Issues Still Cloud Bishopville Pond Restoration

SNOW HILL – The Bishopville Pond project is inching closer to a start date, but concerns over the bridge and the murky ownership of the pond bottom must be resolved first.

“The major issue in the project is trying to figure out what’s going to happen with the bridge located east of the pond,” said Worcester County Comprehensive Planning director Sandy Coyman.

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) needs to be certain that the work done to restore the pond does not create a situation that threatens the bridge’s pilings during storm events. Official word from SHA has not been received.

In 1989, a major storm stripped 12 feet of soil from the steel pilings of the bridge and stripped earth from the bridge foundation when rainfall increased the water in the pond.

The permit application is underway, and the project design team is working on final approval of a stockpiling permit from Maryland Department of the Environment. The county is also working with state departments on a memorandum of understanding regarding financial and administrative arrangements.

The final hurdle facing the Bishopville pond project is the establishment of the ownership of the pond bottom.

According to Coyman, the project involves placing sand and other materials on the bottom of the pond, requiring easements if the pond bottom belongs to surrounding property owners.

If Worcester County owned the pond bottom, the situation would be solved, Coyman said. However, if the pond bottom belongs to the neighbors, Worcester County will need to acquire easements.

While SHA documents indicate that the pond bottom was given to Worcester County some time in the past, the county needs to make sure, Coyman said.

“Is anyone paying taxes on the bottom of the pond?” asked County Commissioner Bud Church during the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday.

Coyman said he was not sure.

“I think the bottom of the pond belongs to Worcester County,” Church said.

Commissioner Linda Busick, who represents the area, asked if any of the neighbors have made a complaint over the project or asserted their rights to the pond bottom.

“I’ve not gotten any calls or questions,” Coyman said.

In the next two months, Worcester County will have a better idea of the project timeline, Coyman said. Once the permits are in hand, the work

The restoration work will include installation of a fish ladder, dredging, and plantings.