Chestertown Marina: Full Speed Ahead!

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The first roof truss swings over into position on the new Chestertown Marina store and interpretive center.

Have you looked at the Chestertown Marina lately?

There’s a lot of activity going on, and it promises to make the town-owned marina a far more attractive — and functional — facility than it has been for a number of years. The new marina store and interpretive center is taking shape along the Front Street side of the marina, with roof beams and siding installed in just the last few days. Along the riverfront, the old marina building has been demolished, and the former fuel pier has been removed. On Tuesday, workers from High Tide Marine Construction of Ocean City were removing the last pilings from the old dock to prepare the marina basin for dredging.

Worker nails cross bars onto trusses during Chestertown Marina construction

The new marina store, originally planned as a two-story building, was redesigned as a single-story building when bids for its construction came in at $1.9 million, nearly double the town’s budget. The low bidder, Yerkes Construction, agreed to take on the project and renegotiated the contract at a price of about $1 million less than the original bid. Mayor Chris Cerino said at a council meeting in November that the town had about $480,000 on hand for the marina building. He said plans were to complete the foundation and shell and raise some $500.000 to finish the project. The store replaces an older building which was purchased and moved to Iowa by a Kent County resident who owns farmland in the midwestern state.

The upgrade to the marina, which the town purchased in 2012 for just over $2 million, is being funded almost entirely by state and federal grants. The town council decided to purchase the property to avoid its being acquired by private owners who could convert it to condominiums and restrict public access to the river. The property had come on the market because the previous owner was facing financial difficulties following the Great Recession of 2008.

One of the reasons the town decided to move ahead with building the shell of the marina store is that the issuers of the grants are reluctant to extend more funds until the town has used up the funds it has already received. So getting the building started is a necessary step to getting the funds to complete it, Cerino said.

Cinder blocks on the site of the demolished marina office.

Workers from High Tide Marine Construction remove debris after old dock and pilings are removed – Chestertown Marina construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Feb. 5 town council meeting, Councilman Marty Stetson said he was impressed by the new store building. He said the one-story design was better in scale with the existing buildings in the area. He also said he was pleased that the town was saving $ 1 million on the project.

Removal of the old marina store creates an open space that can be used for concerts or other public events. The space will be named “Grassymeade Plaza” in honor of  Michael Lawrence of Grassymeade Farm near Comegys’ Bight on Quaker Neck, who donated $100,000 toward the marina upgrades. Also, some $200,000 the town received from Washington College as part of the agreement by which the college obtained the Chestertown Armory, was used to repair the bulkheads.

Removal of the old fuel pier is a preliminary to dredging the basin to a depth a six feet, which will allow larger boats to use the slips along it. The basin has silted up over the years to a depth of no more than two feet in some areas. The ability to dock larger boats in one of the keys to making the marina more attractive to visitors and bringing more tourist trade into Chestertown. Also, the replacement pier will extend an additional 75 feet into the river, compensating for the fact that the current three piers will be replaced by two and providing deeper slips for large boats. The Cannon Street pier, where schooner Sultana and the Echo Hill boats regularly dock, is also scheduled for extension.

The Fish Whistle restaurant is next door to the Chestertown Marina. The two share the parking lot.

Fish Whistle

In addition to the work currently under way, the town plans to replace bulkheads and walkways along the river side of the property, and to raise the level of the parking lot some two feet to mitigate flooding of the property during high tides and storms. That project will also benefit the Fish Whistle restaurant, which shares the parking lot with the town. The Fish Whistle has announced plans to extend its waterfront porch, including installing a new crab deck, in conjunction with the marina work — adding another attraction for both locals and out-of-town visitors.

Already completed are an upgrade to the boat ramp — now doubled in width — and replacement of the walkways and bulkheads on the downriver side of the marina. The boat basin on the south side of the marina was also dredged early in 2017. New floating finger piers are to be installed along that side of the marina, as well.

Much of the current work is expected to be completed or the start of this year’s boating season.

Photo Gallery – Photography by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell

Chestertown Marina construction – removing old pier and pilings

Chestertown Marina construction – old pilings from piers

Chestertown Marina construction equipment – with waterfront condos in background

Workers from High Tide Marine Construction remove debris after old dock and pilings are removed – Chestertown Marina construction

The new interpretive center under construction – Chestertown Marina

Over to its place on the roof – Chestertown Marina construction

Up goes the roof truss – Chestertown Marina construction

Down comes the truss into place on the roof of the new marina building – Chestertown Marina construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. Ann Miller says:

    Looks nice…and so glad to hear the (immediate) area will now have a restaurant with a crab deck.

  2. Carla Massoni says:

    So many people to thank for this new and wonderful addition to Chestertown. I particularly impressed when private citizens make donations that benefit us all. Ginny Gough’s donation of funds for trees and the start of the memorial park off Horsey Lane. And, now this exciting donation by Michael Lawrence of “Grassymeade Plaza” to provide open space for town events!
    Building a legacy we can pass down for generations!

    “Grassymeade Plaza” in honor of Michael Lawrence

  3. Richard G. Urban says:

    Our family has been coming to events in Chestertown since 1972. I live in Lewes,DE now but return for Tea Party and my favorite, Downrigging weekend. Miss the crab cones from Buzzy but can always get a good crab cake at Downrigging. Was scared that the property was going to go Condo. If there is no improvement, there is no profit, and if no profit no improvement. This will make Chestertown a go to port for all the Chesapeake boaters and sailors. The schooners bring in a tremendous amount of income late in the season for the merchant’s and restaurant’s in town. I joined CBMM in 1972 and have seen what that has done for St. Michaels.

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