63 Acres of Forest at Center of Land Donation Debate - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

63 Acres of Forest at Center of Land Donation Debate

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A softball field at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex in Salisbury. (Photo: WBOC) A softball field at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex in Salisbury. (Photo: WBOC)

WICOMICO COUNTY, Md.- Tourism leaders in Wicomico County want to go bigger and better when it comes to the athletic events and tournaments that come to town.  To do so, the county needs more land to make Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex larger.  The land could come from the city of Salisbury, but many have raised environmental concerns surrounding the land donation.

Adjacent to the fields and parking lot at the athletic complex on Naylor Mill Road is nearly 63 acres of trees, shrubs, and mother nature.  Joan Maloof, founder and executive director of the Old-Growth Forest Network, believes the land needs to be preserved.

"This forest is protecting the main drinking water source for our city," Maloof said. "So the trees and the soil here help filter the water here to the well which is right next to me, where most of the water is coming from. So, keeping this forest intact will help to keep that well clean and healthy for our water."

Maloof added the forest near the athletic complex has rich bio-diversity and is often used for biking and hiking.  However, the forest may soon become a softball field.  The Salisbury City Council is debating whether to donate the land to Wicomico County.  If that happens, the county already has plans drawn up to expand the sports complex, adding more playing fields and possibly bringing more people to town.

"We believe we can increase the number of tournaments. We believe, in the next three years, if the facility expands, we'd increase hotel room nights by about 8,000 and that economic impact will turn from $47 million to $60 million, and that's what is at stake here," said Steve Miller, tourism director for Wicomico County.

On Monday night, the Salisbury City Council held a public hearing on the possible donation during the regular city council meeting  The council took comments and concerns from city residents. However, it is up to the council to decide if the land will ultimately be donated to Wicomico County.

To view more details about the land in question, click here

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