Editorial (personal opinion): WNAV’s property should be a park – how that happens wouldn’t just be up to Pat Sajak

The property that WNAV Radio is on should be a park – that would take effort by the city of Annapolis, WNAV’s surrounding neighbors in Admiral Heights, a land/preservation trust organization and/or Pat Sajak.

The property has been the summer home of two ospreys, which were given the names Chesapeake and Cherry Blossom in a WNAV contest. From their nest several other ospreys were born, raised and then fledged over the years.

Osprey at WNAV

A gray fox, not common in the area, was seen foraging on WNAV’s property more than once. I’ve not seen a gray fox anywhere before or since.

Gray fox behind WNAV

There was lots of other wildlife too at WNAV – wildlife thrives because of green space, not for lack of it.

It’s not just about wildlife though.

Kids played on and traveled across WNAV’s property. They arrived on foot, bicycles and yes, ATVs too. Should they have been on private property with broadcasting equipment that could be dangerous to them? No, but it happened often.

For the neighbors directly across Admiral Drive from WNAV, there are no other open/green spaces within a quick walk.

This is not an uncommon issue.

According to a 2020 article in The Guardian, “Years of patchy investment in public parks has left 100 million Americans, including 27 million children, without access to decent nearby green spaces during the coronavirus lockdown, a new report reveals.”

That report The Guardian referred to was the annual parks score index from the the Trust for Public Land – you can see their newest here.

Back to what is and isn’t near WNAV, there are ball fields farther away, as well as Poplar Trail. But a park with a playground and acres of green space? Not yet. It’s an opportunity now and one that won’t wait forever for the community to act.

A park would provide a place to recreate, play and gather – one people could walk to, one in their own neighborhood and one with a lot of green space. It’s needed.

According to a 2021 opinion column about Maryland state parks in The Capital Gazette, “Last year, 21.5 million visitors sought refuge in state parks — a 45% increase from 14.9 million in 2019. Thousands more were turned away with a record 292 closures due to overcrowding and lack of staffing. These turn aways were nearly triple the number in 2019 (101) at 15 state parks.”

The benefits (health and otherwise) of open/green spaces are many and well-documented – parks can make us and our property values healthier.

WNAV’s 7.48 acre property is listed for sale for $2.6 million.

How could it be purchased for a park?

There is Program Open Space funding from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and it’s helped to pay for plenty of other parks. That would have to be initiated by the city of Annapolis.

There are other park funding sources – grants and yes, crowdsourcing. The city of Baltimore just got a new public park (Hillside Park) which reportedly is, ” the first of its size in more than a century.”

How were the funds acquired for the Hillside Park? By asking for it.

According to the press release, “Over 70% of the acquisition funds have been raised from over 500 donors representing 25 Baltimore City communities, 26 different neighborhoods from Maryland and 16 states. A robust campaign is underway to raise the balance.

There’s something else that happened with Hillside Park. The seller, Baltimore Country Club, was asked by Roland Park Community Foundation (RPCF) if they would work with the foundation on a possible purchase of the $9 million property.

Mary Page Michel, chairperson of the RPCF, said  “When BCC decided to sell the land, I asked if the community could be included.  Marty Brunk, the club president, said they would welcome a bid from us, and he kept his word, which we really appreciated.”

There are also land/preservation trust organizations that could be involved, but their ask would have to go to the seller.

To my knowledge, no one from the city of Annapolis, Admiral Heights Home Owners Association or any other organization have indicated they’ve asked Pat Sajak for any consideration with the sale of WNAV’s property.

Let’s not forget that Pat and his wife, Lesly, have been very benevolent in this community – their names are on the hospital for good reason. Lesly is on the SPCA of Anne Arundel County Board of Directors.

Would they help with this idea? I have no idea, but it never hurts to ask. These are two people that seem to care a lot about this community.

Regardless of seller assistance, a park is still a possibility with other funding options.

This is the time for the community and the elected officials of Annapolis to act. Once the property is sold and developed, it’s too late.

Donna L. Cole is an award-winning multimedia and investigative reporter. She worked at WNAV from 2015 to 2021. She’s also a volunteer bird of prey rescuer.

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