After information first leaked that The U.S. Naval Academy Golf Association (NAGA) and Athletic Association and proposed a second golf course at Greenbury Point in Annapolis, there was immediate backlash from conservationists and community members who use Greenbury Point’s trails for hiking, dog-walking, and enjoying Severn River, Whitehall Bay, and Chesapeake Bay views.
Now, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman has a proposal of his own for the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Annapolis-owned land. In a letter to NSA Annapolis Commanding Officer Capt. Homer Denius, Pittman asks for the agency to “allow Anne Arundel County to keep it as a conservation area, managed by our Department of Recreation and Parks through a long-term lease.”
The county’s plan is a contrast from the NAGA development proposal, which would put a second 18-hole golf course adjacent to the existing 18-hole course that was extensively renovated in 2020. Both course would be open to midshipmen, USNA faculty and staff, active and retired military and civilians who are members.
Critics say the development would destroy animal and bird habitat and take away public access to the park and waterfront. Currently, Greenbury Point’s 3.1 miles of trail is open for public access on some days, as the natural resources conservation area is also home to Navy firearm ranges. Roads used recreationally by the public are within the Surface Danger Zone, so the public areas can close anytime. Folks know that there is a Twitter feed you can check for the latest schedule.
On the Naval District Washington’s Greenbury Point web page, Denius reminds visitors that using the property for recreation is a privilege, not a right. ““Greenbury Point is a part of a naval installation and therefore is owned by the Navy. What I’d like everyone to know is that it might be federal property, but it does not mean it’s public. We maintain the property to serve and support NSA Annapolis’s mission. Since we have the opportunity to open to the public, I would like everyone to respect the property, its cleanliness, and the rules that are in place.”
A Facebook group formed in May after the golf course plans came to light called “Save Greenbury Point” has 2,400 members who share photos of wildlife sightings and historical articles on Greenbury Point’s origins—not to mention its three World War I-era radio towers that still remain as a landmark for navigating boats.
In its plan to preserve Greenbury Point, Anne Arundel County pledges to “enhance” its current conservation uses, making investments to “extend the natural and paved trails
and consider water access improvements such as a designated fishing area, observation overlooks, and
even a shoreline ‘paddle-in’ park.” The county would add some “modest addition parking capacity” and a park ranger substation.
Using existing funding to create concept designs, Anne Arundel would also prioritize improving natural meadow areas, pollinator habitat, reforestation, removing invasive species, and planting shoreline grasses.
In Pittman’s letter, he acknowledges that Greenbury Point is needed for Navy operations and training exercises. He points out that the county already partners with the Naval Academy and U.S. Navy, with a lease at the Navy Dairy Farm in Gambrills, Md. and an easement at Greenbury Point for public telecommunication using the radio towers.
Chesapeake Conservancy, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Severn River Association have all expressed support for Pittman’s proposal. NSA Annapolis has not publicly responded to Pittman’s letter.
-Meg Walburn Viviano