CAMBRIDGE — The City of Cambridge, in partnership with Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and Dorchester County, will acquire a parcel of land behind the dilapidated Phillips Packing Company building for a park, according to a news release from ESLC.
The Maryland Board of Public works last week approved $100,000 (half state and half local) of Program Open Space funding for the acquisition. The City and ESLC are providing the remaining $110,550 for the project.
“Cannery Park represents a new frontier for ESLC — using our land protection skills to help build beautiful, livable and prosperous communities for the long term,” Rob Etgen, executive director for ESLC, said.
The 6.6-acre park in the geographic center of the city will provide many benefits to Cambridge, according to ESLC. Plans include a dog park, a skateboard park, a community garden, and an opportunity to tell the story of Cambridge’s industrial past. It also could become a trailhead for a rails-to-trails system.
It also offers a unique opportunity to improve water quality in an urban context, ESLC said. The city plans to include major stream restorations to the headwaters of Cambridge Creek, which is the drainage area of about 100 acres to the former packing company.
Although newly approved, the park plan has led to a lot of interest in adaptive reuse of the factory, Cambridge City Planner Anne Roane said.
“It’s a classic example,” Roane said. “It just reinforces what we know, which is that green space adds value to adjacent properties. It can pull the trigger on economic development — and this (project) speaks to that. And it is in a part of town that could use some revitalization and stabilization. It’s not just the added different recreational experiences and the environmental benefits. Without even a shovel in the ground, it’s already triggering economic development.”
Since 2007, the Board of Public Works (a three-member board including Gov. Martin O’Malley as chairman, Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot) has approved funding for 1,443 recreational projects, totaling more than $385 million through Program Open Space and the Community Parks and Playgrounds Program, according to ESLC.
“Program Open Space ensures families in communities all across Maryland can conveniently enjoy the exciting natural wonders and diverse recreational opportunities found throughout our state,” O’Malley said.
Since 1969, Program Open Space has provided funding to preserve 370,226 acres for open space and recreation areas, ESLC said, and most Maryland residents live within 15 minutes of an open space or recreational area funded by Program Open Space.
Since its founding in 1990, ESLC has helped to protect nearly 57,000 acres on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the organization said.