Rail to trail becoming a reality in Mount Airy

Frederick News Post
Nancy Hernandez
After two decades of wishful thinking, effort has begun in earnest to create a nature path in the heart of town. The trail will run alongside an abandoned rail line that folklore says played a role in the naming of Mount Airy. As the story goes, railroad workers were chiseling and blasting their way through Parr’s Ridge in the winter of 1839. Their goal was to create a safer and easier route for locomotives to traverse the steep incline. At the time, horses helped pull trains over the ridge using a series of plateaus near where Interstate 70 runs today. The journey was slow and dangerous. So B&O railroad officials decided to create a loop that would pass through a lower elevation. The route crossed directly over Main Street in what is now downtown, between Center Street and Prospect Road. One day, an Irish brakeman complained that due to the constant biting wind blowing on the ridge, the place should be named Mount Airy. The name stuck. The railroad line didn’t. Although passenger service ran until the 1950s, the route was largely abandoned around the 1970s. Today, a hardy group of volunteers are laboring with town officials to reclaim the line and convert it into a nature trail. For now, work is focused on a 1⁄3 mile stretch that connects Watkins Park with Main Street. The hope is to eventually continue the trail so that it runs from Village Oaks Drive to the wastewater treatment plant near the Nottingham and Twin Arch Crossing developments — an estimated distance of 2 1⁄2 miles.

Urbana District Park open for business

Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy
The completed work marks the first phase of construction. Plans call for adding fields, but no timeline for the work has been set. "It's been a long time coming on this," said Bob Hicks, deputy director of parks and recreation for Frederick County. "It's a great achievement for the people of Urbana and the citizens of Frederick County. We are looking forward to it being well used."

Frederick County to study use of private contractors to maintain park

Reorganization leaves five-person crew struggling to maintain historic park
Sherry Greenfield
The Frederick Board of County Commissioners supports a plan to hire private contractors to maintain Rose Hill Manor Park in Frederick.

All creatures great and small

Maryland’s amphibians, reptiles need your eyes, ears
Frederick News Post
Karen Gardner
Turtles, snakes, frogs and toads are the poster species for the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas. But there are others that also need to be recorded. Salamanders and lizards are just as important in the greater ecosystem. Wayne Hildebrand wants to make sure they are all counted.

Frederick County siphons recordation tax revenue from ag land preservation, parks projects

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
County officials decided to buy some wiggle room last week with money previously bound for farm preservation and parks projects. On Nov. 1, four commissioners voted to change the way Frederick County divvies up its recordation tax, which is estimated to generate more than $19 million this fiscal year. The tax is levied when property changes hands and a deed is recorded.