ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced an agreement to purchase the nearly 21-acre Camp Ilchester in Ellicott City and to preserve it as open space as part of the county’s parks and recreation system.
Executive Ball announced the signing of a letter of intent to complete the sale from the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland for $6 million, subject to an approved appropriation by the Howard County Council. Ball included $6 million for the purchase in his proposed Fiscal Year 2023 capital budget, which is scheduled to be voted on by the County Council on May 25th. Photos of the event can be found here.
When the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland announced they were looking to sell Camp Ilchester last April, we knew we had to act. We had to make sure that our County didn’t lose this important piece of green space and valuable community resource that allows Howard County families to experience all that nature has to offer. I am thrilled that we have reached this important milestone to preserve Camp Ilchester as open space for present and future generations to enjoy.
The letter of intent states that the property will no longer be marketed for sale and lists the steps for final sale. Howard County intends to preserve Camp Ilchester as green space, keeping up to 105 housing units out of the development pipeline and utilizing the property to expand recreational program offerings to residents across the County and State. Potential uses of the Camp could include sports programs, outdoor adventure camps, active aging activity and a nature center with nature-based educational programming.
Today's announcement is a great step towards preserving more green space in Howard County," said Senator Guy Guzzone. "The advocacy of our community, and collaboration of state and local officials made it possible for Camp Ilchester to provide many years of outdoor recreation for our residents."
"I'm so excited to finally see Howard County's offer accepted to preserve Camp Ilchester," said Senator Katie Fry Hester. "As a mom and lifelong environmentalist, providing opportunities for our kids to experience outdoor education is extremely important to me – if approved by the County Council, this will allow us to preserve nearly 21 acres of green space for the local community. This is a win-win-win for our kids, our community, and our environment."
Added Delegate Courtney Watson: “We all know that this is a treasured piece of land. If not a girl scout camp, it is the perfect place for a neighborhood park. In a county with many needs, this $6 million could have been spent elsewhere, but County Executive Ball is wisely investing this money on Ilchester Road in Ellicott City, and therefore this land will be preserved for future generations.”
“This is such a good day! I want to thank the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, community advocates, and our elected officials, particularly Dr. Calvin Ball, State Delegate Courtney Watson, and State Senator Katie Fry Hester,” said Howard County Councilmember Liz Walsh. “Preserving this special green space is so important to so many of us. We are grateful that Camp Ilchester’s branches, leaves, and critters will all keep their homes and keep District 1 wonderful.”
“The County’s offer includes a fair price and a commitment to sustain the land as green space, which will allow the land to be enjoyed for generations to come,” said Julie Lenzer, Chair of the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland’s Camp Ilchester committee and board member.
“We are appreciative of the intent of this offer as we move forward in good faith to formally agree upon a purchase agreement,” said Violet Apple, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. “This potential sale allows our Council to work toward the long-term sustainability of the Council by strengthening our overall programming for the next 25 years.”
The acquisition of Camp Ilchester would continue the Ball Administration’s efforts to preserve land for environmental and agricultural purposes throughout the County where appropriate. In December 2020, County Executive Ball closed on the Savage remainder property, acquiring the five-acre parcel located to the west of Savage Mill for $1.75 million and preserving the property for outdoor recreation and open space. Noteworthy for its environmental significance as a State of Maryland designated Targeted Ecological Area, the Savage remainder parcel had been the target of proposed development since 2013, transitioning through iterations ranging from 15 units per acre to a maximum of 35 units.
County Executive Ball also re-opened the Agricultural Land Preservation Program (ALPP) in June 2019 after the program was shut down by the previous administration. In November, County Executive Ball announced the addition of the 128-acre Dickey Farm to ALPP, preserving the largest remaining farm in the rural west of Howard County and marking one of the largest single additions to agricultural preservation in over a decade. Including the Dickey Farm, ALPP easements on seven properties have been or are expected to be acquired, totaling over 300 acres preserved during the Ball Administration.