Restoration of park set to begin tomorrow

Amos Garrett project aims to improve quality of Spa Creek, beautify shore

July 18, 2004|By Childs Walker | Childs Walker,SUN STAFF

Annapolis leaders and environmental activists are beginning a weeklong restoration of eroding Amos Garrett Park, a project they say will improve water quality in Spa Creek and make the city's shoreline more attractive.

The restoration is scheduled to culminate Saturday afternoon with a public workshop at which experts will install support logs made of coconut fibers and plant marsh grasses and shrubs.

The Spa Creek Conservancy, the recently formed environmental foundation responsible for the project, hopes the restoration will show other communities along the Chesapeake Bay how to maintain shorelines with natural planting.

The effort is funded by a $25,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Mel Wilkins, project manager for the conservancy, said the park, located at the end of Amos Garrett Boulevard in the Murray Hill section of Annapolis, has become an ugly mix of bottles, trash, concrete and gullies created by runoff.

"But we're going to fix all that," he said.

Wilkins said he hopes that in a few years the 130-by-150-foot space will be home to aquatic plants, ducks, turtles, fish, crabs and oysters.

City officials have supported the foundation's efforts.

"The Spa Creek Conservancy is using a formula that works well for the city," said Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer. "Thanks to their efforts, we will have a city park improved using grants, outside professional expertise, our own environmental staff and the energy and enthusiasm of volunteers."

Neighbors and activists say the park has suffered from storm-water runoff, poor soil quality and a lack of natural vegetation. In addition to bolstering the shoreline, they plan to build a drainage garden just below street level that would collect storm water, which has traditionally run into the creek.

The enhancements should improve water quality in Spa Creek, project leaders say.

Foundation workers plan to begin tomorrow by installing boulders and sand to protect the shore from waves created by passing boats. Then, they plan to install the biodegradable logs, which are designed to stabilize the beach until planted vegetation takes firm root. The plantings are scheduled to take place at Saturday's workshop.

Plans to fix up Amos Garrett gained steam last year after a state environmental official who lives near the park asked colleagues if it could be restored. The state Department of Natural Resources and the city's environmental commission quickly agreed to refurbish the site and asked the Spa Creek Conservancy to lead the effort.

Wilkins and others formed the conservancy in October and have restored shoreline along other sections of the heavily traveled waterway. They used a $20,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for a similar restoration this spring near the creek's headwaters.

Of the group's work, Wilkins said, "It will improve the water quality in Spa Creek and thus the bay, little by little."

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