Spy Op-ed: The Real Waterfront Story by Bryan Matthews


Chestertown is about to receive a wonderful gift. It won’t cost the citizens a thing, and in fact everyone will benefit many times over.

A contaminated site is about to become clean and beautiful.

Rather than condominiums, townhouses, and apartments that would have maximized profits, college facilities and open space will prevail.

Washington College's Bryan Matthews

Washington College's Bryan Matthews

An attractive Boathouse and even a Center for the Environment will eventually grow from the ground.

A public Riverwalk will emerge.

Chestertown will have a beautiful waterfront Gateway.

Like most things, this didn’t happen by accident.

KRM (former owner) could have developed this property any time in the last 15 years and it would have been gone forever.

It chose not to.

KRM could have sold it to developers who would have developed it.

It chose not to.

Washington College has coveted this property (adjacent to our current waterfront) for many years.

Roy Kirby knew the College wanted and needed this property.

Roy and KRM came to the mutual conclusion that the best interests of the College and Chestertown were for the College to acquire this property.

It was not the most lucrative conclusion for either party.

KRM sold the entire property (Stepne & the waterfront) to Roy because Roy made the commitment that he would split the property and ensure the College’s position.

Roy has sold the most valuable piece of Chestertown waterfront property to Washington College for more than $3million less than the current appraised value.

He could have developed it.

He chose not to.

The College has committed to clean up the site, beyond what federal and state laws require it to do.

With Chairman Ed Nordberg’s careful leadership, the College has been involved in this process for over two years, and is well aware of all information regarding contamination and clean-up options.

The best available professionals have been secured, and using modern testing procedures they have investigated all possibilities.

The most current EPA and MDE standards have been and will continue to be met.

The College is fortunate to have the resources to enlist the best expertise available.

It will not happen overnight, but in the coming years the citizens of Chestertown will see a sick piece of land along the river come to life.

In the not-too-distant future Chestertown will enjoy a new treasure along the Chester.

Something to celebrate.

Bryan Matthews is Director of Athletics and Associate Vice President for Administrative Services for Washington College.

About Dave Wheelan

Letters to Editor

  1. Gren Whitman says:

    Private waterfront property being converted into property that will directly and indirectly benefit Washington College, residents of Chestertown and Kent County, visitors to our area, the Chester River? “Amazing” is the only word sufficient. True generosity; a true gift, for which we citizens must thank KRM, Roy Kirby, and the college, and reiterate: Amazing!

  2. Dave Hanlin says:

    Will Washington College’s project include the Armory site. If not, it would seem to be a logical extension of the waterfront development efforts. Given the political efforts by Save the Armory folks, there are few uses of that building that will make economic sense. To my simple mind, the Armory could be used by the college for class rooms and waterfront campus support services and comprised an integrated whole with college’s existing property and the KRM site.

  3. The real question is whether the property will actually be able to be used by local residents. I doubt it.

    While green space is far more appealing than condominiums (like those being built by Mr. Kirby and failing to sell along the rest of the waterfront), what is the benefit to most Chestertonians if it is just another ‘college only’ space? The encompassing majority of the waterfront is privately owned. Sad that Chestertown is the Eastern Shore example of a waterfront town with no water access for its citizens.

    It’s a real coup for the College, and there is no doubt about that. But I think it’s a little premature for Bryan to suggest everyone applaud this project.

  4. In the past I’ve never responded in print to an incorrect statement about me, my partners, my family, or my friends. I’ve personally addressed the Town Council and other bodies to clarify misconceptions. I couldn’t, however, let Kate’s posting to this article by Bryan Matthews pass without comment. Firstly, our development, Chester River Landing, has sold all but a few of the units that have been constructed. Maybe there’s another Mr. Kirby she’s speaking of, or another project she might have confused with ours? Chester River Landing is financially sound and there is an interest reserve that is built into the project allowing for 2 additional years of zero sales. Our philosophy is to not construct additional units until we see more of a recovery. Many projects in Maryland would love to be in this position. I feel so confident about the project that I personally own one of the newly completed townhouses on the river. (I’ve already violated my personal code of silence about our projects that states, “unless you have a need to know, or care to be a partner in one of our projects, I don’t owe you an explanation”.
    As it relates to the waterfront, Kate, if you take the time to read recent Kent CountyNews articles or Town meeting minutes, you’ll find that we are working with a group of interested waterfront owners to arrive at a solution for permanent waterfront access for the town. This includes the potential sale of our marina. Additionally, if you’ve been in the area for at least the last 4 years, archived articles will tell you that we bought the waterfront 4+ years ago to save it from another fate, and have documented publicly that we loose approx. $150,000.00 there yearly. If you’d like to be “The White Knight” of 2010, we’ll gladly negotiate in good faith with you for your potential purchase of same.
    In closing Kate, and any other parties that are really curious, my office number is: 410.810.3113. I’d rather spend 2 minutes correcting your false apprehensions than have inaccurate and false information spread. I’m pretty busy, but if you add up the 5 minutes I spent typing this and the hours of refuting false cocktail party rumors started by articles like yours, then the 2 minute phone call “pales in the light”.

  5. Roy,
    Having known you since 1981, there was never a doubt in my mind how much you cared about Kent County, Chestertown and Widehall. You always said that one day you would live at Widehall because you loved it so much here and knew it was where you wanted to be and to share it with your family.
    I can only say that I wish you had chosen Rock Hall and not Chestertown to live and work. You would find so many here that would be so grateful for your kindness, generosity, good will, spirit and willingness to help a community that you love so much.
    However, I am very happy for Chestertown and the Chester River…….only very good things will come of this and I for one am grateful.
    I am so glad that you are finally able to speak and yes….confront people who are either small minded or jealous of your achievements and your willingness to give back and help….or just take from you when it is convenient and then you are dusted if you don’t go along with the flow.
    I have told many that you have worked so hard over the years and are so grateful because there were times in your life and business when things were not going well. In turn, you have stood by the things you love and value and I know you not to ever go back on your word.
    Good show, bravo and thank you.

    Robin Wood Kurowski
    Rock Hall MD!

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