Boasting about removing large trees is par for the course with the Naval Academy Golf Association – delving into the press releases and rhetoric about a second golf course

The Navy said they’re no longer considering the competing proposals that were submitted by the Naval Academy Golf Association (NAGA) and Anne Arundel County for the undeveloped portion of Greenbury Point.

NAGA wants to build a new golf course, next to the existing golf course – Anne Arundel County wants to keep the land as natural area.

The Navy indicated the two proposals canceled one another out.

Let’s start with the property – the undeveloped portion of Greenbury Point, the one in question, is managed for conservation. It’s on Naval Support Activity (NSA) Annapolis, which is a subordinate command to Naval District Washington (NDW) and it’s protected by a lot of environmental laws – one of which is the Sikes Act, which gives the the public use of the property when it’s not being used as a firing range.

NSA Annapolis supports the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA).

What did the Navy mean with their latest statement? Did these proposals cancel one another out forever?

“Sole source and competing interest are key here,” stated Ed Ziegler, NDW’s director of public affairs. “We cannot sole source with competing proposals. That will not change for any future unsolicited proposals.”

In other words, these two proposals, as they were, cancelled one another out.

If another proposal were to be submitted that was different than the first, another competing proposal might have to be submitted and so on and so on and so on – until one party or the other stops submitting proposals.

The other options would be for the Navy to tell Chet Gladchuk, president of the Naval Academy Golf Association, another golf course isn’t mission supported, the Navy could list the property as excess and sell it (through competitive bid) or for Congress to set it aside in perpetuity as conservation land.

Who owns Greenbury Point? Technically, it’s the United States because the Department of Defense (DOD), which the Department of Navy (DON) is part of, is taxpayer funded. That doesn’t mean the American people can dictate uses of the property.

“The Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) has administrative jurisdiction and control over all real property owned by the United States for DON” states SECNAV instruction SECNAVINST 11011.47D. “

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The uses of any DOD property, including Greenbury Point, are supposed to be supportive of the missions of the DOD or more specifically in this case, NSA Annapolis and the USNA.

The missions of all the organizations involved was explored in depth in another article previously published on this site.

The Navy’s statement about competing proposals cancelling one another out out included, “NSA Annapolis is currently evaluating the status and future of Greenbury Point in support of the mission of both the installation and the U.S. Naval Academy,” as did Ziegler’s most recent email to this reporter.

Gladchuk’s proposal and rhetoric

Shortly after the article questioning missions was published and after the Navy’s statement about competing proposals was released, Gladchuk discussed, with another reporter, how his new golf course proposal relates to the missions.

Let’s fact check what Gladchuk said in interview published in August in Meanwhile in Annapolis.

According to that article, Gladchuk “called the environmental impact of a golf course at Greenbury Point on the bay’s health almost infinitesimal.”

When land needed for a new golf course would have to clear any amount of trees, let alone acres of them – trees that are protecting against climate change, Gladchuk’s assessment isn’t true.

“As trees grow, they help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. Trees provide many benefits to us, every day,” states the Arbor Day Foundation’s website. “They offer cooling shade, block cold winter winds, attract birds and wildlife, purify our air, prevent soil erosion, clean our water, and add grace and beauty to our homes and communities.”

According to Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) for NSA Annapolis, “The INRMP is a long-term planning document that guides implementation of the natural resources program at NSA Annapolis to help ensure support for the installation mission, while protecting and enhancing natural resources and providing a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities for DoD personnel, their dependents, and guests.”

Completed-Final-NSA-Annapolis-INRMP_May-2011

Work that was done previously on the property is important to keep in mind for work done for the future. Work that is planned for in the future on NSA Annapolis is supposed to be mentioned in the facility’s IRNMP.

There is no mention of a second golf course in the current INRMP.

Any trees that were removed previously at Greenbury Point had to be mitigated with new trees which take upwards of 40 years to reach maturity – many areas of Greenbury were already planted with trees used for mitigation of other projects.

Previous mitigation areas on Greenbury Point include work done for the Brigade Sports Complex, which was dedicated in 2007.

Gladchuk not only claimed that the “environmental impact of a golf course at Greenbury Point on the bay’s health almost infinitesimal,” he also said NAGA would mitigate for the new loss of trees.

Janet Norman retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) this year – as such, she no longer speaks for the agency.

