This transformational purchase will create a path for preserving the property as green space

ELLICOTT CITY – After months of negotiations, County Executive Calvin Ball announced today that he has offered $6 million to purchase Camp Ilchester from the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland (GSCM). The $6 million offer is highly competitive based on the appraised value of the 20.73-acre camp, with four appraisals conducted over the past several months estimating the value of the property between $4 million and $6.2 million. 

Promoting green infrastructure and preserving open space are important priorities to protect our environment for generations to come. Through this significant offer, we are moving forward on our promise to preserve land for environmental and agricultural purposes, and we look forward to working with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland to make this a reality.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

If County Executive Ball can reach an agreement with GSCM, the County will pursue County Council approval of an Installment Purchase Agreement to secure Camp Ilchester, providing $700,000 of the purchase price at settlement and the $5.3 million balance in Fiscal Year 2023.

"I'm so excited to finally see this offer be formalized," said Senator Hester. "As a mom and lifelong environmentalist, providing opportunities for our kids to experience outdoor education is extremely important to me – if accepted, this offer 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."

“It would be excruciating to lose this treasured space to a developer,” said Delegate Watson. “My goal is for this land to remain green space that future generations can enjoy”.

If acquired, the County will preserve Camp Ilchester as green space, keeping a potential 40 developable lots 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.

Additionally, the potential County acquisition of Camp Ilchester could help advance the High School #14 project, which will be located at Troy Park, in Elkridge following County Executive Ball’s announcement last October. The purchase of Camp Ilchester could provide several acres of land potentially eligible to offset the conversion of the portions of Troy Park, in Elkridge purchased with Program Open Space funding for High School #14. 

Today’s offer follows months of negotiation with GSCM to preserve the existing green space at Camp Ilchester. On March 30th, the GSCM’s Board of Directors announced their recommendation to find a buyer for Camp Ilchester and focus resources gained from a potential sale on Camp Woodlands in Anne Arundel County.

The County began to conduct due diligence on the property starting in April, securing two appraisals of the property, with County Executive Ball engaging in high level discussions with GSCM related to the preservation of the property. On May 12th, GSCM received approval from their Board of Directors to officially pursue the sale of Camp Ilchester, with the Board committing to pursue discussions with groups interested in preserving the property as green space prior to soliciting bids from developers. 

Following ongoing discussions throughout the summer, GSCM announced in August that they were initiating a formal process to solicit bids from entities interested in purchasing Camp Ilchester. The County submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) to GSCM on August 27th. Proposals were evaluated at the September 23rd GSCM Board of Directors meeting. Discussions have continued following the Board’s formal bid evaluation process, leading to the County’s $6 million offer to purchase the property today.

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. Last December, 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. 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 Dickey Farm, there are five additional properties in the acquisition pipeline, totaling nearly 300 acres. 

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