Gov­er­nor Ho­gan vis­its Chestertown marina

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - By PETER HECK

Special from the Kent County News

— Mayor Chris Cerino took Gov. Larry Ho­gan on a half-hour guided tour of the Chestertown Marina on Fri­day.

A who’s-who of elected of­fi­cials and com­mu­nity lead­ers was on hand to greet the gov­er­nor, in­clud­ing all four Chestertown coun­cil mem­bers, the en­tire 36th Dis­trict del­e­ga­tion to the Gen­eral As­sem­bly, Kent County Com­mis­sioner Bill Short and Sher­iff John Price. There were also rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Wash­ing­ton Col­lege, lo­cal busi­ness own­ers and other stake­hold­ers in the com­mu­nity’s eco­nomic fu­ture, in­clud­ing the Cham­ber of Com­merce, the Down­town Chestertown As­so­ci­a­tion and the Greater Chestertown Ini­tia­tive.

Ho­gan ar­rived in front of the wa­ter­front Fish Whis­tle restau­rant shortly af­ter 2 p.m. and com­mented on the large turnout. “Did you all come here for drinks?” he said.

Af­ter ex­chang­ing greet­ings and small talk with var­i­ous mem­bers of the crowd, Ho­gan ac­cepted a Wash­ing­ton Col­lege base­ball cap from Thad Moore, in­terim ath­let­ics di­rec­tor at the col­lege.

“It’s a great honor to have Gov. Ho­gan in Chestertown. (A gu­ber­na­to­rial visit) only hap­pens ev­ery cou­ple of years,” Cerino said.

The mayor in­tro­duced the var­i­ous dig­ni­taries in at­ten­dance, ask­ing for a show of hands from the lo­cal busi­ness own­ers.

Cerino then gave an over­view of the re­vi­tal­iza­tion project for the town-owned marina

“The town bought the marina in 2012,” he said, not­ing that Chestertown has been a port since its found­ing in 1706. The rea­son for the ac­qui­si­tion, he said, was to pre­serve public ac­cess to the wa­ter and to keep the marina as an eco­nomic en­gine for the com­mu­nity.

“If we pull this off, it will ben­e­fit the town and county to the tune of $1.6 to $1.7 mil­lion in busi­ness an­nu­ally,” he said.

Lo­cal restau­rants and shops stand to ben­e­fit from vis­i­tors to the marina. The nearby Wash­ing­ton Col­lege wa­ter­front also will be an at­trac­tion, he said, cit­ing the col­lege’s plans for a new boathouse and aca­demic build­ing on the river.

“This won’t be a full-service marina,” Cerino said. “We ex­pect to send peo­ple to Rolph’s Wharf and Rock Hall and Bet­ter­ton.”

Cerino and Ho­gan then took a ca­sual walk


around the Fish Whis­tle, with the mayor point­ing out ar­eas where ren­o­va­tions are planned. He de­scribed the high-tide flood­ing that has been a reg­u­lar prob­lem for the marina and the Fish Whis­tle. He spoke about the public-pri­vate part­ner­ship between the town and the restau­rant to raise the level of the marina prop­erty to mit­i­gate the floods.

Walk­ing first to the Can­non Street side of the prop­erty, Cerino showed Ho­gan the Sul­tana’s dock and the area where the restau­rant plans to ex­pand its river­side deck. He told how the town is work­ing with the state Depart­ment of Natural Re­sources to re­pair the bulk­heads. He de­scribed the role the marina plays in Sul­tana‘ s Down­rig­ging Week­end and other river­front ac­tiv­i­ties that bring in tourists.

The town has ap­plied for grants, in­clud­ing one from the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture for $1 mil­lion, to fi­nance much of the work to re­vi­tal­ize the marina, Cerino said. It has $400,000 in grant fund­ing in hand, he said. Dredg­ing of the boat slips and re­moval of col­laps­ing fin­ger piers along the west side of the prop­erty al­ready have been com­pleted.

Cerino said the marina store is to be de­mol­ished and re­placed by a mod­ern in­ter­pre­tive cen­ter far­ther from the wa­ter, with meet­ing spa­ces, show­ers and laun­dry, among other ameni­ties. A small plaza for mu­si­cal per­for­mances and other ac­tiv­i­ties will be cre­ated in its place, on the south side of the restau­rant near the wa­ter.

Ho­gan said he re­cently vis­ited Havre de Grace, where a sim­i­lar pocket park is home to fes­ti­vals and other ac­tiv­i­ties. “That’s how we en­vi­sion this,” Cerino said. He showed Ho­gan an artist’s ren­der­ing of the re­vi­tal­ized marina. He also pointed out Wilmer Park across the boat basin, and the col­lege lands beyond.

“We’ll do ev­ery­thing we can to help you,” Ho­gan said.

The gov­er­nor said it was the sec­ond week­end in a row he’s spent on the East­ern Shore, and he looks for­ward to re­turn­ing to Chestertown in the near fu­ture.

At the end of the visit, Cerino gave the gov­er­nor a copy of his book of pho­to­graphs, “Kent County by Wa­ter.”

Prior to his ar­rival in Chestertown, Ho­gan vis­ited Camp Echo Hill and ate lunch with the campers and staff.


Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino dis­cusses plans for the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of the town-owned marina to Gov. Larry Ho­gan on Fri­day af­ter­noon, July 8.

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