Commissioners Turn Away South-End Pier Request

Commissioners Turn Away South-End Pier Request
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SNOW HILL – The Taylor Landing community’s plea for a crabbing pier went unanswered this week as the Worcester County Commissioners opted not to proceed with the project.

In spite of Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw’s attempt to generate support for the effort, just he and Bud Church voted in favor of proceeding with the design of a crabbing pier for Taylor Landing. Lockfaw criticized his fellow commissioners for failing to support the residents on the southern end of Worcester County.

“I’ll certainly keep that in mind when you expect my support in the future,” he said.

Area residents have been asking county officials to install a crabbing pier at Taylor Landing since last year, when an overhaul of the facility’s aging boat ramp made crabbing there difficult. Signs now prohibit fishing or crabbing from the piers in the boat dock area while the installation of rip-rap — essentially a foundation made of large stones — makes it difficult elsewhere. A community petition led Lockfaw and then-Commissioner Virgil Shockley to meet with residents last August.

“We didn’t make any promises but we did indicate we’d check into it and do our best to move forward,” Lockfaw said.

John Tustin, the county’s director of public works, solicited proposals, all under $10,000, for the design of a pier that would allow crabbing.

When he asked for commissioners’ guidance Tuesday, Commissioner Jim Bunting asked whether parking at Taylor Landing had been taken into account.

“I don’t know how we can approve a crabbing pier not knowing if we’re going to have enough parking,” he said.

Tustin said that he had never seen more than a few cars there at any one time but that parking could be considered during the design phase of the project.

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic advised against funding the design of the project when it was unclear whether the county would even have the money to construct it.

“It was built to be a boat ramp, that’s what it should remain,” he said. “Putting money into the design only gives false hope.”

Church, who supported Lockfaw’s motion to go forward with the design, said residents in the south end of the county didn’t have the amenities those in the Ocean City area did.

“I think it’s a portion of the county that doesn’t ask for a whole lot,” he said. “They deserve a chance.”

When contacted after Tuesday’s meeting, Girdletree resident Mike Sponseller — the person who organized last year’s petition drive — said he was disappointed with the county’s lack of support for local residents. He said several would have attended the meeting if they’d known the crabbing pier was on the agenda.  He said before the boat ramps were upgraded, there’d be as many as a dozen people crabbing at Taylor Landing in the evenings. He says kids continue to try to crab there by standing on the loose rocks but he’s afraid they’re going to get hurt.

“All we’re asking for is a little pier we can crab and fish off,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that use that landing and not just for boating.”

Like Lockfaw, he said it seemed as if officials had little interest in investing in the southern end of Worcester County. Sponseller pointed to the array of well-built crabbing and fishing areas in Ocean City and Ocean Pines.

“You come down here and you’re lucky if you can keep the door shut on the port-a-potty,” he said.

Sponseller said he was going to continue advocating for a crabbing pier and would be contacting the governor’s office with his concerns.

Lockfaw, too, said he was not going to give up on the effort and encouraged his fellow commissioners to visit Taylor Landing.