A bicyclist gets on the C & D Canal trail in Delaware and heads west, following the water toward Chesapeake City. From there, she takes the Miss Clare ferry across the water to have lunch and spend an afternoon browsing the shops along Bohemia Avenue.
Meanwhile, a family from Biddle Street picks up a different spur of the trail to get to Helen Titter Park.
South of town, a group of Bohemia Manor students uses the southern leg of trail to walk back home from school, avoiding the high-speed traffic on Augustine Herman Highway.
That’s the ambitious vision Chesapeake City officials laid out Monday, following news that the town has received a $2 million federal grant to fund the canal-side trail.
“It’s going to be a huge asset to the city,” Mayor Dean Geracimos said at a press conference that officially announced the plans and also trumpeted an early-term success for a mayor who vowed to use grants to improve the town.
Geracimos acknowledged that much of the credit for the grant goes to the former administration and staff, but that couldn’t stop him from breaking into a grin Monday.
“I’m on cloud nine now, but we’ll be getting to work soon,” he said.
The centerpiece of the plan will be a 17-mile, federally funded trail connecting the town to Delaware City, a small town on the Delaware River. In the planning stages for several years, construction on Delaware’s portion began last month.
Chesapeake City will assume responsibility for the 1.8-mile segment from the state line along the north side of the canal to the town dock near Schaefer’s Canal House.
The project will convert the current gravel service road into a multi-use pedestrian and bicycle trail. Vehicular traffic will no longer be permitted, Geracimos said.
“It’s hardly being used or used by the wrong people,” he said.
A ceremonial groundbreaking is set for the end of the month. Geracimos said he hopes to be able to announce detailed plans and a timetable then, noting that he expects construction to begin within a few months.
At the same time, the town will begin building its own network of trails, starting with a segment going from the canal trail to Helen Titter Park.
Geracimos, who hired a fulltime grant writer when he took office in June, hopes to get more grants to pay for much of the project.
The trails are part of a broader, nine-part restoration plan the town is developing. Other parts will include improving landscaping, building new sidewalks, burying utility wires and making other improvements to the business district.
Officials will present the plan to the public at a meeting Aug. 27.
“We hope it will be a worksheet for the town for several years,” Geracimos said.