BERLIN – Several ongoing or proposed waterfront enhancement projects throughout Worcester County got a financial shot in the arm last week when the state’s Board of Public Works approved over $20 million in Waterway Improvement Fund expenditures for 130 projects across Maryland.
The intent of virtually all of the projects is to improve public access to the state’s waterways, encourage safe boating and support commercial navigation in waterfront communities across Maryland. Governor Martin O’Malley, who sits on the Board of Public Works along with state Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp, said this week the projects targeted for the funding represent an investment in Maryland’s maritime culture and heritage.
“Investing in increasing waterway access and boating opportunities and improving boating safety helps ensure that our waterways remain an important recreational and commercial resource that benefits Maryland families in all walks of life,” he said.
Since 1966, the Waterway Improvement Fund has provided more than 4,100 grants totaling $260 million for the creation and improvement of nearly 300 public boating access sites, more than 190 navigation projects and hundreds more boating-related projects and activities across the state. Maryland boaters contribute to the fund through a five-percent vessel excise tax, according to Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin.
“The Waterway Improvement Fund is essential for sustaining recreational and commercial boating access in Maryland,” he said. “The local projects supported will have a significant, positive impact on the lives of Marylanders as they utilize and enjoy our waterways.”
Ten projects in Worcester County are scheduled to receive $684,000 from the Waterway Improvement Fund money released last week including $57,000 to replace finger piers and design a new boat ramp in West Ocean City. Also included is another $60,000 to replace the roof of and dredge the entrance of the Natural Resources Police (NRP) boat house in the commercial harbor in West Ocean City.
Other funds are allocated for the purchase of equipment including $50,000 to acquire a fire and rescue boat and other equipment for Ocean City, and $20,000 to purchase a new patrol boat for Assateague State Park.
Other important projects set to receive funds include $50,000 to relocate the existing South Point boat ramp to improve boat launching.