(Nov. 21,2014) After a misfire in March, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program has a signed memorandum of understanding with the county for the operation of Grey’s Creek Nature Park.
The park is a 517-acre parcel located in the extreme northeast corner of Worcester County overlooking Assawoman Bay and just a hair south of the Delaware line. It was purchased in 2006 for $6.5 million.
Up until this memorandum of understanding was signed, according to the minutes of the March 18, 2014 meeting, the county’s only actions with this property since its purchase have been mowing grass. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources installed a living shoreline within the park.
Dave Wilson and Bill Mahoney of the Coastal Bays presented the foundation’s plan for the property during the March 18 meeting. It included plans for the site as a passive park, with forested trails, wetland restoration, parking and a kayak launch.
Mahoney said grant funding would be used to make the improvements.
The proposed memorandum was defeated 3-3 according to the minutes, with County Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw opposed, explaining he would prefer to consider the requests after reviewing formal plans, despite comments from both Wilson and County Attorney Sonny Bloxom detailing that this was already the case.
Commissioner Jim Bunting was opposed because, according to the minutes, he questioned the purchase of the property as well as having a dislike of pavers proposed for the parking area. No reason was given in the minutes for Commissioner Gulyas’ opposition.
Speaking in favor of the project, Commissioner President J. Bud Church said he saw “no reason” to not support the project with Commissioner Judy Boggs agreeing. No reason was given for Commissioner Virgil Shockley’s support. Commissioner Jim Purnell was absent from the proceedings.
The updated plan removed the kayak launch, added provisions for additional ingress and egress from the site, proposed a citizen council to help advise on further improvements and promised to study limited hunting arrangements on the property. Coastal Bays also promised to keep the public from travelling through Hidden Harbor.
The commissioners unanimously decided to adopt the memorandum of understanding.