New Del. trail moves eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity closer for Ches. City

Con­nects town to Delaware City

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - 174TH YEAR,132ND IS­SUE By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— About 17 miles away from the Ch­e­sa­peake City trail­head, Delaware City and state of­fi­cials cel­e­brated the open­ing of their own trail, which will soon di­rectly con­nect the two mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and po­ten­tially their tourism in­dus­tries.

With sev­eral dozen avid bi­cy­clists watch­ing, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware

DELAWARE CITY, DEL.

City Mayor Stan­ley Green and nu­mer­ous more of­fi­cials cut the rib­bon on the Delaware City Branch Canal Trail — the pre­vi­ously last re­main­ing un-pass­able seg­ment of the C&D Canal trail that runs from Ch­e­sa­peake City’s north side to its east­ern sis­ter mu­nic­i­pal­ity in Delaware. A roughly 2-mile stretch of the Michael Cas­tle Trail in Delaware will be paved by mid-Au­gust, but is cur­rently pass­able to trail users.

Markell, who is an avid bi­cy­clist and a vis­i­ble pro­po­nent of the growth of cy­cling ameni­ties through­out Delaware, thanked the state leg­is­la­tors, De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­trol, U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Com­mu­nity In­vest­ment Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil who helped se­cure the fund­ing for the branch trail. He also an­nounced the planned ex­pan­sion of a trail sys­tem from the river­front in Wilm­ing­ton, Del., to New Cas­tle, Del., which will link into the seg­ment opened in Delaware City.

“Right now, to ride your

bike from Wilm­ing­ton to New Cas­tle is not a very pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence. But when (the new trail) is open, you’ll be able to get there with­out deal­ing with any cars. From there, you can ride from New Cas­tle to Delaware City on Route 9, where there are a few cars. And from here you can ride to Ch­e­sa­peake City,” he said, draw­ing ap­plause from the crowd of cy­clists. “This fits into all the kinds of things we’re try­ing to do in re­duc­ing obe­sity, get­ting kids out­side away from their screens where they spend so much time, bring fam­i­lies to­gether for healthy ac­tiv­i­ties, mak­ing it more likely that more busi­nesses are go­ing to want to lo­cate nearby be­cause their em­ploy­ees will have amaz­ing ameni­ties out­side, etc.”

Delaware City Mayor Stan­ley Green said that Wed­nes­day was “a snapshot in time to a hum­bling be­gin­ning of

Delaware City and its cur­rent sta­tus as a place to be and live.” He lauded the public health and tourism ben­e­fits that the trail con­nec­tion will bring to his city.

For Carla Min­ers, the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor for Ch­e­sa­peake City, the im­pact of the trail on her town has been ob­vi­ous: she lives on Bank Street where many cy­clists pass on their way from the Ben Cardin Recre­ational Trail trail­head to Schae­fer’s Canal House.

“The im­pact has been great; there have been so many peo­ple out on the trail en­joy­ing it,” she said of the 1.8-mile Maryland stretch that opened last sum­mer. “There’s a bik­ing group that goes to Schae­fer’s ev­ery Wed­nes­day. We can’t keep the trail brochures in town be­cause peo­ple pick them up so quick.”

With the con­nec­tion com­pleted to Delaware City, Min­ers said she planned to ex­ploit the full re­source in fu­ture mar­ket­ing. She will soon match up with her Delaware col­leagues to as­sem­ble a guide to each mu-

nic­i­pal­ity, high­light­ing the busi­nesses and re­sources avail­able to vis­i­tors at each. She also said the town is try­ing to help a prospec­tive busi­ness owner launch a bistro and bi­cy­cle re­pair shop in town to tap into the grow­ing mar­ket.

At the top of her to-do list, how­ever, is to se­cure a new ferry ser­vice, be­cause the re­tire­ment of the Miss Clare has left the town’s his­toric busi­ness district vir­tu­ally cut off from the north side trail­head. Some south-side busi­nesses, such as the Inn at the Canal bed-and-break­fast, at­tract bi­cy­clists but then must drive them over the Ch­e­sa­peake City Bridge to the canal trail.

Paul Mor­rill, a for­mer Delaware City city man­ager who was in­volved in the early plan­ning for his city’s trail, said he was thrilled to see vis­i­tors us­ing the Delaware City Branch Canal Trail even be­fore it was of­fi­cially opened.

Mor­rill said he “ab­so­lutely” thought that both Delaware City and Ch­e­sa­peake City will see a big im­pact

from the com­pleted trail’s open­ing.

“I think it will help both towns,” he said, not­ing he’s rid­den the ma­jor­ity of the Delaware side of trail but plans to ride to Maryland when the paving is fin­ished. “We al­ways thought con­nect­ing the two towns would be su­per for both. It will draw peo­ple be­cause they’ll come just for the trail. There aren’t that many off-road with such a great view of the ships pass­ing through the canal and such.”

Mean­while, Bar­bara Peck, an avid rider of the canal trail from Elk­ton, said she heard about the rib­bon cut­ting from word of mouth and wanted to see the open­ing first­hand Wed­nes­day. She said she started riding the canal trail in 2012 when Delaware opened its first seg­ment.

Peck said she has al­ways en­joyed ex­er­cis­ing out­doors, but knee prob­lems forced her to switch from run­ning to cy­cling about 10 years ago. For years, Peck rode on south­ern Ce­cil County roads along with friends and fam- ily, but de­cided that it was grow­ing too danger­ous to con­tinue.

“We used to park un­der the Ch­e­sa­peake City Bridge on the south side and ride to Rock Hall, a good eight hours in the sad­dle,” she said. “But this is just so much safer. We’ve had bot­tles and cans thrown at us, nasty things said to us, and we’re not both­er­ing any­body, we’re on the shoul­der mind­ing our own busi­ness.”

Peck said that her group of rid­ers of­ten stops at a busi­ness or restau­rant at the end of a journey, and be­lieves that both Delaware City and Ch­e­sa­peake City will def­i­nitely see a boost in tourism from the trail.

“Schae­fer’s Canal House will def­i­nitely be see­ing bikers,” she said, not­ing that her sis­ter is even look­ing for a home in Ch­e­sa­peake City due to the prox­im­ity to the trail. “She loves the idea of wak­ing up and be­ing able to ride right out onto the trail.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

Bar­bara Peck, of Elk­ton, rides the newly-opened Delaware City Branch Canal Trail, which con­nects to Ch­e­sa­peake City.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

A cy­cling group takes off on the Delaware City Branch Canal Trail af­ter it is of­fi­cially opened to the public Wed­nes­day.

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