As a natural resources biologist for the USFWS, Norman helped write the Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan (INRMP) for NSA Annapolis. The INRMP, which is required by the Sikes Act, is the roadmap for DOD properties in protecting natural resources.

“So claiming to ‘mitigate’ for the proposed golf course on top of land that was already used for mitigation, and needs maturation time to account for the mature forest clearing done, does not seem to make ecological sense,” stated Norman. “In many of the mitigation assessments I have done for other projects, we have used forest successional growth projections to examine habitat over time to determine adequate acreage calculations. This mitigation planting done in 2009 has not had its growth time to become the mature forest that was lost.”

Design designated mitigation area completed in 2009 at Greenbury Point.

The Navy’s Climate Action 2030, published in May 2022, states, ” Climate change is an existential threat that impacts not only our operations and readiness but also our infrastructure, our forces, and their families. Rising sea levels, recurring flooding, and more frequent and destructive hurricanes threaten our coastal installations. Changes in global climate and other dangerous trans-boundary threats, including pandemics, are only expected to worsen, posing increasing challenges for our forces, platforms, infrastructure, and supporting communities, and driving or intensifying conflict and humanitarian disasters around the world. The DON will adapt to these challenges that are increasingly putting pressure on our force and the systems that support it. To combat these impacts, the Department of the Navy has an urgent charge: to build a climate-ready force.

To achieve this, the DON must meet two Performance Goals:

  1. Build Climate Resilience. Ensure that our forces, systems, and facilities can continue to operate effectively and achieve the mission in the face of changing climate conditions, and worsening climate impacts.
  2. Reduce Climate Threat. The Department must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and draw greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, stabilize ecosystems, and achieve,
    as an enterprise, the nation’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.”
Department-of-the-Navy-Climate-Action-2030-220531

As for the Chesapeake Bay and its shorelines, the impacts of climate change/sea level rise, including more frequent and severe flooding, warmer water temperatures and loss of land have already been seen, including at Greenbury Point.

How would the USNA/NSA Annapolis reduce climate threats? For certain, not by removing natural areas including mature/maturing trees/forested areas that are protecting against climate change by sequestering carbo dioxide and providing a natural buffer against sea level rise.

Added to that concern is the history of removing trees and replanting them elsewhere on the property – even when no one seems to have any idea how many trees have been destroyed for the existing golf course.

The Navy, when asked for an accurate count of trees removed for the 2019 renovation for the existing golf course, could not find any count – much less an accurate one.

Ziegler stated, “I have not been able to confirm that 500 tress (sp) were removed. Our PWD combed through documentation and could not find where trees were removed. There have been several projects at the golf course over the last few years and the only project that discussed trees being removed was the Short Game Practice Course project.  A building was installed, which required some trees to be removed, but they were mitigated with the replacement of trees.”

Bill Wagner, a sports writer for the Capital Gazette, wrote about the course reopening in 2020 – his article included an interview with Eric David, the course superintendent.

Wagner wrote, “David, who earned a two-year turf degree from Michigan State, explained that eliminating large, overhanging trees was crucial to growing healthy grass throughout the course. Therefore, large trees that were casting massive shadows were removed. David said they went hole-by-hole and took out trees that had grown too big.”

“Trees that had grown too big” are exactly the kind one would want for sequestering carbon dioxide, which protect against climate change.

Boasting about removing big trees for a golf course renovation that was done in 2019 is apparently par for the course with NAGA.

Navy’s Climate Action 2030, states, “The DON is also building resilience and sequestering carbon through regenerative land management techniques. For example, Naval Air Station Patuxent River stopped mowing the grass on much of the base, allowing it to return to natural forest, saving the base over $400K annually on grounds maintenance, sequestering carbon dioxide, reducing emissions from mowing equipment, and improving species habitat, stormwater runoff, and quality of life for base employees. Keeping the grass near the airfield taller also reduced bird strike risk, a significant mission benefit.”

Because the Navy is unlikely to take the existing golf course back from NAGA and allow it return to its natural state, leaving natural areas as is, such as the undeveloped portion of Greenbury Point, would seemingly align perfectly with Navy’s Climate Action 2030 and Executive Order 14072.

Locally, climate change and resilience are the focus of at least two different reports, neither of which we’ve seen yet.

