Volume 12, Issue 27 ~ July 1-7, 2004
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Dock of the Bay

Reinventing Annapolis’ Newman Street Park
They unpaved a parking lot to put up some paradise

Stroll downtown Annapolis this fall and you’ll encounter a drastically changed acre of land. Newman Street Park has always been there, a somewhat dingy urban park with too much asphalt, a rusty chain-link fence and a crowd of uninviting benches.

All that’s about to change.

Annapolis Rotary, working with the city of Annapolis, has redesigned Newman Street Park, located on the corner of Compromise and Newman streets, next to the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre and the Green Street parking lot.

“The old park was in quite poor condition,” lamented director of Annapolis Recreation and Parks LeeAnn Plumer. “It was built on an old parking lot.”

Park renovations will include a rain garden, fresh landscaping, up-to-date playground equipment, an inviting brick walkway in sync with City Dock, two sitting walls, new rust-resistant fencing for the basketball court, new park benches and new drinking fountains.

“The project reflects the historic and maritime influences of the area,” said Plumer. “We’re looking at creating more open spaces where people can meet for lunch.”

The first phase of remodeling — a new playground compliant with National Playground Safety standards — was completed last fall. The new playground structures, beige with dark green accents, were designed for specific age groups of children. Children ages three to five will enjoy the smaller structure, only five steps off the ground with short slides and a small tube for climbing through. Older kids — ages six to 12 — will seek out the taller and more challenging structure to scale a short faux-rock wall or walk up the handicap-accessible ramp, slip down a number of curvy slides or swing from loop-like monkey bars. Children are already playing on Newman Park’s new playground.

The second phase, the park’s front — facing the Fleet Reserve Club and Fawcett Boat Supply — will be completed this fall. After hiring a contractor, Annapolis Recreation and Parks anticipates a brand- new park within 60 to 90 days.

The rain garden’s design, created by Rotary member Alice Neily Mutch of BaySmart Gardening, calls for 53 species of native plants, including five types of ferns, an array of flowers, bushes such as bayberry and spicebush and spring bulbs like narcissus and Jack in the pulpit.

To interest kids, Mutch says, she “included plants with interesting names such as ‘bee balm’ and ‘lizard’s tail.’” The planned garden also combines plants that require full sun, partial shade and full shade as well as plants that require very wet soil, moist-to-wet soil and well-drained soil. Homeowners will find at this park native plants that will grow in their own yards regardless of their shade and moisture.

“I made an effort to choose attractive native plants that homeowners can use in their own yards,” said Mutch, who hopes that the foliage will serve as a model for other rain gardens in the county.

Not only will Annapolis Rotary’s new garden enhance aesthetics, the plants will serve as a bioretention area, absorbing rainwater runoff from roads and nearby parking lots.

As water streams off paved surfaces, it heads for the Bay. The rain garden’s water-loving plants will soak up much of this water before a drainage system takes care of the excess water. In this way rain gardens help minimize runoff, and its pollution, into waterways.

Installing this rain garden by hand is Annapolis Rotary, one of 16,000 Rotary clubs nationwide undertaking a centennial project in honor of Rotary International’s 100th anniversary. For this big anniversary, Rotary International asked each club to initiate a project that would be a visible and permanent manifestation of Rotary in the community. Hence the Newman Park garden and park renovation.

“More than something just to fund,” said Ron Baradel, Annapolis Rotary’s new president as of July 1, “we wanted hands-on participation by our members.”

Last fall, the group set out to discover what projects would benefit area organizations as well as meet Rotary’s goals for the centennial project.

The 160-member Annapolis group opted to reinvent Newman Street Park because it “seemed to have the widest appeal,” said Baradel. “Its central location will benefit tourists and natives alike.”

In addition to financially supporting the park with $50,000 for materials and by supplying workers to plant the garden, Annapolis Rotary will maintain the park’s garden every three months — weeding, pruning or tackling whatever the season demands.

A price tag of $270,000 means that the park’s funding will be a patchwork of contributions. With the city of Annapolis and Maryland State Program Open Space each covering $100,000, Annapolis Rotary itself will give $50,000. A $5,000 contribution from Annapolis Elementary’s Parent Teacher Association and a $15,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation make up the remainder.

Funds for the park are also raised through selling prints of “Annapolis Traditions,” a painting chock-full of earthy reds, bright blues and grassy greens by local artist Carol Dyer. In this painting, Dyer depicts Newman Street Park as an idyllic early 20th century Annapolis setting.

“The work embraces all of Annapolis’ traditions in one piece,” said Cynthia McBride, owner of McBride Gallery, where the prints are on sale.

“Annapolis Traditions” shows Newman Street Park with a large playground, croquet match and basketball hoop, flanked by Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre and Annapolis Elementary School. The capitol building graces the skyline, and a sailboat named Pride of Annapolis with Rotary Feast sails glides by in the foreground.

McBride describes the painting as “a happy, whimsical folkart piece — a perfect match for a park for children.”

Carol Dyer’s Annapolis Traditions prints: $100-$350 at McBride Gallery: 410-267-7077.

—Carrie Steele

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Giant Seahorse Swims Away
Students’ statue heisted in broad daylight

The herd of flamboyant six-by-four-foot seahorses roaming Calvert County has lost one of its colts.
Starfish turned up missing June 25.

