County to consider turning over ownership of Williams Wharf

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Mar 14, 2012 - 05:04 PM

Ownership of Williams Wharf Landing will be the topic of a public hearing before the Mathews County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 27. The meeting will be held in the historic courthouse, starting at 1 p.m.

Last month, the board heard arguments for and against abandoning a long-standing 30-foot public easement on the property in order to gain a perpetual public easement over the entire landing. It has until June to decide on that issue.

This time around, however, the discussion will be about the county turning ownership of the landing itself over to the Mathews Land Conservancy.

Under a 1994 contract, the county agreed to accept a $702,000 federal ISTEA grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation on behalf of the Mathews Land Conservancy for the purpose of developing Williams Wharf for "preservation, hands-on experience, and education." A subsequent grant brought the federal funding to $1.052 million.

All of the development work was to be done by the land conservancy, including raising the money to pay a 22 percent match on the grant, based on the understanding that the conservancy would be the eventual owner of the property. County attorney Richard Harfst insisted that Mathews County hold the deed on the property because the county was liable for making sure the money was spent properly.