Cerino Gives Update on Marina


The Chestertown Marina during Downrigging weekend, 2017. Drone photo courtesy of Short Studios, by Sam Shoge

Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino, at the Nov. 20 council meeting, gave a progress report on renovations to the town-owned marina.

Using illustrations created from spectacular drone photos taken by Councilman Sam Shoge, Cerino showed both completed work and work planned for the next phases of the renovations, scheduled to take place over the next couple of years.  He also outlined the budgetary picture for the work, which is largely being funded by government grants. A complication with that source, Cerino noted, is that getting additional grant money is unlikely until the town has used up the funds currently on hand. Also, because the town is using state funds, it is expected to adhere to the state’s specifications for the work being done.

The town is “still plugging away” on Phase I of the project, which involves repairs to the bulkheads and walkways.. The bulkheads and walkways along the south side of the marina have been replaced, and are about two feet higher than the old ones. The new height is in response to the chronic flooding problems with the old marina. Cerino said the town decided on the new elevation after observing the Sultana pier, which is flooded only in extreme weather conditions such as major hurricanes. Funds from the Washington College donation at the time it acquired the Armory were used as the match for the state funds for this part of the work. New bulkheads and walkways were also installed at the Scott’s Point Marina, which shares a boat basin with the town marina.

Workers carve grooves in the concrete for the enlarged boat ramp at the marina.

Also upgraded in the process was the boat ramp, which has been doubled in width and given a new concrete foundation. Old finger piers along the bulkhead near the ramp have been removed. They will be replaced with six new piers, three of which will be floating piers that allow easier boarding and unboarding no matter what the level of the tide.  The piers will be far enough from the ramp to allow adequate freeway for boats using the ramp.

For this work, Cerino said the town was using a $100,000 private donation from Michael Lawrence of Grassymeade Farm near Comegys’ Bight on Quaker Neck. A small plaza suitable for musical performances, to be sited where the current marina store is located, will be named “Grassymeade Plaza” in his honor. Cerino encouraged other donors to come forward, and indicated there would be naming opportunities for generous gifts.

Phase II will take on the replacement of the bulkheads and walkways along the river side of the Fish Whistle restaurant. At the same time, the three piers along that side of the marina will be removed and the basin dredged to a depth of six feet, Cerino said. Silting has reduced the depth of the boat basin to two feet, making it impossible for larger boats to use many of the slips. The return to full depth should make the marina a more attractive destination for boaters who were previously unable to dock there. This part of the work can  be completely funded with a Maryland Department of Natural Resources grant the town already has in hand.

The long-range plan would remove two of the three piers on the river side of the restaurant, replacing them with one longer pier. The Cannon Street pier would also be extended, which would allow even larger boats to dock there. Ideally, Cerino said, this part of the project will be completed in time for Downrigging in 2018. He estimated the cost of this phase at between $350,000 and $450,000. The improved piers, extending into deeper water, would make it possible for more tall ships to take part in the annual Downrigging festival.

Architect’s drawing of the new marina store and interpretive center.

At the same time, a new marina store, combined with an interpretive center, is to be built on the site of the large empty building which was removed over the last summer. Budget constraints led to downsizing the new building, originally planned for two stories, to a single story. Yerkes Construction is the contractor on the revamped project. Cerino said the current plan is to build the foundation and shell, and try to raise about $500,000 to complete the building.  Completion of the building is a key to the economic development aspect of the marina, Cerino said. The interpretive center will include brochures and other information on the attractions in the nearby town, letting visiting boaters know about sightseeing, eateries, shops and other attractions within an easy walk from the docks.

This phase will also involve the removal of the existing marina shed and fuel tank. Both will be relocated to the rear of the property. The fuel pier will be moved slightly upriver from the current location. The town will need to sell off all the old fuel under supervision of the Maryland Department of  Environment, Cerino said.

Architect’s drawing of the planned new marina dock, with the Fish Whistle restaurant in the background and a new plaza replacing the current marina store.

