A November 17 letter from the Partners for Open Space to Governor-Elect Larry Hogan highlighted the importance of Program Open Space (POS) and offered to work with the Governor-Elect to protect POS funding streams and prevent future State diversions of POS funding.
The letter summarized the effects of POS underfunding on its four constituent programs, including local POS:
Years of consistent underfunding of POS have resulted in critical, unmet needs. The [Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation] program currently has more than 150 family farmers who are waiting to preserve their land. The Rural Legacy Program has more than $100 million in requests annually, with an average of less than $17 million available. For Local Side POS, the 23 counties and Baltimore City have identified needs-based priorities, totaling over $1.7 billion, for the development and rehabilitation of park and recreation facilities by 2020, as stipulated in the latest round of county Land Preservation, Parks, and Recreation Plans. Counties have also identified over $500 million in priority needs for land acquisition. For State Side POS, there are over $178 million in high quality ecological, recreational, public access, coastal resilience, and community connections projects in the POS pipeline awaiting funding.