Ellen O. Moyer dangles her legs over the edge of the new bridge and peers down at a sewer pipe in the sluggish stream.
She knows the rusting pipe well, as do several generations of Annapolitans who have scampered across it to reach the wooded banks of Spa Creek. Until now, the pipe was the only way to avoid wading through knee-deep water to explore the brush and radio tower on the other side.
This week, a group of naval engineers descended on the creek withtheir arms full of wooden planks. They hammered together a narrow bridge, in one swoop connecting a public park still under construction behind Bates Middle School with 5 acres of woods once owned by WYRE-AM radio.
For Moyer, a city alderwoman who has worked for more thantwo decades to create an extensive park system in Maryland's capital, the bridge is a milestone. Tomorrow, she will walk across it and cut a ribbon to inaugurate the link in a planned 38 miles of trails through Annapolis.
Other environmental activists and community leaders will spend the day cleaning up the city's parks and streams. More than 140 midshipmen have volunteered to plant trees and spread wood chips. Churches, civic groups and Scout troops will replace litter withwildflowers.
It's the city's own Earth Day, called "Greenscape '92," the culmination of more than 20 years of creating urban parks.
"It's a celebration of parks, paths and people," said Moyer, a Democrat who represents the city's Ward 8. "It's a celebration of our connection, if you will, with our environment."
Volunteers will join midshipmen in renovating the centerpiece of "Greenscape '92," the former radio station that was bought by Annapolis in 1989.
The midshipmen have already poured more than three weeks' of hard work into the two-story building. City leaders want to turn it into an environmental center and meeting site for seniors and community groups, includingthe Annapolis Conservancy Board, the state's first public urban landtrust.
Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins and Moyer also will plant a ceremonial ash tree behind Bates. The overgrown fields outside the school used to hardly beckon ballplayers or anyone else. Weeds grew a foot high, rust ate away at the football goals, and the asphalt track had buckled.
In the past year, workers carved a field of dreams from therundown area, building a $725,000 athletic complex with a tot lot, lighted practice field and paved trail.
Moyer walked down the trailto inspect the bridge and enjoy the sunshine yesterday morning. She pulled out a yellowing blueprint from 1967 called "A Beautification Plan for Annapolis" that outlined parks goals. Many have been reached,she said proudly.
"It's the way of bureaucracy -- things do take a long time, but in the end, they can get done," she said. " 'Greenscape' is a way of commemorating and cutting some ribbons on milestones, and hopefully next year, there will be some more milestones."
Annapolis now boasts 12 parks, the extensive Truxtun Park and smaller ones that often consist of only a couple of park benches and trees. Residents can wander down to the water's edge on Monticello Avenue in Murray Hill. Wind-surfers enjoy a park at the end of Chesapeake Avenuein Eastport. And children play again in the shadow of Bates.
Moyer, who has been promoting "Greenscape" on the local cable station, said she hopes many parents will bring their children out tomorrow to plant a few shrubs or trees.
"When you look at all the global problems, the ozone layer, the toxic waste, it does seem overwhelming," she said. "But you can act locally, whether it's planting a tree or a flower."