North East Adds Vendors, Garrett Island Access Discussed
By Stephanie Lipcius Palko
In recent years, a variety of organizations have lamented a lack of access to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
The Chesapeake Conservancy has noted that the watersheds and Bay include 11,600 miles of tidal shoreline. Only two percent of those miles offer access opportunities for the general public.
A study of water access completed by several groups a couple of years ago, noted that while these miles of Bay watershed access equal the distance of shoreline along the west coast from Mexico to Canada, there are only 1,150 public access points along the Chesapeake Bay.
There has even been a federal initiative to add many more water access opportunities along the Bay by 2025.
Along with the call for additional public access points, has come the recommendations for added amenities to allow people to enjoy the Bay.
The town of North East is answering that call.
The Community Park in North East will offer opportunities for food vendors and watercraft rentals.
During their recent town meeting, the North East town board passed an ordinance allowing these vendors to compete to provide these services for local residents and tourists.
The new ordinance requires a minimum bid of $1,200 for food vendors, with a maximum of two vendors to be allowed in the park in the area near the boat building house where there had been a volleyball court.
A concession for rental boats will have to come in at a minimum bid of $1,800. The operator will be able to rent non-motorized vessels. The site for the rentals will be in the area of the North East park near the kayak launch.
Town officials discussed making the minimum bid for boat rentals higher than food vendors because the boat rental concession operators will be able to have a building or rack to hold the vessels.
Town officials said that the $1,200 for food vendors and $1,800 for the boat rental operation are just starting points for the bidding.
The town did have a boat rental vendor in the park last year and officials said it worked well, making them set up the plan for this year and add food vendors to the park.
This week, County Councilman George Patchell reported on a recent meeting discussing making Garrett Island more accessible to people. Garrett Island is located in the Susquehanna River. The US40 bridge goes over the island. The island also has an ancient volcano.
Patchell said that in order to facilitate public access to the island, the management of Garrett Island would have to be transferred from U.S. Fish & Wildlife to the National Park Service where it would become part of the Captain John Smith water trail.