Dredging of Mathias Cove is requested Foes cite environment, contend homeowners knew water was shallow

November 01, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The shallowness of Mathias Cove off Main Creek prevents George and Carol Stromberg from enjoying their 28-foot powerboat as much as they want to.

"We'd like to go out every Saturday and Sunday if we could," said Carol Stromberg, who has lived on the cove for three years. "But we went out only four times this summer."

That's why the Strombergs and 10 other residents who own cove property have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of the Environment to dredge as much as five feet of sediment from the bottom of the cove.

But opponents argue that residents knew the cove was shallow before they purchased their homes.

"Mathias Cove is probably deeper now than it was 30 years ago," said Brantley Marshall, who has lived across from the cove for about 45 years. "They bought shallow-water property, and now they want to make Main Creek out of it."

The project would entail removing almost 5,500 cubic yards of sand in the 1,200-foot main channel and in 10 spur channels ranging from 26 to 195 feet long. The silt would be dumped at Tar Cove Park off Fort Smallwood Road.

The depth of the cove varies from less than a foot to four feet where the cove merges with Main Creek, said Quentin Banks, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The dredging would help property owners like Albert K. White, who said he can't lower his 25-foot powerboat into the water without difficulty.

"The lift goes down too far," said White, who has volunteered for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for 15 years. "It hits the bottom, and the cables tend to jump off the pulleys."

But the state has designated the cove an environmental critical area because of its yellow and white perch nesting grounds and submerged aquatic vegetation such as pondweed at the top of the cove, Banks said. "That might have an impact" on the application, he said. "But it would be inappropriate to speculate "

Carol Stromberg said the environment is also a priority of the petitioners. She noted that she and her neighbors asked that dredging be halted several hundred feet before the cove joins Main Creek.

"We're just as concerned about the environment," she said. "But it appears from the drawings I've seen that the aquatic vegetation is further up from the dredging."

Marshall, president of Poplar Ridge Improvement Association and a member of Bodkin Creek Coalition, said he is concerned that the dredging would force the fish to find another nursery.

Despite his opposition to the project, Marshall said the coalition, an umbrella group for associations representing Bodkin Creek communities, has not made a decision whether to support the request. "Nobody wants to alienate the other guy," he said.

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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