Severn River group revamps leadership


The "old" guard that transformed the Severn River Association into one of Anne Arundel's largest civic and environmental groups made way for the new last week.

Jim Martin, an Annapolis activist and owner of the Free State Press, replaces Colby Rucker as president. Marion Warren, a Annapolis photographer, and Ned Hall, a retired surveyor, have been elected as first and second vice presidents.

It marks the first time in more than a decade that Rucker, past president Stuart Morris and Cliff Andrew have not held an elected post. The three have served as president nine of the past 11 years.

At Tuesday's monthly meeting, Rucker recalled the transformation he, Morris and Andrew engineered in the early 1980s, nearly tripling the association's membership and expanding its influence throughout the 70-square-mile watershed.

The group began with fewer than 200 members. Today, it includes about 500 individual members and 106 neighborhood organizations under its umbrella.

"Coming into the 1990s, not only do we realize that us 'youngsters' are now considered the old guard, but a new agenda lies before us," said Rucker. He served as president in the early 1980s.

During the past decade, the association was a driving force behind the creation of the Severn River Commission, which advises the county and state on development issues in the watershed; the creation of the Severn River Land Trust; and the preservation of open spaces around the river. The association also was a potent force in the county's 1988 comprehensive rezoning.

In the past, the association has focused on how to best use the land, Martin said. But, since much of the river is already developed, "We need to begin to look at how to protect the water quality," he said.

Martin said residents should be able to enjoy the river by swim ming and fishing it.

"When I was a kid, if you wanted to go swimming you just jumped into the creek," said Martin, 43. "You can't do that any more."

The group already sponsors Operation Clear Water, which monitors community beaches for bacterial contamination. But Martin said he would like to see the groups efforts expanded. During the next year, he hopes the organization can develop standards "for what we want the water quality to be," and work toward that.

"Ultimately, I'd like to see kids swimming in Spa Creek and not have their parents have apoplexy over it," he said.

Martin said Rucker, Andrew, Morris and former president Robin Ireland will continue to participate in the association. "They'll still be players in the game, coaching us, advising us, directing us," he said.

The new officers will be installed at the group's 82nd anniversary meeting June 16.

"This past year has been a sort of field of dreams for me," Rucker said last week. "I've enjoyed it, but it's time for me to go back to the cornfield."

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