By Luke Broadwater
The Hogan administration said Tuesday night that the Maryland governor is pressing forward with plans for a hotly debated parkland swap -- but without any inclusion of a new stadium for the NFL's Washington Redskins.
"We are not continuing discussions with the Redskins regarding this site at this time, however we are moving full steam ahead with acquiring state control of the Maryland Gateway in Prince George's County from the federal government," Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Gov. Larry Hogan, said in a statement. "We believe this site holds significant potential benefits for the region and the state, as does the proposal to expand protected federal parkland in Western Maryland."
Chasse's comments were the strongest statement to date that Maryland's Republican governor has backed off his desire for a new stadium for the football team on parkland in Prince George's County.
Amid the mounting criticism, Hogan last month began softening his stance on seeking a Redskins stadium at Oxon Cove Park. In December, he touted the potential of the park site for the football team, but in January he said he didn't much care whether the team ultimately relocates there.
"Whether or not it's ever going to be a stadium, I don't know," Hogan said. "That's up to the people in the area to decide. Doesn't really matter to me one way or the other." Nevertheless, Hogan said, "we want to get control of that property."
Hogan has been pushing a parkland swap with federal officials. He proposes that Maryland get federal property at the 512-acre Oxon Cove Park. The state would turn over approximately 2,481 acres located in South Mountain State Battlefield, Gathland State Park, and surrounding areas in Frederick and Washington counties along the state's portion of the Appalachian Trail for a battlefield monument federal officials want to create there.
Hogan signed a memorandum of understanding in 2017 with the U.S. Department of the Interior for a potential land swap -- the details of which were kept confidential until the document was released in December in response to public information requests.
Both ends of the land swap have attracted criticism from lawmakers and preservationists.
But Chasse said Hogan believes the Oxon Cove site is underused and a prime spot for development.
"As the governor has consistently said, it is truly the gateway to Maryland and has clear economic development potential, tourism and recreational uses, and historic value," she said. "We are working closely with our federal partners to finalize the transfer."
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