Town could take bigger role in operating boat ramp area under proposed agreement

by Geoff Fox

Hancock officials were presented a draft of an agreement between the National Park Service and the town as to what work the town is able to do along the local portion of the C&O Canal and boat ramp area.

Katie Nash, the town’s lobbyist from Greenwill Consulting, presented the draft agreement at the July town meeting.

Nash said the memorandum of understanding between the town and Park Service covers “who does what” around the boat ramp area, including who would clear debris, mow, and perform routine maintenance.

The MOU would create the Hancock Cooperative Management Area (HCMA)

“We need to have this in place as we move forward with any upgrades,” Nash said, referring to any planned upgrades to the boat ramp.

The boat ramp project would be a multi-year project with design and engineering and grant funding. The bridge over the canal would also be included in that project.

Under the agreement, the town and NPS would work together to obtain all necessary permits and approvals required to design and construct the agreed upon improvements to the HCMA. The town could also seek grants for the project and ongoing maintenance, even though it doesn’t own the

Picnic area near boat dock along the Potomac River.

property.

Under maintenance section of the agreement, the town would operate, maintain, and manage the HCMA on a day-to-day basis, including making repairs to facilities.

The language of the document, Nash said, was taken from a similar document between the NPS and Williamsport.

According to the document, “the agreement seeks to provide the town more oversight in the management of the HCMA, specifically the area of the boat ramp.”

That area is very popular with locals and visitors passing through on the interstates.

According to the draft agreement, any revenue generated by activities conducted by the C&O Canal National Historic Park or Town of Hancock would be used for operation, maintenance and improvements to the boat ramp area. The Park Service and Hancock officials would create an official yearly Operation and Maintenance Plan that would lay out the following:

  • Required day-to-day maintenance and cyclical maintenance;
  • Normal hours of operation;
  • Expected minor and major capital repairs during the term of the agreement;
  • Regularly scheduled interpretive and other programming;
  • Any contracting plan for services;
  • Estimated budget and amount of anticipated monetary support by each party.
  • Assignment of responsibility for the Operation and Maintenance Plan;

Nash also gave town officials a list of items for consideration, including where to draw the boundaries of the Hancock Cooperative Management Area.

That boundary could be from the Bowles House to the 25-mile marker or something shorter, she said.

The scope of work that would be considered would be debris removal, mowing, trash removal, snow/ice removal and weatherization treatments, invasive species clearing, and road and parking lot maintenance.

The agreement, once signed, would be in effect for a term of 35 years, unless terminated earlier.

Nash said she expected to revisit the agreement with town officials in August, and hoped to finalize it before Park Superintendent Kevin Brandt retires at the end of September.

Hancock is one of the few towns along the canal where it and the towpath pass directly through into the business center of a town in Western Maryland, Nash said.

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