There’s the resilience review for Naval Support Activity, Anne Arundel County, and City of Annapolis.

That review, according to the press release, was expected to be completed in June of this year – according to Mitchelle Stephenson, public information officer for the city Annapolis, it looking like late fall.

In February of this year, according to the minutes of the USNA Visitors Board meeting, “VADM Buck explained that the Military Installation Resiliency Plan which was developed over the past year for the Naval Academy is now complete and includes proposed engineering solutions to implement between now and 2065. He thanked the Board for the advocacy which helped secure $33 million to repair the Farragut seawall, one of the first mitigation measures to be implemented. He promised to share the results of the Military Installation Resiliency Plan with the Board once Navy leadership had been briefed.”

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This reporter reached out to the USNA for a copy of the plan.

The response from Cdr. Alana Garas, USNA’s public affairs officer, stated, “Vice Admiral Buck’s words to the USNA Board of Visitors in February was that he “has the report in his hands,” meaning that the plan had been finalized by staff and submitted for his review. This plan still needs to be briefed to senior Navy leadership before it is released to a wider audience.”

While these reports, as well as Navy Climate Action 2030, should be considered before any decisions are made about the fate of Greenbury Point and what lies downstream, what has already been noted by the U.S. Navy is worth mentioning.

In a 2019 environmental assessment, which was required for work on seawalls, it was stated, “NSA Annapolis is vulnerable to localized flooding and storm surge associated with major weather events and higher water levels, particularly during high tides. Climate change would exacerbate these conditions (NAVFAC Washington, 2018a).”

Annapolis-Seawalls-Public-Draft-EA-final-508c-1

While the Navy knows that “climate change would exacerbate these conditions,” perhaps Gladchuk wasn’t aware of climate change, sea level rise and the associated concerns in protecting DOD assets.

The environmental assessment goes on to state, “The Chesapeake Bay region is considered one of the nation’s most vulnerable areas to sea level rise, as data have shown that sea level rise is occurring at the highest rate on the Atlantic Coast. There are two
reasons for this: the ground in the region is sinking due to natural land subsidence, and ocean levels are rising (USGS, 2013). In 2018, a record number of 41 flood events occurred at NSA Annapolis. Flooding events have increased over the past 20 years, and there is the potential for increased frequency in the future due to sea level rise. Table 1-3 and Figure 1-5 show estimated sea level rise projections from 2000 to 2100 based on various scenarios. The projected increase in sea level rise varies from low to extreme scenarios.”

And this while Gladchuk wants to add an unnecessary, second golf course and clubhouse/banquet facilities while removing natural area that protects against sea level rise and climate change.

Gladchuk said his proposal would create a cross country course that could be used for competitions. That might be mission-supportive, as current cross country meets are held on the existing golf course.

However, a new cross country course could be built on Greenbury Point without building a new golf course and with much less damage to the environment.

A new golf course isn’t mission-supportive due to the fact the existing golf course is already there and it’s able to be used for competitions.

When the Naval Academy Athletic Association dedicated the renovated course all the way back in – 2020 – as in two years ago, their press release stated, “The final product is now aligned with all Physical Mission facilities at the U.S. Naval Academy and provides and incredible venue for the Navy golf teams and the NAGA membership.”

According to the same press release, Pat Owen, USNA men’s golf coach and director of golf, said, “The course is going to be an incredible benefit not only for this year’s team, but to teams moving forward in the future, because they’ll have a championship golf course to practice and compete.'”

According to that same press release, Gladchuk said, “The United States Naval Academy has to be top of the line in everything we do. We knew this course needed the work. Now, this course reflects exactly where we want to be, which is one of the top collegiate golf courses in the Mid-Atlantic.”

Now, just two years later, that golf course is no longer good enough for Gladchuk.

How is it possible Gladchuk’s renovated “championship and “one of the top collegiate golf courses in the Mid-Atlantic” changed so much in two years?

It hasn’t. The existing golf course can and has been used for tournaments.

According to that Capital Gazette article, in which the golf course superintendent was boasting about removing large trees that provided shade, Pat Owen, USNA’s director of golf was also interviewed.

The article states, “Owen, entering his 31st season as coach of the Navy men’s golf team, said the restoration comes just in time as the course is hosting the Patriot League Championship in May 2021.”

Golf tournaments and cross country matches have continuously been held on NSA Annapolis, but apparently these aren’t the big ones Gladchuk wants.

