Ocean City Boat Ramp Channel Concerns Raised

OCEAN CITY — With a new public boat ramp under construction at 64th Street, concerns continue to be raised about the future of the old ramp in the Little Salisbury community and nearby navigation channel.

In July, ground was broken on a new public boat ramp at 64th Street, setting in motion a series of future operational plans for the decades-old public boat ramp in the Little Salisbury community. Several options were considered including leaving the facility as an attended ramp and adjusting the fees and hours of operation, installing an automated gate system and restricting its use to Ocean City, or even Little Salisbury, residents only, leasing or selling the ramp to a private entity, or abandoning it altogether.

Last month, after considerable debate, the Mayor and Council voted on a hybrid approach including an unattended boat ramp at Little Salisbury with an automated gate. Boaters will be able to purchase a seasonal pass for around $50 including a swipe card to activate the gate. However, with the new ramp coming along at 64th Street, concerns were raised this week not with the automated gate plan, but the navigational channel around the facility.

Councilman Dennis Dare said on Monday he decided to pull his own boat out of the water during the anticipated threat of Tropical Storm Hermine earlier this month and realized it was in need of some attention. With the new boat ramp coming in under budget, Dare questioned of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) could dedicate some of the excess funds to clear the channel at the old boat ramp.

“During the storm, I pulled my boat out and realized just how narrow the channel is for the Little Salisbury boat ramp,” he said. “My hope is with the new boat ramp coming in under budget, the city manager and the city engineer could look and see if there is any grant money available to keep that channel dredged.”

Dare said the channel is narrow and shallow now, and will likely deteriorate when more boaters start to use the new ramp.

“With more traffic to the new boat ramp, the Little Salisbury channel is going to silt in even more because of the lack of activity,” he said.

Council President Lloyd Martin said the issues could be revisited when more information becomes available.

“I know there have been some concerns about the old boat ramp, particularly with it being unmanned,” he said. “I think this is something we need to look at bringing back for more discussion.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.