ROCKVILLE — Opponents of a county plan to turn an organic farm into soccer fields rallied across the street from Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s office in Rockville on Wednesday.
Nick Maravell, a Potomac farmer who has grown crops on land located off Old Brickyard Road for three decades, has been battling the county because his lease to farm the land has not been renewed.
County officials want to put pay-for-play soccer fields at the site to help remedy what it sees as a shortage of fields in the county.
On Wednesday, supporters dropped off petitions with more than 40,000 signatures to the county executive’s office.
“We just want to continue the dialogue to see if there are ways for everyone to come out a winner on this, to fully air the concerns that have been made,” Maravell said.
He said he was proud of the amount of support his farm has received. “It’s a humbling experience to know that the issues I’ve been working on for over three decades…have garnered so much popular concern,” he said.
A representative from Leggett’s office received the signatures, and said the county executive would listen to their concerns.
Over the years, Maravell has developed organic soil at the property. “Soil is alive. It’s a living organism. It’s not something that can just be replaced. To pave over that is almost akin to criminal,” said Annita Seckinger, a supporter.
County spokesperson Patrick Lacefield said the county executive remains committed to making certain the land is used for public purposes. As for all the signatures, Lacefield said, “Most of what we’re hearing is from people outside of the county who don’t know the full story.”
The supporters believe that is a good thing. This seems like a local issue, but it’s a global issue. We need to preserve our organic farms and soils,” Seckinger said.
Maravell has filed a lawsuit to try to stay on the land, and a court date is scheduled for Dec. 15.