The Meanwhile in Annapolis interview with Gladchuk states, “’We can’t host national events,’” Gladchuk said. “’We can’t host a regional golf tournament … or cross-country meets.’”

Are the other regional NCAA golf tournament locations on property that is owned by United States and designated as “mission-critical” to the U.S. Navy or any other military department?

No.

The 2022 the NCAA Division One men’s regionals and championship were held at the Traditions Club in Texas, PGA National Resort – Champion Course in Florida, The Course at Yale in Connecticut, The Reserve at Spanos Park in California, Ol’ Colony Golf Complex in Alabama, OSU Golf Club in Ohio and Grayhawk Golf Club in Arizona.

According to the schedules for NCAA Division 1 golf tournaments for men or women through 2026, none are being held on DOD land that is managed for conservation and which is supposed to be used for “mission-critical” requirements.

Aside from seemingly wanting to turn DOD property into a country club, if NAGA is desperate to hold an NCAA regional tournament, they could – however, this would necessitate closing the existing course for the tournament – that might ruffle the feathers of some of its members.

NAGA could rent a nearby course for regional tournaments which could lessen potential traffic impacts in an area that is already known to have substantial traffic issues on spring weekends due to beach traffic – NCAA regionals and championship are held on weekends during the month of May.

The interview in Meanwhile in Annapolis states, “Eighteen more holes would make more golf available to military personnel, academy alumni and retirees who use the current course. But Gladchuk said that is a lesser priority than reaching a higher level of excellence in academy athletic facilities.”

As discussed previously on this site, Gladchuk has catered to civilians with no affiliation to the USNA/DOD and gave these civilians preference over some veterans, as well as USNA/NAAA retirees. This was not only illegal under the Age Discrimination Act, turning DOD land into a country club or second golf course for civilians with deep pockets isn’t NAGA’s mission and it’s not that of the Navy, the USNA, DOD or NSA Annapolis.

The wait list for NAGA membership is likely related to civilians with no affiliation to the DOD/USNA being allowed to buy their way in.

Gladchuk failed to mention that issue in the Meanwhile in Annapolis interview and he failed to mention it in his letter to the Secretary of the Navy.

All of this goes to why Gladchuk wants a new golf course – to make more money through more space for civilians who have no affiliation with the DOD or USNA and who pay much more for NAGA membership.

We’re not talking about just a few, or a few hundred, civilian golfers here and there – a new golf course, with a sole source lease to NAGA, means Gladchuk could rent it, as well as the new clubhouse he wants, for use by for-profit companies and others for corporate outings. tournaments, fundraisers and other functions – all of which can be a huge source of revenue for golf course owners.

There’s something else though we need to consider. The 2019 environmental assessment for construction of seawalls at the USNA and NSA Annapolis, states, “In addition to the factors that have already been discussed, the Proposed Action is needed to maintain
the safety and function of mission-critical areas at the installation. The mission at NSA Annapolis includes seamanship and sail training; small arms weapons familiarization; and navigation and engineering professional development. The mission of the USNA is to develop Midshipmen morally, mentally, and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor, and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of Naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship, and government. Increased frequency or severity of flood events could result in loss of land or damaged facilities in these mission-critical areas and could prevent either NSA Annapolis or the USNA from
accomplishing their missions.”

Mission-supported weapons training at the U.S. Naval Academy Gun Range. U.S. Navy photo.

There is no mention of golf in that environmental assessment as related to mission, but there is mention that the property is “mission-critical” and these seawalls were paid for by taxpayers, as is the “mission-critical” property they’re on.

Is golf suddenly mission-critical? No. It was never mission-critical and it isn’t now.

The one big factor that has changed since that environmental assessment in 2019 is the Navy’s focus on protecting undeveloped land that acts as a buffer for sea level rise/erosion, as well as trees/forest that protect against climate change.

In the Meanwhile in Annapolis interview, Gladchuk tried to use the USNA mission (to develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically) as justification for building a second golf course next to an existing golf course.

His existing golf course is mission-supported because of midshipmen, but not because of civilians that have no affiliation to the DOD.

NAGA created its own issues that led to a waitlist – geographic limitations for civilians that have no affiliation to the DOD could be used to remedy the overcrowding issue as is done at the West Point Golf Course.

