July 5, 2020
A new issue has raised its head in the city by some claiming that Annapolitans have no access to the city’s many creeks. The issue was raised by Alderman DaJuan Gay when he and friends visited a pier on private property. As a result of Alderman Gay’s claim of limited water access, Alderman Savage is considering legislation that would require private development to provide public access to the waterfront.
In fact, Annapolis has many places of access to the water that surrounds us. Streets that end at the water are public property and provide opportunities for water access. I was pleased to promote street end parks and negotiate for funds to make them happen as First Lady of Annapolis in the 1960’s. Old farms on the Eastport peninsula sold 60 plus years ago were developed into apartments and townhouses. Unlike street ends, these parcels were private property.
Under the administration of Roger “Pip” Moyer, the City of Annapolis began a program of street-end parks to provide access to our water. Under then-City Engineer Bill Jackson and with support from state funds and a University of Md. program, the city created public water access at its public streets that ended at creek side. The first park was at Monticello Ave in Ward 1. Amos Garrett in Ward 1 and Chesapeake Ave. in Eastport (once popular with sail boarders) followed. Today there are no less than 17 public street end parks that provide access to the water. The city also has a rare public urban land trust, a tool for water and critical area protection, (unfortunately currently seldom used) that, however, protects approximately 200 acres in small open space protected parcels.
St Luke’s Church, off Chesapeake Ave., has a woodland walking trail that ends at the water as does the Children’s Museum in Truxtun Heights. Additionally, the Annapolis Maritime Museum on Second Street at Back Creek, the Ellen O. Moyer Nature Park at Back Creek, Truxtun Park on Spa Creek, and Tucker Street on Weems Creek (approximately 100 acres of public recreation parkland) provide boat launching sites.
HACA has waterfront property fronting on Hawkins Cove and the city owns a strip of public property along College Creek at Bloomsbury and off Clay Street. HACA has resources it could develop in cooperation with the City to increase water access for its residents on site if it chose.
In more recent times there had been discussion with Speaker Busch to open the state property along College Creek for a park which would increase water access. And, of course, there is the whole City Dock where residents and visitors can enjoy a summer concert or gather for the Lights Parade.
To suggest that the city is barren of water access is simply not true. I guess it is how one defines access. We do not have a waterfront connected walking trail as one finds in Bar Harbor, Maine, but over the years the city has utilized its public property (and even purchased waterfront property) to provide water access for sitting and reading or enjoying a carry out lunch, for walking, for launching a small craft or as a tie up area for those coming off boats anchored in the creeks and harbor.
Yes, there is private access in neighborhood developments on what was once farm property along the Eastport peninsula. But public access to our creeks far outweighs private access. Why not celebrate what we have and move on, where opportunity beckons, to enhance our public resources for increased water access?
–Ellen Moyer, once named “the mother of the street end parks”