Bringing the shoreline to life : London Towne community
focuses on its waterfront
By PAMELA WOOD, Staff Writer Under
a hot summer sun last year, members of the London Towne Property Owners
Association accepted a $30,000 grant to help in shoring up the community's
waterfront land. That money has been turned into giant piles of stone,
massive stretches of sand and scores of tiny grass plants along a 300-foot
stretch of Almshouse Creek on the South River.
"When the community was built, the idea was to bulkhead it and
mow right to the water," said Stephen Hult, the association's secretary.
But green grass all the way to the water hasn't worked over
the years for this waterfront community in Edgewater. In some cases,
wave action has eaten away at the banks, leaving a steep drop down
to the water. The erosion undermined the root structure of trees, sending
them toppling into the water.
So section by section, the community association has replaced
eroded banks and old bulkheads with modern shoreline techniques.
In the latest section, workers from Edgewater-based Shoreline
Design placed giant rocks parallel to the shoreline of Almshouse
Creek to slow wave action and eventually trap sand behind them
when the tide comes in. Sand also was trucked to the shoreline,
and earlier this month a crew from Cub Scout Pack 815 and Boy Scout
Troop 815 planted 1,100 grasses in a steady drizzle.
The $68,880 project was paid for with the $30,000 federal
grant awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, $36,000
from the community's coffers and $2,880 worth of donated plants
This type of shoreline - often called a living shoreline
- is designed to withstand the forces of winds, waves and weather
in a more natural manner. It's also more friendly to wildlife,
offering a gradual, plant-filled transition from land to water.
In some of the already-restored sections of shoreline
in London Towne, residents have spotted crabs, herons, muskrats
and other critters.
The completion of the latest project brings the
community association's total accomplishments to half a
mile of restored shoreline. That's about the equivalent
of two laps around a high school track.
The community has about 3 miles of shoreline to
maintain, so there's plenty of work still to do. Leaders
of the community association have been aggressive in
getting grants to pay for the work.
Because the 2,000-home neighborhood also is
a special tax district - property owners pay extra
on their county tax bills - the community has a predictable
stream of money coming in. That's important because
many environmental grants come with the stipulation
that the recipient must come up with matching funds.
The community has an erosion committee, led
by Mr. Hult, to plan projects and apply for grants.
Tom Walsh, the association's vice president
and former chairman of the erosion committee, said
it hasn't been difficult to get neighbors on board
with the projects. Property owners even agreed
to increase their own tax to pay for more projects.
"The community as a whole is very much
in support of the effort," Mr. Walsh said.
South Riverkeeper Drew Koslow, who has
helped with the projects, commended the residents
of London Towne for taking the initiative to
improve the shoreline.
"It's what it's going to take," he
said. "A couple conservation groups aren't
going to be able to do it. It's going to
be people all around the bay taking responsibility
for where they live."
Next up for London Towne is restoring
a 500-foot section of Almshouse Creek.
Members of the erosion committee
don't plan to stop there. They'll keep
plugging away, so long as their neighbors
are willing to spend part of their community
tax on the shoreline, and so long as
grants are available.
"We're doing about as much as
we can manage," Mr. Hult said.
Published June 11, 2007, The Capital,