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Annapolis Experience Picture Of The Day – A Former City Utility Services Building And The Use Of Publicly Owned Waterfront Lands – Monday December 31st 2012

Annapolis Maryland Picture of the Day

Picture Of The Former City Of Annapolis Sewage Pumping Station On Shipwright Street In Annapolis Maryland December 31st 2012

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In recent months there have been discussions held in the public arena concerning possible changes to the current policies, exercised by our local government officials, that restricts access to publicly owned waterfront lands in Anne Arundel County. The subject of these discussions centers on making more of these county managed waterfront lands accessible for public usage and this is a topic that has certainly been of interest to me since I first moved to Annapolis years ago.

I can still remember the time years ago when I attended a wedding reception at a county park facility on the South River off of Mayo Road. There I was able to listen to the host of the reception describe the arrangements that they had made with the County Recreation and Parks Department to secure the facilities for that day which in turn got me interested in finding out more about how the pristine beach area at that reception venue was used by the public at large. As it turned out that same beach area where I was a guest at on that summer day was basically closed to the public at all other times – unless one had a permit. It further seemed to me that the more government managed beach and waterfront areas that I would visit over the coming years would solidified my belief that for a county blessed with such an abundant amount of waterfront land, that could conceivably be used by its citizens for nature and recreational pursuits, treated those lands like that of private country club where the public is not welcomed.

Here in Annapolis there supposedly is a rule that says any public road that ends at the waterfront inherently should allow for public access. Of course at a couple of these city street ends someone has gone to great lengths to make them as inaccessible as possible through the use of almost military like stone rip rap fortifications that not even a mountain goat would dare to tread across. I find these public and or governmental departmental policies a bit ironic to say the least considering who actually owns them.

Yes the City park at Horn Point serves as an example of an accessible waterfront area and then there are of course a number of floating docks located on the west side of Spa Creek in the Murray Hill area on street ends where the public can at least tie up a kayak, canoe or even a small dinghy. In terms of launching one well that is certainly another matter.

Standing there this morning at the end of Shipwright Street I thought about the early history of Annapolis, actually the first couple of decades after it had been relocated to the south side of the Severn River, when this particular street served as a maritime thoroughfare that led up from the landing at Todd’s Creek, now Spa Creek, towards the heart of the city via its eventual connection at Duke of Gloucester Street.

While looking at the plot of land that this former City Sewage Pumping Station sits on today I wondered if it might serve for better public land use than simply having it remain as an abandoned brick utility building. Perhaps a small pocket park or even a more accessible boat launch area would be possible at not that great of a cost. Then again I looked back up the street at the private marina and million dollar residences on the left hand side of it, as well as the back entrance way to the Charles Carroll House, and realized that the proper use of publicly owned lands for recreational purposes does not necessarily mean the same thing to everyone.

Individual property rights are one of the fundamental principals on which our nation was founded on well over two centuries ago that is to always be protected however when it comes to the proper use of public lands, managed by local government officials, no citizen should have their right of access to them abridged without a truly open and public discourse having first taken place. This is especially true if they would better serve the public at large as either nature reserves or for recreational usage. Property rights, public land usage and local politics certainly a convergence of crisscrossing currents that can be found here along the waters edge in Annapolis Maryland.

Have a good day and the best to everyone in the New Year,

Glenn

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