Frederick canít afford to go green
Carroll Creek and its linear park have been the hallmark accomplishment of Frederick’s renaissance for a generation of mayoral terms. Could all of this effort to develop our town for commerce and tourism be held up because we’ve gone “green?”
The City of Frederick has managed to bring in homes, businesses and culture through the re-birth of the flood ravaged and abandoned parts of the city. The city has benefitted with the building of high-priced condos, new office space, and restaurants along the creek with the resulting influx of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs. The linear park – which is an architectural masterpiece – brought these tenants in, but algae of all things may just keep others out.
The people who have moved their homes and businesses to the linear creek area of downtown are those who love the city life but chose Frederick because of its small town charm. There is nothing aesthetically charming about string algae hanging from the beautiful waterfalls and fountains. Nor is it pleasing to one’s olfactory senses as they stroll along the promenade while the stench of decaying algae wafts through the summer air.
These are serious issues that need to be addressed as Frederick continues to grow as a tourist destination.
The combination of a relatively dry spring and summer tied to extremely high and even record temperatures has left our creek greener this summer than in years past.
This problem exists for several reasons. The Carroll Creek Linear Park is – first and foremost – a flood control project which hinders the natural rate of water flow. In essence it is stagnant water. The creek is also fully exposed to the sun which provides the plant life with much needed sunlight to use photosynthesis to prosper. The other half of plant growth is nutrients. Carroll Creek is the recipient of large amounts of nitrogen from its watershed, which in turn feeds the problem plants.
Hood College, which submitted a study earlier this year to the city, has hopes of providing alternatives to past failed remedies and present ways of battling the algae issue in the future. These should be reviewed with all seriousness and trials should be implemented as soon as possible.
While attending last week’s First Saturday – Frederick’s monthly showcase of restaurants, music and arts – with my two sons, we were slowly joined by hundreds of other onlookers along the creek. We awaited the start of the city’s annual water parade of civic organizations and businesses called The Great Frederick Float.
In past years The Great Frederick Float had attracted thousands of spectators who have – in turn – donated thousands of dollars to either The Downtown Frederick Partnership or a particular non-profit organization that had a boat in the flotilla. This year, thanks in great part to near record temperatures, few showed.
Even with the sparse crowd I heard dozens of comments – even from my sons – that the creek “stunk.” As my sons and I walked along the creek, we observed that the only areas not covered by algae were cleared by the resident fish for use as spawning grounds.
As a self-proclaimed ambassador for the City of Frederick, I was embarrassed at the condition of the creek. Of the many boats that joined the parade, several were paddleboats. The paddleboats had the most difficult time making it up the creek. The algae clusters were so thick that it tied up the drive paddles of the Boys and Girls club boat as well as the WFMD boat. Bob Miller, who piloted the WFMD boat, struggled to a point of exhaustion.
If we are to still promote the beauty of Frederick – and it is beautiful – we can’t afford to have residents and visitors alike be distracted by the ever growing issue of algae when they should be focused on celebrating the history, enjoying the restaurants, shopping in one of the unique shops that are sprinkled throughout downtown, or marveling at the brilliant works of art such as William Cochran’s Community Bridge Mural; The Iron Bridge; The Spire; Angels in the Architecture or Yemi’s Pillars of Frederick mural.
It may seem insignificant; but, if Frederick loses the battle against the greening of Carroll Creek, it might lose its pristine reputation as a premiere destination for business, home and pleasure.