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Volume 16, Issue 42 - October 16 - October 22, 2008
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Committed to the Chesapeake — from here to eternity

Talk about throwing yourself into restoring the Bay. Eight families took that familiar admonition to heart last week, committing the ashes of husbands, wives and sons to final rest in Memorial Stadium Reef Sanctuary, in the upper Bay off Kent Island. Instead of flinging ashes into wind and water —illegal in inland waters and wasteful in the big scheme of things — these Bay restorers crafted reef balls out of cement impregnated with the ashes of their loved ones. They chalked messages on the reef balls, took rubbings of the brass memorial plaques, then boarded boats for formal funerals at sea, three with full military honors including the bugling of Taps.

The families of those to be buried dropped wreaths into the Bay and watched as each reef ball was lowered by crane.

“After all were dropped, these men on workboat, they stood at attention, then all three boats sounded horns to a great many tears,” said Doris Ricketts of St. Leonard, of the burial at sea of her husband Ted, for Theodore, who died in February at age 83 in their 60th year of marriage.

“It was very well planned and so impressive, and to think, these ashes will not disappear,” said Ricketts, a retired registered nurse who was joined by 14 family members for the burial.

That’s the plan conceived by Eternal Reef ( founder Don Brawley, to suit his father-in-law’s dying wishes. By 2001, reef balls, such as Brawley’s Georgia company made, were an increasingly common way of recreating bottom habitat to accommodate underwater life, from microscopic critters to oysters and crabs to fish. But Brawley thinks he’s the first to add cremated human remains to the balls, giving people a concrete way to continue good works in the afterlife.

Eternal Reefs has overseen reef ball burials at sea on reefs as far north as Ocean City New Jersey, as far south as Miami, as far West as South Padre Island, Texas. After the burials, divers continue to monitor the reefs.

Last week’s was a first in the Chesapeake.

Families came from Bel Air, Washington, D.C., Virginia Beach, Philadelphia, North Carolina and Indiana to consign their loved ones to the Chesapeake underwater city growing up on the old concrete of Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, topped by hundreds of reef balls, many made by school children, that contain no human remains.

Twenty-five more Baltimore County kids will build reefs and experience the Bay thanks to this burial, said Penelope Soteria of Chesapeake Bay Memories, whose organization helped transport the families.

Memorial reef balls weigh from 600 to 4,000 pounds and are priced — from creation to emersion — from $2,500 to $6,500.


How pedestrian-friendly is Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole?

Annapolis Towne Centre at Parole’s sneak-preview visitors got a feel of what pedestrian-friendly could mean if Greenberg Gibbbons Commercial had taken the popular term literally in laying out its new lifestyle development in the city’s long-empty 33-acre gateway square bordered by Rt. 2, Forest Drive, West Street and Riva Road.

For the few hours of the VIP opening, people and feet had the streets (only two so far) and center circle as well as the wide sidewalks to themselves. You couldn’t yet go down the grand double stairway leading from P.F. Chang’s to — yes! — a sidewalk all along Rt. 2’s face on the center. But when Chang’s opens next month, you’ll be able to walk that sidewalk till it dead ends. Or the cow jumps over the moon and Rt. 2 gets more sidewalks.

People ambled up and down, back and forth, as if walking were easy and natural. What a change from the typical shopping center, where everybody’s eye is on the closest parking place.

Visiting Target as soon as the cut ribbon let them in, sight-seers and a few shoppers climbed stairs or rode escalators to the third level rather than dodging all those cars looking for that prime up-front parking.

Cars were exiled to perimeter garage parking off Harker Place, the new stop-light-controlled street intersecting Forest Drive. Turn left off Harker into Target’s ground- and second-level parking. Turn right into a garage to be shared with condominiums. Eventually, garages or parking lots will trap cars at all four corners of the mixed-use shopping, service, dining and residential center.

Is this what chairman Erwin L. Greenberg meant in describing a “national model” beyond “that same old strip somewhere that you drive to and drive back”?

Yes and no.

Parking will always be at the center’s perimeter. Shoppers and strollers will find the land flat and distances conveniently walkable with plenty to see — including vertical vistas of moderately tall buildings — and benches to sit a spell en route. It’s clean, too, and promises to stay fresh as opening day, when the bench you sat on might get polished soon as you get up. It’s all pleasant enough that you needn’t bother with a route. Browsing is an end in itself.

But you’ll be sharing the roads with cars. The new Annapolis Towne Centre isn’t that pedestrian friendly.

But it’s shopper friendly — open now as well as Target are Great Gatherings, Coldwater Creek and Lucy Activewear — with more shops opening week by week starting next month.


© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.