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Volume 16, Issue 4 - January 24 - January 30, 2008


Warming Up on a Bright Idea

Chesapeake Beach’s Water Park is spiffing up for its 14th summer. That’s a comforting piece of news to warm up Chesapeake winter, reminding us that we do indeed have reliable weather in our future that nearly demands we strip down to bare flesh and jump into cool, refreshing water.

Even better news is that the $140,000 restoration — bringing a fancy new iron fence and a better bathhouse — is more than paid for by people who’ve enjoyed the water park.

In days like these, we all — from the mighty state of Maryland to you and us — know where the bills are coming from. Harder to figure out is where we’ll get the money to pay them.

Chesapeake Beach has found a way. Build it and they will come — if what you build happens to satisfy a human craving.

Back in the early 1990s, the water park was a gamble. The town’s long-time mayor and businessman — Gerald Donovan of Rod ’n’ Reel — had a bright idea. Creating the water park, he drew on nostalgia for the town’s past as a place to play and cool off in Maryland’s hot summers. Not everybody liked the idea; nobody could have predicted for certain that the scheme would thrive as a great notion.

Today, we think that credit is due: People swarm to the park, everybody has a good time — and it not only pays its own way but enriches the town with revenue and a claim to fame.

If that’s a cash cow, would that a herd of them comes to graze in Chesapeake Country.

To the north in Annapolis, maybe one is.

This week, Mayor Ellen Moyer went public with a bright idea: a Capital City Arts and Entertainment District. Centered on Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and spreading out for about 100 acres, the state designation would build on a strength the city’s already got. A flourishing community of arts would draw people — builders and artists lured by considerable tax incentives, consumers seeking a good time — and revitalize a neighborhood, outer West Street.

We’ve seen the jolt a popular entertainment district can give to a town. Sometimes, it’s an unsettling jolt, as partying people bring problems of their own. Way back when, that was a complaint against Chesapeake Beach’s Water Park.

Today, nobody knows if Mayor Ellen Moyer’s idea will burn out or flame on as a great notion. But these dark winter days, a bright idea is a good place to warm up.

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