As part of CBMM’s dedication to investing in community partnerships, I wanted to give you an update on many of the happenings at CBMM.
With spring just around the corner, we’re furiously gearing up for the thousands of K-12 school children who’ll soon be arriving on campus as part of their Chesapeake Bay environmental and STEM school curriculum. Youth in our Rising Tide after-school boatbuilding program are busy designing, welding, and building their entry into the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race. Our work constructing the new log canoe Caroline is a marvel to behold; and our two-year restoration of the 1912 tug Delaware is kicking off. And have you read that on June 1, CBMM’s Shipyard begins construction of a reproduction of the 1634 Maryland Dove?! New community partnerships have been achieved, extending our vision of social responsibility–more plainly said, we are leveraging our resources to help those in our community by working together to help lift all–including the Benedictine School, Talbot Mentors, Talbot Hospice, CASA, ARC, ShoreRivers, SOS Sink or Swim, and many, many more.
We are also working on implementing the Master Plan we commissioned in 2018 to help guide CBMM into the next few decades. Phase 1 includes a new Exhibition Building on Navy Point, which is imperative for us to be able to showcase the best of our collections. It will also enable us to exhibit objects from other national and international collections, as well as to expand our current Library & Collections facility, again to serve you with cutting edge, best-museum practises.
This increased programming and activity invariably means we need to increase our parking. For the last three years we have been negotiating with the Town of St. Michaels to purchase a contiguous property at 301 Mill Street, which is commonly referred to as “the Skateboard Park,” but has always been used as a sewage pumping property. The ultimate use and value of the property has been under review and debate, as to whether or not the property can be built on. The Town has recently discussed that the property may be put out for bid.
We need your help, to help St. Michaels and the Town Commissioners understand that the Sewage Pumping property is not suitable for construction, and that the highest and best use for the property is to maintain it as a parking lot. If CBMM purchases the property, CBMM will develop a parking lot at CBMM’s expense, for St. Michaels and CBMM. Please read on!
Why does CBMM not wish to build at 301 Mill Street?
First, some background:
In a letter dated February 16, 2016, CBMM wrote to the Town of St. Michaels (TOSM) to explore the possibility of securing approval to build a Small Craft Heritage Center (SCHC) on 107 Mill Street (the “Pinkett” property), contiguous property CBMM owns. TOSM responded, that instead of building on the Pinkett property, would CBMM consider a property purchase and sale—the Pinkett property for the TOSM-owned 301 Mill Street (the Sewage Pumping property) for CBMM to build the SCHC ? (CBMM would pay TOSM the price difference between the two properties.) Then, TOSM would have the opportunity to expand its current public parking on the corner of Mill and Talbot streets, to include the Pinkett property.
Both the Sewage Pumping property and the Pinkett property are zoned Maritime Museum (MM). That zoning’s intent and purpose can be found here.
CBMM initiated a review process of the Sewage Pumping property (at its own expense), and, albeit knowing that the lot is buildable to some extent, resolved not to construct a building on the Sewage Pumping property because of the following conditions:
Condition: Public parking is at a premium in St. Michaels, and everyone bemoans this fact. The Sewage Pumping property is currently used for parking and is full to capacity when the Town or CBMM holds events, such as WineFest, running festivals, Waterman’s Appreciation Day, July 4th, or OysterFest. Neighboring residents and B&B guests also take advantage of the parking spaces on the Sewage Pumping property.
Decision: By CBMM developing organized, sealed parking on the Sewage Pumping property, and TOSM the same on the Pinkett property–both free to the public–this would be a win-win for everyone in town. By combining CBMM’s current parking with 301 Mill Street, this would create 166 car spaces, plus five bus parking spaces. In addition, this parking would be on the edge of town, and not taking up valuable space in town.
Condition: Climate change and storm surge and their effects on the Chesapeake Bay is real. The Sewage Pumping property’s maximum altitude is 7ft. Already when southerlies hit the Bay, Mill Street floods in front of the Sewage Pumping property. This scenario will only worsen over the decades.
Decision: CBMM is planning for the future. All of CBMM’s new buildings are being elevated for this purpose. We anticipated that the effect of flooding on the Sewage Pumping property would be greater than the rest of campus, and that a parking lot would be less affected.
Condition: The maximum building envelope on 301 Mill Street is 22,519 sf (see drawing below), the maximum lot coverage is 30% (6,756 sf), leaving a buildable area of 15,763 sf (which includes necessary associated use parking). If the use of this lot is changed, a special exception or variance may be required to accommodate associated parking in the buffer and set-back areas.
Decision: Under the current conditions, the site does not have enough room to construct a building of CBMM’s desired size, with the necessary parking spaces. Parking on the 100ft buffer section of the overall property (nearly 40%) would be permeable.
Condition: On the western side of the property is an active County-owned sewage pump station. Sewage tankers regularly transfer sewage pumped from local septic tanks into this pump station. CBMM already owns the southwest corner of that access point.
Decision: CBMM did not want to build an active exhibition-centric building with high visitation numbers next-door to an active sewage pumping station. CBMM resolved that it would deed an access drive to the County, free of charge, to allow tankers easy access to the station.
Condition: A myriad of active and inactive sewage pipes run under the Sewage Pumping property (see same drawing), and not all have been discovered and therefore not mapped. It is known that an active forced main runs from The Inn at Perry Cabin, and another from CBMM’s Steamboat Building, to the sewage pumping station. Also, building codes don’t allow construction on top of active gravity fed or forced main sewer lines.
On behalf of CBMM, a professional engineer looked at the site, and the current (inadequate) sewage pipe map. They estimated that to find, move and relocate all the pipes that would be necessary to build on the Sewage Pumping property, the cost would range from $300k to $1M.
Decision: The cost for a not-for-profit to move the sewer lines would be prohibitive. We therefore resolved that by building an improved parking lot over the Sewage Pumping property would not only better serve the Town and CBMM over the long haul, but would also allow possible future maintenance issues to more easily be handled.
I ask for your help. As CBMM works to expand its mission-related programming, while also helping to drive increased tourism and business to St. Michaels and the Eastern Shore, we require more parking, preferably on contiguous property. Purchasing 301 Mill Street (the Sewage Pumping property) from the Town of St. Michaels will allow us to achieve this goal.
CBMM’s parking is free to all, and available to all, whether shopping and dining in St. Michaels, picking succulent crabs at The Crab Claw Restaurant, or exploring the Miles River on the Patriot.
How can you help support CBMM’s goal of purchasing 301 Mill Street?
Thank you for asking! Attend TOSM’s Town Commissioners monthly meetings, and voice your support for CBMM during the public comments opportunity at the beginning of the meetings. You can find their meeting dates here. OR you can write to or email the Town Commissioners via the Town office with your support for CBMM’s purchase of 301 Mill Street: Town of St. Michaels Commissioners ℅ Jean Weisman Town Manager PO Box 206 St. Michaels, MD 21663 email@example.com
Please support CBMM’s plan to purchase 301 Mill Street, to help achieve our mission. Thank you! And feel free to contact me direct: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristen L. Greenaway
President, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum