Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary is considering three sites for a possible public boat ramp. If he makes the right decision, it might be one of his most popular moves.
By the same token, if he fumbles, residents will be angry.
Anne Arundel boaters have complained for years about insufficient launch facilities. The county currently has only two public boat ramps, at Sandy Point State Park and at Annapolis' Truxtun Park, even though it has 432 miles of shoreline. Many boaters must travel a distance to launch their craft. Some end up going to other counties -- particularly on the Eastern Shore -- where more ramps exist. Talbot has 14, Somerset and Dorchester 15 apiece.
"It's a real sore subject. I've lived in Anne Arundel County for 35 years and there's never been a place you could put your boat over but here," Pasadena resident Richard Williams said after towing his boat out of the water at Sandy Point.
While boaters would welcome more ramps, residents of areas under consideration worry about increased traffic and noise in the waterways. County officials say these concerns are legitimate because any new boat ramp is likely to be mobbed from the day it opens.
The sites under consideration are Green Haven Wharf, a county-owned parcel on Stony Creek; a 136-acre property, also on Stony Creek, and a 110-acre property off Main Creek.
"The problem is that every time you propose one of these things, the people who live [nearby] complain about the traffic," Mr. Gary says.
In the past, county officials and fishing enthusiasts tried to persuade Baltimore to install a boat ramp at its Fort Smallwood Park, which lies five miles from the city line in Anne Arundel County. City officials balked at the expense, arguing that the ramp would provide little benefit to city residents. We still think the Fort Smallwood site is an ideal one. But instead of asking the city to pay for the expense, Anne Arundel County government should offer to pay for a public ramp. That location would be most accessible to the populous, underserved north county. It would be a common-sense move toward metropolitan cooperation. If Mr. Gary makes an offer the city can't refuse, we are sure a ramp can be built at Fort Smallwood Park.