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Community celebrates the opening of a 'recreational treasure'

Nov 04, 2015 01:54PM ● Published by Richard Gaw


By Steven Hoffman, Staff Writer

At precisely 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 5, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, former Delaware governor Mike Castle, and Chesapeake City Mayor Dean Geracimos arrived at the north side public dock aboard the Miss Clare Ferry Boat. They were greeted by dozens of people—Chesapeake City residents, government officials, and trail users—to celebrate the opening of the Maryland segment of the C&D Canal Recreational Trail, and to honor Sen. Cardin for his efforts to make the trail a reality.

"Chesapeake City is now officially a trail town," said Geracimos proudly. "This is not just a great day, but an historic day."

The brand new 1.8-mile trail segment, which was officially dedicated as the Ben Cardin Trail on Oct. 5, connects to the Mike Castle Trail in Delaware, forming a 17-mile trail that stretches from Delaware City to Chesapeake City for runners, walkers, and bicyclists to enjoy.

"Our residents are going to be able to enjoy the trail on a daily basis," Geracimos said, explaining that the trail will also attract more visitors to town and provide economic development opportunities for Chesapeake City.

Cardin talked about the importance of the trails to communities in the area.

"Completion of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Trail has been one of my top priorities," Cardin said. "The trail is a recreational treasure and the $2 million in federal funds ensures the completion of the trail, which will attract tourists who want to enjoy the experience of hiking and biking between Chesapeake City, Maryland and Delaware City, Delaware."

Cardin credited Castle, the former governor and U.S. Congressman from Delaware, with leading the effort to create a trail linking the public lands in Delaware and Maryland.

The effort began way back in 2004, when Delaware residents supported the use of public lands bordering the waterway for a trail. Castle’s trail concept quickly became a bipartisan effort when Cardin, then a Maryland Congressman, also saw the potential for the trail.

Public meetings took place throughout 2005 and 2006 in both Delaware and Maryland because the trail would be located in New Castle County, Del. and Cecil County, Md. The concept plan was completed in 2006, and the Army Corps of Engineers prepared the engineering design of the 17-mile trail in 2009.

In his remarks to the crowd, Castle noted that many different people worked to make the trail a reality.

"It was persistence over several years…that allowed this to take place," Castle explained.

Chesapeake City submitted the funding application toward the end of 2011. Chesapeake City found out that it had received the $2 million in funding from the Public Land Highways Discretionary Program in 2012. Geracimos, a local businessman, had just taken office as the mayor of Chesapeake City a few months before the funding was announced. Completion of the trail was one of the top goals when he entered office.

"We had a vision when we started a few years back," Geracimos said. "We wanted to improve the quality of life here. We wanted to improve the town."

One of the leading proponents for the trail project was council member Bert Wells, who initiated the idea of honoring Senator Cardin by naming the Chesapeake City trail segment after him.

It took a lot of collaboration to create the trail. The 14-mile C&D Canal waterway is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. The canal is surrounded by more than 7,500 acres of public land, including natural environmental resources, state parks, heritage tourism sites, and marinas. Some of the entities involved with the trail include the Army Corps of Engineers, Chesapeake City, the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and the Maryland Department of Planning.

The Army Corps of Engineers retains ownership of the trail land, but entered into the required lease agreement to allow the project to proceed. Tim Kelly served as the Army Corps of Engineers project manager for the trail, and the Army Corps of Engineers oversaw and managed the construction for the project. The Army Corps of Engineers also has a five-year maintenance agreement for the trail.

These various collaborations have resulted in a trail that is perfect for cycling, running, jogging, walking, hiking, inline skating, or roller skating. The community will see the benefits of the trail for many years.

The trail is already earning positive reviews. Gary Kirk and Jan King, members of the Wilmington Trail Club, said that the trail is very enjoyable.

"It’s wonderful," said Kirk, explaining that the Delaware segment of the trail is already attracting a lot of visitors.

"It’s a fairly easy trail," King added. He explained that there’s no need for expensive equipment to have a good ride on the trail.

Carla Miners, the director of economic development & tourism for Chesapeake City, said that the trail will be used heavily by local residents and by visitors.

One frequent user of the trail will be Cardin himself. He said that he and his grandchildren often look for trails to ride on the weekend.

According to Geracimos, the completion of the Ben Cardin segment of the C&D Canal Recreational Trail is only the first step of providing recreational opportunities for residents. The final designs for another trail that starts on the south side of Chesapeake City and runs along Route 213 to the middle school and high school and then to the Cecil County Public Library are underway. This future link to the trail will provide a bicycling and walking option for students, and will keep them off routes that are heavily traveled by motorists. If everything goes well, work on this trail will start in the spring of 2016, and will be completed by the end of the year.

To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@chestercounty.com.


Chesapeake City becomes a trail town

The C&D Canal trail links the Delaware communities of Delaware City, St. Georges, Summit/Middletown, as well as Delaware's Lums Pond State Park to Chesapeake City in Maryland. Each community along the trail has its own unique history and heritage. The new trailhead in Chesapeake City provides an in-season (April through October) ferry service to the town's south side with its nationally recognized Historic District, quaint shops, and well-known restaurants.




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