A wrangler inspecting Calvert’s herd of 25 came up short at Adam’s Ribs in Prince Frederick.

“It had to be at least two people just because of how heavy and awkward they are,” said Stacey Hann-Ruff of how the rustling was managed. Hann-Ruff, director of Annmarie Garden, coordinates Calvert County’s 350th anniversary public art project Seahorses on the Bay.

Hann-Ruff called the sheriff; now Calvert County police are searching for the 68-pound seahorse.

In broad daylight, sometime between 6am and 3pm, the thieves stripped the bolts that held the seahorse to its 400-pound cement base.

Except that it’s missing, “there’s no known damage to the seahorse at this time,” said Deputy Chip Allen at the Calvert County Sheriff’s office.

The seahorses were well secured on their pedestals to prevent just such foul play.

“It would have been very difficult for someone to steal them,” said Sue Apple, chair of Seahorses by the Bay. The art bandits most likely used Route 2-4 for their getaway.

As Bay Weekly went to press, the sheriff had not corralled the seahorse-nappers. “All deputies have been briefed, and they know what they’re looking for,” said Allen.

“We’re going to offer a reward,” said Hann-Ruff, although the amount remains undetermined.

Each seahorse along the Bay was molded at Calvert Marine Museum and designed and decorated by students in Calvert County schools. The art project was planned in conjunction with Calvert’s 350th birthday. Opening the anniversary celebration, Seahorses by the Bay unveiled the vibrant statues before dispersing them to the lawns of county businesses, libraries, fire stations, schools and public areas for display.

To follow the herd yourself, visit the interactive map and scavenger hunt at www.annmariegarden.org. Complete the 25 matching trivia questions on the way, and you’re eligible for a seahorse prize.

Calvert Middle School students painted Starfish in the brilliant blues and swirling yellows of Van Gogh’s “Starry, Starry Night.” It was a one-of-a-kind giant sculpture.

Most of these original seahorse statues will be auctioned off at Annmarie Garden’s annual Halloween event on October 30 to benefit Calvert County art students.

“The thieves literally stole from Calvert County children,” lamented Apple.

Aside from representing months of students’ hard work, Starfish would bring in “a couple thousand dollars for student art programs,” said Hann-Ruff, at the auction.

In the meantime, Seahorses by the Bay and Calvert seahorse fans wait anxiously for Starfish’s safe return.

“To protect the rest of the 24,” said Apple, “We need the community to be on alert.”

If you have information about the disappearance of Starfish or suspicious behavior around any of the seahorses, contact Mike Moore at the Calvert County Sheriff’s office: 410-535-1600 x 2454 or 410-535-2800.

—Carrie Steele

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Ask the Plant Professor
Who Dunnit and Izzit?

Q I found an insect that looks like a cicada, except slightly smaller and white with black dots. Is this a freak cicada?

A You probably saw the great leopard moth, Ecpantheria scribonia, commonly found throughout the southeastern United States. The adults are often seen on the side of buildings lighted at night. The immature stage is a black bristly caterpillar with red bands that become very visible when it rolls into a protective ball. Look closer, and you’ll see the adult moth is strikingly beautiful, with white wings dotted with black circles and an iridescent blue abdomen.

Q Why are two of our plants losing perfectly circular chunks of leaf about one-half inch in diameter removed from the edges of leaves? The plants are a redbud and a hazelnut.

A The type of cutting and the diverse nature of the target plants suggest the activity of leaf-cutting bees. The female snips out these circular pieces to form thimble-shaped cells in either an earthen nest or a suitable log or stump. The damage is not significant to the plants.

Ask the Plant and Pest Professor is compiled from questions sent to the website of the Home and Garden Information Center, part of Maryland Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland. Ask a home gardening or pest control question and find other help: 800-342-2507 (Mon.-Fri. 8am-1pm) • www.hgic.umd.edu.

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Way Downstream …

In Virginia, the season’s first suspected algae bloom closed four miles of Potomac River shoreline at Colonial Beach. No-swimming signs went up June 25 during tests on the potentially toxic blue-green waters that town manager Brian Hooten described to the Associated Press as looking “like dried paint on the sand and paint out in the water”…

In Germany, screaming people fled the Berlin Zoo last week for a reason: Bokito, a full-grown gorilla who stands six feet six inches tall in stocking feet had escaped from his cage and roamed the grounds. It was unclear what the big fella had in mind, but two zookeepers nearly his size finally put the arm on Bokito and marched him back to his cage, Reuters reports…

In Tibet, the Dalai Lama’s appeal to KFC must have worked. After Tibet’s spiritual leader and No. 1 vegetarian complained, the Kentucky-based finger-lickin’ chicken chain decided not to open an outlet in Tibet, saying it was “not economically feasible. The company has over 1,000 stores in China, where the menu includes a chicken wrap with onions and special sauce…

Our Creature Feature this week will delight those who taunt the French. During most of June around the southern city of Marseilles, police dispatched armed parties in search of a black panther reported roaming near tourist haunts.

Gendarmes finally caught up with the beast — only to determine that it was a house cat, a pet estimated at two feet long and over 20 pounds. But they couldn’t be sure of its size because, try as they might, the French couldn’t nab the frightening feline.

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