The shallow waters of Locust Cove have doomed Downs Park as a site for North County's first public boat ramp, County Councilman Carl G. "Dutch" Holland said yesterday afternoon.
The decision comes about two weeks after members of the Pinehurst on the Bay/Bodkin Community Association started organizing opposition to a ramp. Members say they were promised 16 years ago that no boating or swimming would be allowed at the park.
Mr. Holland, a Pasadena Republican, said community objections played no role in the decision.
"We've had more people who called up and wanted it than who didn't," Mr. Holland said.
Members of the Pasadena Sportfishing Group have pushed for a new public boat ramp for more than a year. They have complained that the only two public ramps in the county are at Sandy Point State Park near the Bay Bridge and Truxton Park in Annapolis and that there are none in North County.
Initial efforts to locate a new ramp focused on Fort Smallwood Park, which is owned by Baltimore, at the southern end of Fort Smallwood Road. Those plans, however, were scuttled because city officials were not interested.
Department of Parks and Recreation officials announced last month that they were investigating -- at Mr. Holland's request -- whether Downs Park was a suitable site. The ramp would have been financed with a state Department of Natural Resources grant.
County officials were acting in "bad faith," complained John Mogey, treasurer of the Pinehurst on the Bay/Bodkin Community Association. To prove the point, the community association dusted off a 1977 resolution passed by the County Council when it approved the purchase of Downs Park. Amid the "whereas" and "be it resolved" clauses, the resolution says that swimming and boating will be prohibited.
The association wanted the county to abide by that resolution.
Mr. Mogey said members were concerned about the traffic on Mountain Road as well as the boat traffic on Bodkin Creek that a ramp would generate. They also worried that the ramp construction and the creation of boating channels could harm Locust Cove and an old "Indian" canal that the residents believe has historic value.
"We have no objection to a ramp in North County . . . but not here," Mr. Mogey said.
"I don't know where [the association members] get the idea a boat ramp was written in stone," Mr. Holland said last week. On the other hand, he said, "I don't know how binding a resolution is."
He said that parks director Bill Rinehart told him that a ramp at Downs Park had been ruled out because the water is too shallow.