63 Acres of Forest at Center of Land Donation Debate

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

SALISBURY, Md.- A land donation to Wicomico County that could have translated into big money in tourism will not move forward.

City Council President Jake Day said the Salisbury City Council held a public hearing Monday night to hear concerns on an expansion to the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex on Naylor Mill Road. The complex already has four softball fields, a baseball field, and a handful of soccer fields.

The proposed expansion would have almost doubled that. The fields would have been built on 63 acres forest land that many people, like Joan Maloof of the Old Growth Forest Network, felt should be preserved. 

"I always speak out in favor of preserving forests but this one, especially, is important when you consider the well and when you consider how rare these forests are in the middle of city, a growing city like Salisbury," Maloof said.

Wicomico County Tourism Manager Steve Miller said an expansion could have increased tourism. 

"We can't afford to just sit on our hands and hope that events and organizers continue to come back here. We think the expansion will solidify our place as a leader in this space in sports marketing, to retain the business and again to grow it," Miller said. 

Monday's hearing lasted about two and a half hours during which Day said the vast majority of residents were opposed to the expansion.

There was no motion given to approve the deal, which would have resulted in the city donating the land to Wicomico County for the expansion.


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