Inner Harbor inspires Cambridge development plan

January 13, 1993|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer

CAMBRIDGE -- In search of a Baltimore-style rejuvenation, residents of this picturesque Eastern Shore town have mapped out a strategy for economic growth that calls for a $35 million transformation of their desolate waterfront to "Delmarva's Inner Harbor."

Sailwinds Park, a proposed 31-acre development, would include many of the same components as Baltimore's Inner Harbor, including a waterfront promenade, amphitheater, carousel, hotel, marina and festival grounds.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer visited this town of 11,500 yesterday to give the project his blessing, and suggested it could do for Cambridge and Dorchester County what the Inner Harbor redevelopment has done for Baltimore and Maryland.

"I think it can be a state showpiece," he said. "This is what happened in Baltimore, and to see it happening in another setting is really something. . . . When it's half finished, you're going to be drawing people in here beyond your comprehension."

Planned for a waterfront parcel, which stretches three-quarters of a mile, Sailwinds Park is a grab bag of projects designed to be carried out in phases over the next two to three years as funds materialize.

Major components would include a 180-slip marina, festival grounds, restaurant, 300-room hotel and conference center, open-air farmers' market, shops, residences, water taxi and excursion boats.

The plan also calls for an expansion of Dorchester General Hospital and excursion trains running from Cambridge to Hurlock. A visitors' center would feature exhibits on the county's link to the Chesapeake Bay and on the life of Harriet Tubman, a Cambridge native who helped organize the Underground Railroad that helped slaves escape to freedom.

A shipyard would be operated as an Eastern Shore branch of the Living Classrooms Maritime Center. The park takes its name from a central "sail garden" that would feature a sculpture made of rotating sails.

Accompanied by his Cabinet, the governor made it clear that he does not want Sailwinds Park to be perceived as a state project or dependent on state funds. But he said the state will do whatever it can to assist the nonprofit development group, Sailwinds Park Inc.

Mr. Schaefer said the Maryland Port Administration is making available an 11-acre parcel and a 16,400-square-foot warehouse, both declared surplus when the Port Administration ceased operations in Cambridge two years ago.

Planning consultants for Sailwinds Park are Jeff Middlebrooks, who is leaving the Baltimore Development Corp. to head a new firm called CityWorks Inc., and a Columbia-based land planner, LDR International.

"Think of it as Delmarva's Inner Harbor," Mr. Middlebrooks said. "It can be the whole Eastern Shore's recreation center."

Mr. Middlebrooks said the park's creation is not contingent on the issuance of general obligation bonds by the state or any other funds that must be approved by lawmakers.

Instead, he explained, the citizens' group will seek funding assistance from a variety of sources, including the city of Cambridge, Dorchester County and private foundations and businesses.

The governor's endorsement marked the culmination of more than a year of planning by the Committee of 100 of Dorchester County, a citizens' group formed in early 1991. Many of the committee members told the governor yesterday they believe the project will succeed because it has the support of the entire community.

"We as a race have never before been let in on a project like this in Dorchester County," said Octavene Saunders, an African-American commissioner for the county's 3rd Ward. "We've always had to read about it in the newspaper. But we're involved in this, and it's going to bring housing and jobs to the area. That's what people are looking for."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.