thing.

    Developer: What’s that?

    Mayor: the best, most prime historic land in the town. How about that?

    Developer: That will do fine. Must I promise anyone anything?

    Mayor: Nope.

    Developer: Will it cost me anything?

    Mayor: Only the price of some old industrial site that no one wants.

    Developer: Sounds too good to be true.

    Mayor: Not this time.

    MD: Not so fast, Mr. Mayor.

    Mayor: Oh no, it’s MD!

    Developer: Who’s MD?

    Mayor: He’s the meanest, badest, most historic history guy in the town.

    Developer: Is that bad?

    Mayor: Probably.

    MD: What’s this I hear about you two collaboratin’ on a big land deal including some very historic land? You should know better.

    Mayor: Shucks, MD. I didn’t think it would get you so rilied up. It’s only land for land and the town gets a new store.

    Developer: Yeah… what he said.

    MD: Only land for land? That’s not just ordinary land. That land borders where some of the most significant episodes in the town of Elkton took place. Why, if it hadn’t been for that land, we probably wouldn’t be a nation, let a lone a town.

    Mayor: I feel a data dump coming on.

    MD: You see, Mr. Developer, 2 hundred years ago that land now called Elk Landing was where the British landed prior to the Battle of the Brandywine and the taking of Philadelphia. On that land the French and the Americans traveled on their way to victory at Yorktown. On that land the American troops were paid with French gold for the first time in months. And on that land the local Cecil Militia saved the town from burning by the British in the War of 1812. And on that land was the most prosperous trading route between Philadelphia and Baltimore. Heck, in colonnial days, it was the fourth largest port in British North America. I could go on, but I see your eyes are glassing over so I won’t.

    Mayor: Wake up Mr. Developer. Wake up.

    Developer: What? Did someone say something? I didn’t know that land was so important.

    Mayor: You’re not giving up, are you Mr. Developer?

    Developer: You know what they say, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” It’s gettin’ hot in here.

    Mayor: But what about our deal?

    Developer: Ask MD. Maybe he can find a better use for the land.

    Mayor: What do you say MD?

    MD: As my friend Mr. Hollingsworth says, over 6,000 tourists have come through Elk Landing in the last two years. Why not invest in the site? Sounds like the returns would be pretty darn good.

    Mayor: Do you think that would work?

    MD: Of course I do. Invest, young man, invest!

    Oh Grandma Holllingsworth, that was a nifty story. Did the Mayor invest in the land?

    Don’t know, youngin. It’s only a story. Now go to sleep and dream about history: what might have been and what might yet be.

    -Mary Hollingsworth

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