Severna Park residents work to reclaim beach Community project goal is to clean the area, turn section into wetlands

December 26, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

In the past, Jeff McFadden could stand on a pier at Hatton Memorial Beach off Sullivan Cove and admire the abundance of wildlife and vegetation, but vines and trash have overrun the Severna Park beach.

"This is really one of the prettiest beaches on the Severn River, and it needs cleaning up," he said.

That's why McFadden and other members of the Olde Severna Park Improvement Association are moving forward with a project to convert part of the beach into a wetlands area.

The civic group plans to create the wetlands on a 10,000-square-foot parcel the association bought from the county for $1 this month. Two more tracts will be cleaned, said McFadden, co-president of the association with his wife, Anne.

Vines that have choked the life out of several trees will be removed, and empty beer cans and other trash will be picked up.

The association also plans to spray a herbicide on a species of shoreline grass called phragmites, which can grow about 8 feet tall and cut off sunlight to shorter vegetation, McFadden said.

The five-year project will cost about $6,000, he said.

"This is a long-term commitment," McFadden said. "There's a lot of work to be done and a fair amount of money to be spent."

The civic group had worked with the county for about two years to buy the lot, which was owned 80 years ago by Severna Co., the original developers of Severna Park, said Walter Truax, vice president of the association.

The county Department of Public Works bought the land in the 1940s to build a water pumping station, said Betty Dixon, a spokeswoman for the county's Land Use and Environment Office.

The department used the station until 10 years ago, when another station was built off Earleigh Heights Road, then tore it down and decided to sell the land as surplus, she said.

"We knew that it was not a buildable piece of property," Dixon said. "So the only choice was to go back to [the association] and see if they wanted it."

McFadden said the civic group was relieved that it was given the opportunity to preserve the parcel, particularly because the beach abuts a 13-acre natural preserve owned by the county.

"It just makes even more sense," he said.

The beach is a popular spot for boaters and families. Many eat at the picnic tables or take their children to the playground.

Association members can rent slips or mooring piles for $25 a year.

The civic group is intent on preserving the beach to create a natural habitat for the rabbits, foxes, and bats that congregate and live there, Truax said.

"It is a beautiful spot," he said. "We just want to bring it back to what it originally was."

Pub Date: 12/26/96

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