Editorial: Second best
Mathews County supervisors have approved matching funds for a proposed National Park Service grant that would build a boardwalk and dock at the head of Put-In Creek at Mathews Court House.
They deserve points for working to improve public access and for helping the Main Street Committee use every channel available to boost business downtown.
In this case, the channel is very shallow. Indeed, since a Depression-era hand dredging of the upper reaches of the creek, with no maintenance work since then but plenty of nutrients put in for decades by two sewage treatment plants (thankfulll gone now), the marsh grass has thrived.
The amount sought is $176,000, with the county to put up half, if the grant is approved. We tend to agree with board member Janine Burns. That is a lot of money to build a dock. She said the projected cost of the project is "absurd" (Gazette-Journal, Sept. 19, 2013).
In fact, it is a dock to … where? So much grass has accumulated in the former turning basin that some wonder if the dock can even reach the water or provide enough space for a small vessel to turn around. Build it a bit on the "downstream" side of the property, it was suggested, not in the location of the present grass-bound dock. That way, kayaks and canoes may be able to reach it … at high tide.
In fact, it seems apparent that county authorities and the public have given up on a long-held dream: dredging to restore a navigable waterway to Mathews Court House where, it is believed by some historians, the waters were once so deep that ships were built there.
So Mathews is settling for second best … some kind of outlet, however shallow, to open waters. We believe the money would be better applied to a long-range dredging fund. Rather than build a dock to nowhere now, perhaps we should save money for a highway to the world.