Letter: The case for dredging Put-In Creek
My wife and I love living in Mathews. My three (grown) sons were raised here and will always call this place home. I have worked here for 25 years in the woods and on the water. We consider ourselves very lucky to be part of this community and want very much to see Mathews County thrive and grow responsibly in the foreseeable future.
I have watched the public’s interest and heard the discussions about dredging Put-In Creek wax and wane over the years, like the rise and fall of the tide.
I knew Wayne Hudgins, rest his soul, and I think he was really on to something. He recognized the unique situation and opportunity that we have and I think that we owe it to ourselves and to our children to keep the discussion about Put-In Creek alive.
It is not news to anyone reading this letter that Mathews has a rich history of shipbuilding, hard-working watermen and a very special place on the Chesapeake Bay. But whether we like it or not, things are changing in the "outside" world that will affect the way we live.
We have all waited in line in traffic as construction on the new sewer line creeps ever closer to the courthouse. We all owe a "thank you" to the person or persons who made this happen. It is time for the sewage treatment plant that is on Put-In Creek to go and give us a chance to polish the gem that we call Mathews Court House.
With the treatment plant gone, we will have the perfect place for boaters to come into town and bring their much-appreciated business with them.
Places like the Court House and its proximity to what could be navigable waters are few and far between. If a boater could make our creek his destination, he would find that, within walking distance, he would have restaurants, hardware, groceries, art shops, a fantastic library, engine repair facilities, barber shops, etc. etc.
The list goes on.
And if the Court House prospers, so will the whole county. The business that boaters would bring here would benefit everyone who lives here. Whether it is from the sale of food, gas or a nice painting from the Bay School, the money that they would bring can keep Mathews on her own course and not be so much under the influential steerage of national politics and economics. The colorful and rich maritime past that is rooted here would be a true pearl of the Chesapeake if we showcase it as a living history for all visitors to see.
But what we need for that to happen is a way to expand on that history by bringing sailors and the sons and daughters of sailors into the county seat via the East River and Put-In Creek. No, it would not be easy. There are permits and paperwork; red tape and bureaucracy to deal with. But no one can tell me that it cannot be done. The fractional wetlands that are at the head of Put-In Creek now are there because of the rich human fertilizer that clogs the natural open waterway.
The run-off from cleared fields and other man-made influences, i.e., sewage, are what silted the creek in.
With today’s engineering, it would not take long to open the creek up to navigation. A turning basin would allow transient boaters an opportunity to experience this great place, and bring with them the means of economic sustenance for the county.
It would also take us back a few steps to a time when Mathews’ prosperity was centered more on the water when, after all, the water is what made Mathews such a great place to live in the first place.
The opportunities would be endless, limited only by our creativeness. Yes, there would be issues to deal with and problems will arise and not everyone will agree on everything, that’s a given. But any project like this that is really worth doing is going to have its share of issues.
If you don’t think that we can do it, just look at the places that have done it successfully—Onancock, Smithfield and Cape Charles are just a few of the places that come to mind.
Wouldn’t it be great to make "Westville" a destination for boaters that would be the envy of the Bay?