I am fortunate to be mayor of a city that has one of the most important maritime cultures in the world. Water defines us as a city, a community and a tourist destination, and it’s been one of the things I’ve loved most about Annapolis since arriving on a boat almost 30 years ago.
Over time, our history and our connection to water have evolved. The shoreline has been privatized and fencing installed. Some communities, built right next to streams and tributaries, have been deliberately cut off from water. As a result, many residents rarely have the opportunity to experience the beauty and richness of the Chesapeake Bay.
I want our waters to be accessible, swimmable and fishable for everyone, not just the few. I am also committed to addressing resilience challenges and connecting all parts of our city. Our waterways create exciting opportunities to provide alternative mobility and green transport.
This kind of change requires a concerted effort on many fronts to gain support and secure funding. There must be a vision and a champion who fights for it. That’s what I do as mayor and chief ambassador of this city.
No part of our city’s waterways will be left behind in this work. For example, College Creek would be a great place for Clay Street families to fish or swim, but has no access due to a steep embankment. We are planning a new park there, with a new walkway, named after longtime community activist Robert Eades.
On Spa Creek, as well as our reimagined City Dock, we’re tackling shoreline degradation at Truxtun Park. We’re also working to revitalize Hawkins Cove, where residents of Harbor House and Eastport Terrace can sit on the dock, launch a canoe and step into the water on a hot summer day.
Along Rowe Boulevard there is potential for an accessible paddle park and we are negotiating the acquisition of this as State of Maryland and US Navy surplus property.
Off Edgewood Road there is a plot of land that once featured the biggest musical acts of the 1950s and 1960s. The real estate at these legendary beaches – Carr’s and Sparrows – was privately owned until a few weeks. It’s now a city property, thanks to generous funding from county, state, and federal sources – it’s just the first step in returning these areas to the public.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of ferrying a delegation between Annapolis and Holly Beach Farm in Anne Arundel County to share the exciting opportunities that public water access could provide. Other states have created parks through partnerships between federal, state and local governments, such as the Presidio of California in San Francisco. By leading these kinds of trips, I help our partners envision the possibilities of a Chesapeake Bay Gateway Park that creates a legacy for the next generation.
These are just a few of the projects we are all pushing forward because we have been able to get our partners on the water and help them see the potential.
I intend to continue this work using a vessel which I have acquired with my own funds and which I maintain at my own expense. There is no cost to the Annapolis taxpayer and no inconvenience to other boat owners to replace my boat. While this issue may seem personal to some, I intend to stay focused on the goal of restoring access, equity and usability to our waterways by working with partners at all levels. We will let the vision, the work and the results speak for themselves, over the next four years.
Gavin Buckley, a Democrat, is Mayor of the City of Annapolis.