If a new course is given the go-ahead, it would likely just lead to more overcrowding by civilians who have no affiliation to the DOD.

Conflict of Interest

The conflict of interest of giving Gladchuk/NAGA a sole source lease for a profit-making enterprise like a second golf course and new clubhouse/banquet facility must also be questioned.

With regard to sole source leases, according to the federal government’s definition of a covered employee is “an individual who performs an acquisition function closely associated with inherently governmental functions and is-

           (1) An employee of the contractor; or

           (2) A subcontractor that is a self-employed individual treated as a covered employee of the contractor because there is no employer to whom such an individual could submit the required disclosures.”

Acting as the sole source lease holder of the second golf course, not to mention the existing course, Gladchuk’s interests in generating income for himself, NAGA and NAAA could considered be a conflict of interest.

Even if a second golf course, a new clubhouse or a new cross country course were to be deemed mission-supportive on land that was already deemed “mission-critical,” NAGA’s request for a sole source lease would still have to be justified under the federal government definitions of circumstances permitting other than full and open competition.

More about NAGA’s proposal

While NAGA has not released their proposal or plan, 18 pages from Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) about NAGA’s proposal have recently come to light because of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by a person who wants to remain anonymous – it was made available to this reporter.

FOIA-Greenbury-Point

While these documents give us some new information, NAVFAC stated in their return of the FOIA request they withheld 74 additional pages, with exemptions noted. In other words, there are still a lot of missing details.

National Environmental Policy Act

The National Environmental Police Act (NEPA) is one of the many federal protections of Greenbury Point.

As we’ve seen with other recent projects on Greenbury Point which qualified for Categorical Exclusions (CATEXs), NAVFEC stated this new golf course would not qualify for a CATEX- this means there’s much more public transparency required.

The reason given for the not qualifying for a CATEX is because of “real estate action.”

Alternatives to a new golf course would be required for approval – like a different location or building a smaller course.

An environmental assessment needs to be done and possibly, a traffic study. That traffic study, should it look at what is happening on that part of the already burdened Broadneck Peninsula from the beginning of May through September, it simply cannot handle more traffic.

New Nature Center

There are quite a few items of interest in NAVFAC’s document including a new, LEED Gold nature center providing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant classroom, office, bathrooms, cultural resources and taxidermy room, apiary, native greenhouse, storage sheds, volunteer equipment, deer tick station equipment, storage and a bald eagle (unsure if that’s live or taxidermy).

Cultural Resources

NAVFAC states, the archaeological survey would be the “bare minimum requirement for all archaeological sites” – they recommended artifacts be displayed in the nature center.

To understand how another Department of Defense (DOD) facility handled cultural resources on a California base that is used for mission-related purposes, not for a second golf course, this article is helpful, as is this guidance from the Army Corps of Engineers for work done at Greenbury Point.

Though “bare minimum” might be better than nothing, NAVFAC also stated they didn’t include the Towne Neck sites and added that those sites are “dependent on footprint of golf course.”

Natural Resources

Greenbury Point is open to the public when the firing range isn’t in use – the NAVFAC document stated, “Make accessibility open at all times.”

Because of exempted pages, NAVFAC doesn’t give any clue what part of the property would be open to the public and which would become a new golf course.

An Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible trail is important, as there’s a lack of ADA accessible trails at Greenbury Point currently and in the surrounding Annapolis/Anne Arundel County areas.

While NAVFAC does mention some improvements for wildlife, those improvements are countered with what’s required for a new golf course.

Gladchuk mentioned in his letter to the Secretary of the Navy, his vision includes “mitigation efforts, including “a berm to fully protect some environmentally sensitive hazardous material on the land.”

What are those hazardous materials?

In another article on this site, this reporter mentioned the firing range and lead from spent ammunition, yet others suggested it’s for something else entirely – sediment which came pumping out the Annapolis harbor and this goes back many decades.

“This was a concern to me and it was also a concern to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Dr. Stephen Ailstock, who also helped write the INRMP for NSA Annapolis.

Ailstock explained that this sediment/sludge was dumped into containment cells on Greenbury Point going back to the 1930s, but those cells have the potential for breaching – especially considering sea level rise and climate change producing more severe storms.

