'A Second Coney Island'
I attended the Aug. 19 public meeting on the proposed Chesapeake Beach/Calvert County land swap. The public meeting began after a rambling one-hour sermon by Mayor [Gerald] Donovan about how his 16-year stint as mayor had rescued Chesapeake Beach from certain ruin, about how the town of Chesapeake Beach was a democracy, and that anyone that did not approve of his land exchange plan and had the gall to actually practice democracy by appearing before the Calvert County commissioners in opposition to his plan was a "selfish sinner." Further, His Honor implied that if the land swap plan did not go through, Chesapeake Beach residents would be responsible for creating a generation of felons that would end up costing the taxpayers $88,000 a year each for their inevitable incarceration. (His Honor must have a high opinion of Chesapeake Beach residents and their offspring.)
Mayor Donovan also decried the selfish residents that would deprive others of recreational opportunities in Chesapeake Beach. By recreational opportunities he must mean staying at his new 60-room motel, eating at his Rod 'N Reel restaurant, swimming at the new expanded water park, taking a fishing charter or playing bingo, keno or similar activities. In short, all activities that will further enrich His Honor and his cronies. His Honor must not regard public access to the beach as worthwhile, as evidenced by the fact that he has sold . . . major waterfront properties for development at his substantial profit. He just approved a variance for a new development on the waterfront (50-foot setback instead of the original 250-foot setback).
The concept of "selfish sinner" is interesting coming from His Honor, who over the past 15 years has sold and expedited the development of nearly all the remaining beachfront property in Chesapeake Beach to his substantial profit. His Honor is [one of] the largest property owners in Chesapeake Beach and the largest employer. . . . His Honor does not seem to notice the clear conflict of interest inherent in his activities. Perhaps this is why he opposes the establishment of an ethics committee for the Town of Chesapeake Beach.
From a planning prospective, Chesapeake Beach is a disaster. Under the "stewardship" of His Honor, the only public beach in Chesapeake Beach is Brownie's Beach, 200 yards long (all that's left of approximately two miles of waterfront). Brownie's Beach now must withstand all visitation pressures in Chesapeake Beach. We have a water park in the center of town, which is an eyesore, and despite his denials the mayor clearly wants to enlarge it. Development is haphazard. Let's not allow ourselves to be bullied by His Honor's vision of a second Coney Island. Chesapeake Beach does not need garish development and carnival attractions to draw visitors.
If the mayor is so concerned about a new ballfield "for the kids," let him cede the Rod 'N Reel parking lot for that enterprise. If not, simply let the county upgrade Kellam Field.
Enjoys Town as a Resort
The land swap proposal in Chesapeake Beach is a difficult issue for the residents to decide. The lopsided treatment your paper gave to the recent public meeting will not help in finding a reasonable solution. Your extensive coverage of Ms. Conklin-Powers, whose few noisy supporters provided the only uncivil behavior of the evening, gave undue attention to a position that displayed ignorance of this town's history.
Chesapeake Beach has been a resort community since its inception a hundred years ago. This town has always made its living from tourists. I for one enjoy the excitement of a resort, and have no desire to live in the sterile bedroom community that some seem to be advocating.
This town's natural beauty consists of what we have made of it. During the hundred years of its existence, the land of Chesapeake Beach has been built up, built down, and recycled for various beneficial uses. For example, Chesapeake Station where I live was recovered "from" a parking lot (of the old Chesapeake Beach Club) to become our paradise. Some of the areas Ms. Conklin-Powers is concerned about were eyesores as recently as 20 years ago. I am certainly glad that we did not preserve any of that "natural beauty."
I believe that Chesapeake Beach has done an admirable job of maintaining its character while making responsible use of the resources under its control. I would point out that the town has preserved some real natural beauty for its residents when it saved Brownie's Beach. I have faith that this town will continue to make the right decisions in the future.
MICHAEL BRUCE SCHAUB
Help Preserve Native Plants
On behalf of the following individuals who have enjoyed Swann Park and Chapman Forest State Park as natural areas and participated in their stewardship, I appreciate this opportunity to respond to the Charles County Land Preservation and Recreation Plan.
This is to thank these many volunteers whose support of preserving the flora and fauna of these unusually pristine natural areas is attested to by the many volunteer hours they have given to protect them from non-native invasive species such as Japanese stilt grass, English ivy, Japanese barberry, Chinese yam, Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese pachysandra, mile-a-minute weed, Russian olive, multiflora rose, and kudzu. The Maryland Native Plant Society and Sierra Club, in cooperation with Charles County and the state of Maryland, lead stewardship nature walks the first Sunday of each month. Our next field trip is on Sept. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We will eradicate alien invasive plants from most of the old growth area of Chapman's Forest and Swann Park.
Our usual meeting place is the parking lot at Ruth Swann Park at 10 a.m. This allows enough time for plant identification, a beautiful beach lunch and volunteering. We remove non-native invasive growth to uncover rare natives such as Virginia Day Flower, moonseed, grape fern species, and Chinquapin Oak. Five to 10 percent invaded now, these parks will become 30 to 50 percent invaded unless we help in a timely manner.
Bring gloves and bag lunch with drink (beach party). Long-sleeved shirts and pants are recommended. Basic principles, with fact sheets, will be discussed. Trip is on unless severe weather occurs. Contact field trip leader for more information: Marc Imlay, 703-607-7989 at work or 301-283-0808 at home. Mark your calender for Sept. 5 and Oct. 3, National Public Lands Day.
MARC IMLAY and 98 others
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