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Shoreline Improvement Program


Why is the College proposing to construct new shoreline facilities?

The shoreline at the College has been eroding for decades. In front of the Rowing Center, about 25 feet have been lost over the past 25 years. Furthermore, in the area adjacent to Route 5, north of the inlet to St. John's Pond, erosion now threatens Route 5.

How is the College proposing to deal with the erosion problem?

Consistent with its commitment to environmental stewardship, the College proposes the establishment of new wetlands along Route 5 as "living shorelines." "Living Shorelines" utilize environmentally friendly techniques that provide erosion control benefits, while also enhancing the natural aquatic and terrestrial shoreline habitat. The proposed 1,000 feet of new living shoreline will extend from the inlet to St. John's Pond to the inlet to Fisher's Creek.

The area that has been the College's traditional recreational waterfront will require a shoreline protection plan that halts erosion while allowing access to the river. Launching of kayaks, windsurfers and other small watercraft requires beach access that cannot be easily provided through living shoreline techniques. Similar to the College's existing pier, a new pier will be provided in front of the Rowing Center that will include a wave screen to diminish the damaging effects of wave action against the shore. Integrated into the plan will be a boat ramp, a section of pier for launching crew shells, and a limited amount of improved beach to enhance recreational programs.

How does the pier protect the shoreline?

Studies by a number of engineers show that most erosion at the College waterfront occurs when northwesterly winds drive waves across the long fetch of Horseshoe Bend onto the shoreline. As much as a foot of shoreline has been lost in some locations during a single storm event. The new pier will be constructed with wave screens, similar to those on the existing pier, that will diminish the energy of the waves during storms and thus provide protection to the shoreline on the leeward side of the new pier.

Has the Rowing Center or River Center contributed to the erosion problems?

No. The erosion in front of the Rowing Center has been ongoing for over 30 years.

Why did the College place sand bags in front of the Rowing Center?

The sand bags were installed as a temporary measure to halt further erosion until the permanent shoreline protection measures can be put in place.

How large is new pier?

The initial concept for the shoreline improvements called for a pier of nearly identical size of the existing pier. The College is working with engineers to determine if the new pier and wave screen can be reduced in size while still providing the benefits for protecting the shoreline. A revised concept will be presented at the next public meeting of the College and City Capital Design Advisory (CDA) scheduled for November 13th.

What is the visual impact of the new Pier?

Driving north on Route 5, the new pier will not be visible until after passing the new Rowing Center. Driving south on Route 5, the new pier will be visible in the foreground in front of the existing pier.

Does the project include a boardwalk?

No.

Is there any impact to archaeology?

Both the archaeologists at Historic St. Mary's City and the Maryland Historical Trust have reviewed the proposed shoreline project. In November 2006, the Maryland Historic Trust determined that: "Prior investigations have demonstrated that the area slated for shoreline improvements and stabilization does not contain intact archeological resources. The planned shoreline work will in fact help to protect upland cultural resources by reducing threats from erosion. The currently proposed shoreline work will not alter or diminish the characteristics that qualify the districts for eligibility in the National Register. Thus, it is our opinion that construction of the proposed shoreline erosion work will have no adverse effect on historic properties."

What is the status of the project and its anticipated schedule?

The College previously completed a conceptual design that has been reviewed by all relevant State and Federal agencies. The concept design incorporated both the shoreline improvements for the recreational area (Phase 1) and the living shoreline component of the project along Route 5 (Phase 2). Currently, the College is in process of awarding a contract for Phase 1 that will include development of a final design and construction. Final design and permitting of Phase 1 of the project is scheduled for late fall '08 through spring '09. Construction is planned for summer '09. Scheduling of Phase 2 of the project is to be determined based on funding availability (see below).

What are the costs and how has the project been funded?

The cost for Phase 1 of the project (the recreational area in front of the Rowing Center) is between $600,000 and $775,000. The primary source of funding is through the College's internal funds (not an appropriation from the State). A federal grant in the amount of $140,000 also supports the funding for Phase 1.

Phase 2 of the project (along Route 5) is estimated between $200,000 and $400,000. The Maryland Tidal Wetlands Division of the Maryland Department of Environment has allocated $100,000 of the statewide shoreline stabilization funds for this living shoreline phase. The balance of the funding is still undetermined.

How will the community benefit?

The protection of the shoreline will protect the waters of the St. Mary's River from further siltation caused by erosion. The improved water quality of the river is to everyone's benefit. In addition, the rowing launch pier, the new pier, and the beach area will provide additional recreational resources that will enhance community programs such as high school sailing, Special Olympics (sailing and kayaking) and the Brendan Sailing Camp.

What approval process has been followed?

The planning process for the shoreline improvements began over eight years ago and has been carefully approached in order to address a multitude of issues: effective stabilization of the eroding shoreline; sound environmental strategies that enhance habitat; enhanced access to the river; preservation of historic resources; and support for Special Olympics programs.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed an initial study in February of 2006.

Environmental review actions have been completed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidelines including public notification of the project in the summer of 2006.

The College has reviewed the proposed project extensively with numerous federal and state review agencies. In addition, the project has been reviewed by the Federal/State joint evaluation committee comprised of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Md. Department of the Environment (MDE), Md. Critical Areas Commission, Md. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Maryland Historical Trust.

Final permits will be sought as part of the design process beginning in early 2009.

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