Norman worked with Ailstock on the NSA Annapolis IRNMP – she remembers Ailstock’s concerns for the potential breach and contaminants/sediments impacting the Chesapeake Bay and she concurred the USFWS had the same concerns at that time.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Ailstock.

Sediment plume in Chesapeake Bay following Tropical Storm Lee. NASA.

“The sort of ultra-fine sediment that would be contained in dredge spoil poses a clear threat to the health of the Severn River and the Bay,” stated Jesse Iliff. executive director of the Severn River Association. ” This material is so small that once cast into suspension in the water column, it can take weeks to dissipate, during which time the cloudy water prevents the growth of underwater grasses, clogs the gills of fish, and smothers oyster beds. On top of that, there is usually a high phosphorus content in this sort of material, which can fuel algae blooms that cause dead zones. All of those effects are virtually certain with large sediment escapes, whether it be from poorly maintained construction sites, or legacy containment cells being breached. But what is equally alarming is the question of what else might be in this material, much of which would have been deposited on Greenbury point before the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, or the Clean Water Act. Much of this material, if not all of it, was being deposited on the point when there were effectively zero environmental safeguards in place to regulate its composition or placement. If another event like Hurricane Isabel or superstorm Sandy were to cause a breach of those containment cells, that would be a very scary situation.”

The Navy has a responsibility to ensure sediment or other contaminants at Greenbury Point will not now or ever harm the environment – while it may be attractive to have NAGA, not taxpayers, pay for it, it should be done correctly, with oversight and without strings for a golf course for NAGA attached.

Anne Arundel County’s Proposal

The timing of Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman’s proposal for the county to lease Greenbury Point came three months before the election in November which will decide if he stays in office.

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With no shortage of opposition to the proposal by NAGA to lease the undeveloped portion of Greenbury Point from the U.S. Navy to build another 18-hole golf course, Pittman decided Anne Arundel County should submit a proposal to lease the same property from the Navy.

The opposition to NAGA’s proposal suddenly had a new hero in the County Executive – the Save Greenbury Point Facebook group cover photo was immediately changed (it has since been changed again) and there were lots of posts and comments supporting Pittman’s proposal.

Save Greenbury Point Facebook group cover photo after County Executive Steuart Pittman’s announcement.

On its face, Pittman’s proposal offered much that conservationists would prefer over a membership-only golf course on land that is currently managed for conservation, but there is more to be considered.

The county is severely lacking ADA-compliant parks and recreational facilities – ADA non-compliant websites are required for park-goers to use to get passes and/or combinations to unlock ADA non-complaint gates at some parks.

The County Executive said the county would have a ranger substation at Greenbury Point, but there are already a number of county parks that don’t have substations yet need them.

Because they don’t have ranger substations at many parks in the county’s current inventory, the county created issues for those that are disabled – barriers to entry in the form of heavy gates that must opened and closed by a park-goers.

These gates are not ADA compliant nor are the combination locks on some of them.

Thomas Point Park doesn’t just have one gate but two that are not compliant with the ADA. Though Anne Arundel County is well aware of these gates nothing has been done about it.

The lack of a ranger substation at Thomas Point Park has contributed to overcrowding, people using the park without required passes, an owl being shot, owls and eagles (federally protected) being harassed and more recently, a man, who is not employed by the county and who is not subcontractor, was spraying weed killer throughout the park (the reporter alerted park personnel at Quiet Waters Park who responded.

That’s just one park though. What’s happening at all the others that don’t have ranger substations?

Homeport Farm Park had repeated vandalism incidents until a gate was put in that blocked vehicles from entering without a code.

The County Executive wrote about his experience with the gate at Homeport Farm Park in a May 2022 Facebook post.

“I visited the park last summer for the first time,” wrote Pittman. “I arrived at the heavy metal gate, checked the padlock to find that it was in fact locked, read the instructions on a sign for how to get the combination, called the number and was thrilled to actually get a combination that worked to open the lock. I felt fortunate to be a tech savvy, able-bodied, English-speaking park user at that moment. Gates like this will soon be upgraded as part of our countywide Americans with Disabilities Act compliance plan, as they should.”

“As they should” Pittman wrote, but again, nothing has been done – all that is required is just removing these gates.

Homeport Farm Park is just one example of an ADA non-complaint gate at Anne Arundel County Parks

Is it all that’s required though? If gates were to be removed, that might require ranger substations like Pittman has proposed for Greenbury Point.

