ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball was joined by Senator Chris Van Hollen, state and local officials, and community members to celebrate the completion of the purchase agreement for Camp Ilchester. In May, the Howard County Council approved the County Executive’s proposal to include $6 million in the budget to acquire the 21-acre property from the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland (GSCM). Photos of the event can be found here.
Spaces like Camp Ilchester make up the fabric of our community – connecting neighbors and friends and allowing more of our residents’ close access to nature. This sale ensures that Camp Ilchester will always be green space, preserved as part of the Howard County Recreation & Parks system. We will always look to preserve open space, to preserve the legacy of organizations that serve our community, and to be good stewards of our land and our future.
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 region. Potential uses of the Camp could include sports programs, outdoor adventure camps, active aging activity and a nature center with nature-based educational programming.
The acquisition of Camp Ilchester will help advance the High School #14 project, which will be located at Troy Park in Elkridge following County Executive Ball’s announcement in October 2020. Under State law, the use of park land purchased with funding from the State’s Program Open Space fund for a non-park purpose requires a local jurisdiction to convert an equivalent acreage of land to park or open space. Pending approval by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the purchase of Camp Ilchester could provide several acres of land eligible to offset the conversion of the portions of Troy Park, in Elkridge purchased with Program Open Space funding for High School #14.
“For generations Maryland families have enjoyed Camp Ilchester. That’s why we worked together to preserve this green space and ensure it remains open to the public,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This effort took creative thinking and teamwork from all levels of government, the local community, and the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland to preserve this beautiful place for today and for future generations. I’m glad we were able to secure this important victory for Marylanders.”
“Camp Ilchester is a wonderful, beautiful outdoor classroom for our young people,” said Congressman John Sarbanes. “I know that because the efforts to preserve it and the leadership that’s been exercised here that it is going to be that fantastic opportunity for the next generation to learn about the outdoors and be stewards of our environment.”
“We heard you loud and clear, we were not going to let this land get developed,” said State Senator Katie Fry Hester. “We recognized what a beautiful place this was and how the Girl Scouts could benefit, and Camp Ilchester could be saved. Teamwork is really what made this happen.”
“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,” said Delegate Courtney Watson. “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.”
“We have so much to celebrate today - this special place that will be preserved, that you ladies will take your own daughters and say we did this,” said Councilmember Liz Walsh, District 1. “We did this with our moms and our counselors, and only because of the nimbleness, the responsiveness, the leadership at every level of government.”
The Camp Ilchester purchase continues 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 due to a budget shortfall. Last 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.
“I want to thank the girl scouts, our volunteers, all those past and present, who have really gotten us to this point,” said GSCM CEO Violet Apple. “Camp Ilchester is in safe hands, and it will remain green.”
“On behalf of the Board of Girls Scouts of Central Maryland – we made it! Now we get to share Camp Ilchester with other members of the community,” said GSCM Board Chair Julie Lenzer.