Finally, Phase III will involve raising the parking lot level around the marina store and the Fish Whistle from one-and-a-half to two feet. This will also involve improvements in stormwater management for the entire property, as well as water and wastwater lines. The town will need to work closely with the Fish Whistle during this phase.

On the whole, Cerino and the council sounded optimistic about the progress of the renovations, which were one of the key issues the mayor took on during his first term in office.





Letters to Editor

  1. Martin Hersey says:

    After all the renovations, will new people actually use the marina?

    • William Hollingsworth says:

      “will new people actually use the marina?” I certainly intend to. The finger pier at the foot of the ramp prevented me from launching my boat there and I have to launch at Shipyard and make the run around to go to the Sand Bar, the Raft Race, the Fire Works, or to fish in the upper Chester. I will now be able to launch close to home. Thanks Chestertown for these improvements that preserve public access to the Chester River in town.

  2. Matthew Tobriner says:

    In August 2016 Chestertownians put a full court press on Governor Hogan in an attempt to secure capital funds for the Marina upgrade. Part of that effort was an update of an Economic Impact Analysis that had been done previously in support of the Town’s original purchase of the marina. The information below is a brief summary of the updated results. Of course naysayers may point out that these are only models and estimates. True, but they are about the best that one can do in making predictions in this arena. The purpose here is to let readers know there is a reasonable chance that this project will bear fruit and be a significant contributor to Chestertown’s economy. Mayor Cerino and the Town have pushed hard to make this a reality and it looks as though we will get there. We need the continued support of the Town’s citizens to finish the capital improvements, and we will ultimately need a sound management structure and marketing effort to sustain the Mrina’s operations.

    Marina and Related Tourism Economic Impact Analysis

    • In 2011 the Chestertown Port Committee (CPC) completed a major study for the Town, analyzing the purchase of the Chestertown Marina, including the assessment of the marina’s economic impact on the Town’s economy. The Town purchased the Marina using a bond issued by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

    • The CPC used the industry-standard, empirical Boating Economic Impact Model developed by the Recreational Marine Research Center at Michigan State University, sponsored by The Association of Marines Industries (AMI), The Great Lakes Commission, The U.S. Coast Guard, and The National Marine Manufacturers Association. Model results (based on rural area economic data) for the then-recommended 93 slip marina (72 permanent and 21 transient), without adjusting for inflation since 2007 were:

    Annual direct, indirect, and induced effects on the regional economy was estimated at $1.3 M, of which $0.5 M was labor income and $0.8 was value added income. Total estimated new jobs created were 22. Accounting for aggregate CPI inflation from 2007 to 2016 of ~16% increases the total economic impact to about $1.5 M annually.

    • The newer scaled-down marina design envisions 70 slips (54 permanent and 16 transient). Prorating the above impact accordingly, leads to an estimated positive economic impact of $1.12 Million and 16 full and part time jobs. We have checked this result using the newly available AMI Marina Economic Impact Calculator, which forecasts a total impact of $1.34 Million and 12 jobs.

    • Additionally we believe the completion of the marina upgrade, the planned co-located Visitor’s Center and the Waterfront Trail, will synergize with the Arts Master Plan and the Arts and Entertainment District and drive additional broad-based tourism to Kent County.

    -We estimate that 10 to 20 additional visitors per day for the 6 month period April to October would lead to 1800 to 3600 day-trips, and two additional waterfront-based festivals would generate 4000 to 5000 leisure day trips. Total is 5800 to 8600 trips.

    -Each leisure day-trip is estimated to generate $60 of sales per day in MD. This produces additional total regional direct sales of $350K to $520K per year, without including spending related to overnight accommodations. With multiplier effects included (typically 1.7 for tourism) these total impacts are estimated to be $590K to $880K and 20 to 30 jobs.

    BOTTOM LINE: Total regional annual economic impact is estimated to be $1.7 to $2.2 Million plus 32 to 46 jobs.

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