MECHANICSVILLE, Md. — Governor Larry Hogan[R] recently announced $13.5 million in Waterway Improvement Fund grants made for Fiscal Year 2022. The Waterway Improvement fund commits $500,000 of the $13.5 million to build the Snow Hill Park Boat Ramp, which expects to give much-needed access to the Patuxent River.

“Public access along there was a little behind for access to the water,” Arthur Shepherd, director of St. Mary’s County recreation and parks, said. “This will mean much more to the community in the north because the county has a more strategic spot regarding proximity.”

As pleasing as this sounds, it was a surprise for St. Mary’s County to get a new boat launch since it has only been a little over a year since the last boat ramp closed.

Cape St. Mary’s Marina ended their 20-year easement with the county keeping the boat ramp open. For those who do not know, a property easement is a legal situation in which the title to a specific piece of land remains with the landowner, but they give another person or organization the right to use that land for a distinct purpose.

However, there did not seem to be any unfavorable reasons they shut down the boat ramp. It just came down to an owner not wanting to renew a lease.

“The boat ramp at Cape St. Mary’s had a lease agreement with the county, and the lease agreement expired. Then, the property owner rightfully did not desire to extend that lease,” Shepherd said. “This gave potential for a new location. The ramp did not shut down for an adverse reason. It was just that the lease had expired, and the county had just purchased Snow Hill in 2017. So, the commissioners were looking at that as a site for the boat ramp for public access.”

Additionally, the grant process was long and drawn out, but it was fairly easy since everyone had the same goal.

“Our goal is to get Marylanders access to the water both for the economy and recreation. They [the governor’s office] were very good to work with for the proposal,” Shepherd said. “The Snow Hill project is a part of our capital improvement project, so that flowed right into getting our application put in.”

Currently, they are holding community stakeholder meetings regarding the master plan for the property. A design team has started an archaeological study and a concept plan.

Shepherd said there will be full community input soon. They are looking to have a planned finish by the end of this year, and they hope for the ramp to be running in the next two years.

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