The reason for these ADA non-compliant gates is because of concerns for vandalism – because the county apparently doesn’t have the personnel, technology or money required to keep an eye on these parks.

Speaking of existing parks, Anne Arundel County leases the old Naval Academy Dairy Farm in Gambrills from the Navy. According to the county’s website, “At this time the Department is not updating the masterplan due to use restrictions in the leases with the Navy.”

And knowing this, the County Executive put in a proposal to lease another park from the Navy who would have control over its use.

Adding Greenbury Point to the county’s list of responsibilities, when it hasn’t taken care of the many park-related issues already in its control, isn’t a financial win for county taxpayers and it’s not a win for those in need of ADA compliant parks and recreational facilities.

This reporter reached out to the County Executive’s office with questions about ADA compliance at county parks and about the lease on the old dairy farm on August 12 – no response has been received.

Corn growing at the old Naval Academy Dairy Farm. Neighbors say it’s leased to an Eastern Shore farmer. It’s not being used by Anne Arundel County taxpayers.

The county recently took possession of the old Crownsville Hospital grounds. This too will require a lot of taxpayer money before the public will be able to use it.

While the timing of Pittman’s proposal might lead some to believe it was prompted by the upcoming election, it did result in the Navy stating the two proposals were no longer being considered.

Naval Support Activity Annapolis press release

After the county executive’s proposal came a press release from NSA Annapolis.

“Greenbury Point is a part of a naval installation and therefore is owned by the Navy,” said Capt. Homer Denius, commanding officer of the installation. “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.”

A lot was covered in the NSA Annapolis press release including wanting people to stay safe, letting people know Greenbury Point belongs to the Navy and the Navy has allowed it to be open to the public – in other words, the Navy can close the property to the public.

And then came this shot across Pittman’s bow.

“We realize that people like to walk, run or hike at Greenbury Point and sometimes it’s an inconvenience when we close the area,” said Denius. “In response, we successfully petitioned the Navy to allocate one million dollars to expand the Quiet Waters Park area and allow more visitors to utilize it. Now, everyone can enjoy a beautiful 340 acre facility operated by the Anne Arundel Recreation and Parks.”

In other words, the Navy helped pay for a new portion of one of Anne Arundel County’s parks. That portion of Quiet Waters Park has also had vandalism, including a fire.

Firefighters at Quiet Waters Park. Photo courtesy of Anne Arundel County Fire Department.

In the NSA Annapolis press release, Denius didn’t mention the Sikes Act, the history of the Greenbury Point being open to the public, that the Senate Appropriations Committee and the community wanted it to be open to the public for perpetuity and he didn’t mention the new golf course proposal by NAGA.

There was a glaring omission in the press release which quoted Zoe Johnson, NSA Annapolis community planning liaison officer, “When we demolished the older facilities in the area, we converted the space for military and DoD civilian personnel recreational use,” said Johnson. “The marina, picnic grounds and guest cottages, currently being built, are for military and DoD civilian personnel use only.”

While this omission might not mean much to some, there are others, who aren’t DOD civilians or in the military, that should know they are allowed to use these morale, welfare and recreation facilities on NSA Annapolis, although that hasn’t always been the case.

expanding-access-fact-sheet

Among the veterans that are able to use MWR facilities, how does one simply forget to mention Purple Heart and Medal of Honor recipients, as well as former prisoners of war?

Ziegler stated, “Military and DoD civilian personnel use only, was not to imply that all other categories of authorized users would not have access.”

Focusing on the Navy’s benevolence in managing the land for conservation and allowing it to be used by the public in the NSA Annapolis press release is noteworthy because that was the intention of the community, the Navy, DOD, the Sikes Act, as well as local and federally elected representatives when Greenbury Point was initially opened to the public.

And yet, here we are.

Where are we?

As Ziegler indicated, “NSA Annapolis is currently evaluating the status and future of Greenbury Point in support of the mission of both the installation and the U.S. Naval Academy.”

Chesapeake Conservancy is asking Congress to protect the land permanently.

The members of the Save Greenbury Point Facebook group continue advocating for no golf course – in that group, some have pointed out that Gladchuk is selling “Save Greenbury Point” hats in his golf store on NSA Annapolis property.

About the hat sales, Ziegler stated, “NSA Annapolis has no comment.”

