Ocean City Today

County to start planning Greys Creek park

Commissioners sign off on demolishing structure, site plan in works for property
By Brian Gilliland | Jul 13, 2017

(July 14, 2017) Two actions were undertaken by the Worcester County Commissioners last week to begin development of Greys Creek Nature Park just south of the Maryland-Delaware line, east of Bishopville.

The first was a public hearing about removing a structure on one of the islands in the park. Finding no one against opposed to demolishing it, the commissioners agreed to raze it via a controlled burn conducted by the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company.

Environmental Programs Director Bob Mitchell said the controlled burn, doubling as a training exercise for the OCVFC utilizing its fire boat, would take place this fall.

The reasons for the delay are twofold. First, there are fewer people in the area during fall, which minimizes risk to bystanders. Second, Mitchell said an osprey has moved into the structure, and the birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which requires a permit for removal of a nest. The nests can be removed without a permit if no eggs or young are present.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, most ospreys that breed in North America migrate to Central or South America for the winter. Ospreys are different than other raptors in that they subsist on a diet of live fish, and will dive into the water to catch them.

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said he was recently in the area on his boat, and said the structure has basically fallen into the bay. He wondered what steps would be taken to remove debris from the water that couldn’t be reached during the controlled burn.

Mitchell responded that a plan would be developed in the interim.

Next for the park, Recreation and Parks Director Paige Hurley presented the commissioners with an application to the Public Access, Water Trails and Recreation Planning Program offered through the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

If approved by the state, the county would receive technical assistance to conduct surveys and collect data in order to develop a concept plan for water access and trails within Greys Creek.

According to the application, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program would manage the park as a passive recreation and environmental education center, while the county would provide site maintenance.

The coastal bays program is developing a plan for the park, which is expected to be submitted to the commissioners early next year.

A potential problem for the park was avoided, as the residents of Hidden Harbor were concerned that access would be routed through the neighborhood, but that situation was avoided when an alternate path was found.

The commissioners voted unanimously to allow the application, planning and controlled burn preparations to proceed.

The county acquired the land for the park in 2006, but the economic downturn stalled plans to develop it for more than a decade.


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