2.7 Location of the Major Attraction

From the very beginning, the center of Crisfield’s economic activity/traffic was at the Depot; this is where the industry of opportunity began and sustained the city for almost a century.  All measures should be taken to have the CA&DC constructed at the Depot

The blue shaded area is the proposed perimeter for the Chesapeake Adventure & Discovery Center (CA&DC).

There are countless reasons for this, one of which that has been previously mentioned, and this is that all traffic will pass almost every business in town on their way to and from the CA&DC.  

The fact that Crisfield was built to produce economic opportunity can not be overstressed, and it was all centered at the Depot.  Nowadays, the Depot – which is Crisfield’s most valuable piece of propertyproduces very little revenue for the city.  On any given day or evening, it’s rare to see even a single person on the decked area or on the pavilion.  This should not be.

Constructing the CA&DC at the Depot will result in drastic changes for downtown Crisfield, including vehicle traffic, zoning and other conditions – some of which will be addressed in later sections.   From the outset – if the proposal for the CA&DC is considered further – all information on city, county, state and federal laws and regulations pertinent to building an attraction at the Depot should be researched.  If there are existing laws/restrictions that are relevant, immediate action should be taken to have them changed at a legislative level to prevent delays in constructing the CA&DC.  

A Forthcoming Public Safety Hazard:
In the very near future, action will have to be taken at the Depot.  It can not be disputed that the entire structure is not many years from being unsafe for visitors.  Even now, the decking boards and railings are splintering at a rapid pace, which will likely result in injuries.  

Photo of a large pile of pigeon droppings at the Depot Pavilion.  (Sept. 2019)

Incidentally, I provide walking tours for the American Cruise Lines ships when they come to town.  In June of 2019 I was greeting passengers coming off the ship to do my tour, and one lady (who was in her late 60’s), tripped on a nail that was protruding 1/2” above a deck board.  Fortunately, I caught her and smoothed things over, then I placed something over the nail, did my tour and afterwards I went back with a hammer and drove the nail down, and a few others as well.  However, these nails will rise again because the joists below no longer have the density needed to secure fasteners.   

In addition to the rails and decking, the cedar shingles on the pavilion roof are long past their lifetime and will increasingly be blown off in the next few years – which will cause leaks.  

Photo of the Pavilion at the Depot.  The red circles are locations where the cedar shingles have either blown off, or are severely damaged.

Among the most serious issues that I’ve seen with the structural integrity of the pavilion is the corrosion of the connector-plates of the roof-trusses.  These are galvanized pieces of metal, approximately 1/16” thick that hold the truss-members together with teeth that go into the wood no more than 1/8”.  The problem is, if even one of these connectors rust to the point where it can no longer handle the load or wind-stress, it will fail, that particular truss will collapse and the remaining trusses will likely follow.

Photo of a truss connector plate from the Depot Pavilion.  (Sept. 2019)
These connector plates – which are extremely corroded  – are the primary component supporting the roof.  (Sept. 2019)

Future of the Depot:
Two of the Primary Options are, 1) Do nothing to the Depot and likely repeat what happened to the Island-Boat loading area during Hurricane Sandy.  Crisfield will again receive negative exposure when the media flocks here to cover the damage.  The mayor and/or other elected officials will be interviewed like it was done during Sandy, and they will have to make statements about how Crisfield doesn’t have money to rebuild.  Then, the Depot will be barricaded and Crisfield will have to wait to do repairs when/if relief money is issued.  

Photo of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.

The other option 2) Take an inventory of the situation at the Depot as it now exists, devise a plan to how the Depot, if rebuilt, can serve as the facilitator to create a new industry, an industry of opportunity, one that will lift the commercial activity of not only Crisfield, but that of all Somerset County by building an attraction that will become the center of a historic corridor that will include Crisfield, Smith Island (& Tangier), Princess Anne and Deal Island as well.  This will require a substantial amount of effort, but the expansion of the economy, tax-base, etc., of Somerset that will result, will actually make the Depot project an investment.