A call to NAGA’s pro shop on NSA Annapolis to find out if they still had hats in stock and where they’re made resulted in being put on hold by a clerk while he checked – during the wait, the hold music was the “Marines’ Hymn,” which is obviously very patriotic.

Just as the music changed, the clerk said they have two style hats – the ball caps don’t have a tag indicating where they’re made – the other indicates made in China.

If Gladchuk is interested in saving Greenbury Point or even helping the U.S. Navy, selling hats made in China is probably not the way to to do it, nor is plowing down forested areas and taking down any trees, including those “that had grown too big,” for a golf course that will undoubtedly be treated with chemicals that can further harm the Chesapeake Bay.

According to Gladchuk’s interview in Meanwhile in Annapolis back in August, “Gladchuk said the association plans to submit his full proposal in the immediate future – ‘soon’ – and expects the Navy will give it full consideration.”

We know that no other military academy has an association with no DOD oversight running a golf course on DOD land, as is the case at the USNA Golf Course.

This has led to privileges extended to civilians with no affiliation to the DOD/USNA and illegal age restrictions on others, including those who served 20 years or more in the armed forces and who retired with benefits.

This is still being done, according to NAGA’s membership application posted online that enlisted retirees, including those that have received the Purple Heart or Medal of Honor, would still get the impression they can’t join unless they’re 60-years-old – civilians that have never served have no age restrictions and they’re welcomed as they can pay that $22,500 initiation fee.

While NAGA indicated this was a “typo” back in July when they were asked by this reporter about it, it hasn’t been changed on their membership application – meanwhile NAGA had the time to order “Save Greenbury Point” hats.

Illegal age discrimination is quite the “typo,” and while the enlisted ranks might not matter much to Gladchuk, they have mattered quite a lot to the defense of this country, as well as other countries.

As was stated by the USNA, “The Naval Academy does not own the land that is licensed to the Naval Academy Golf Association and was not aware of the membership rule regarding the retired enlisted minimum age.”   

We know the incestuous relationship between the entities involved on Greenbury Point has led to no oversight of Gladchuk or what he does on a property that is supposed to belong to the United States – not to him.

We know that is is 2022 – it’s no longer 50 years ago, when issues related to climate change and sea level rise were barely a blip on the radar.

“There is no time to waste. Climate change is already impacting our Department, our Nation, and the world in significant ways, and the threat will only intensify in the coming decades,” states Navy Climate Action 2030.

We know that natural areas/forests, including those currently managed for conservation on military bases and which are protected by so many environmental laws, do protect against climate change.

“Improving resilience for the city of Annapolis, the Naval Academy, and surrounding communities requires a comprehensive assessment to understand the risks associated with climate change and the potential solutions,,” stated Josh Kurtz, executive director of Chesapeake Bay Foundation Maryland. “The Navy as well as state and local jurisdictions are undertaking those types of assessments now, and the results will inform the necessary response. Developing a golf course at Greenbury Point will limit the potential benefits this natural area can provide to the Naval Academy and surrounding communities. We know wetlands, trees, and established meadows slow down the flow of rain runoff and help filter out pollutants before the runoff reaches local waterways or the Bay. Golf courses, which require very short grass over large areas and significant maintenance that typically includes pesticide and fertilizer applications, do not have the same benefits.”

The Navy knows this.

“Together, we will build upon progress and meet the moment to bolster our climate resilience, reduce our climate impacts, and remain the world’s dominant maritime force,” states Navy Climate Action 2030.

We know that allowing NAGA to remove trees/forests and plow down existing mitigation areas for another golf course that is not mission-critical or mission-related is not bolstering “climate resilience,” it will not “reduce climate impacts” and will not help the Navy in remaining “the world’s most dominant maritime force.”

We’ll continue to stay on this story. Feel free to subscribe at the bottom of this for updates.

Donna L. Cole is an award-winning investigative and multimedia reporter. She’s also a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

For further reading about Greenbury Point

One Reply to “Boasting about removing large trees is par for the course with the Naval Academy Golf Association – delving into the press releases and rhetoric about a second golf course”

  1. Well done, Donna! This is the most comprehensive and well researched articles on the proposed golf course at Greenbury Point that I have read thus far. It is a complicated issue, as you have explained, and your research into all of the aspects is without comparison. Thank you!

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