Annapolis’ Waterworks Park re-opened on Thursday to an eager crowd of anglers.
Among the crowd of fishermen were David Hightower and his five sons. On a sunny afternoon, Hightower and sons were dividing up worms between them, maximizing their bait.
“They were really excited about this day," Hightower said. "They had it circled on the calendar. We really missed coming out here."
It seemed as though the fish were excited about the park’s re-opening, too. The Hightowers didn’t have to wait long before small sunfish were tugging at their lines. In a few instances, it took only a few seconds after casting their lines before they got a bite on their hook.
Hightower scrambled to help his sons pull in their catches. And with the fish at Waterworks Park being so hungry for bait, his work was cut out for him.
Located on the site of a former water plant, Waterworks Park features two lakes and two walking trails with a few picnic tables for a perfect sunny outing.
The city re-opened the park on a trial basis, hoping to keep it self-sustainable. Officials ordered the park closed in March 2010 after more than 10 years of operation due to budget constraints. It was costing the city about $28,000 annually to keep open, while it only brought in about $6,700.
After some rethinking, the city’s Parks and Recreations Department has made a few changes aimed at keeping it sustainable, including shortened hours and volunteer rangers.
At a meeting last month, Parks Director LeAnne Plumer informed potential rangers about the reopening of the park, and asked for their help in making the venture successful.
During the following weeks, the city secured 19 volunteer rangers to patrol the park on a part-time basis, with a full-time ranger assigned to oversee the full operation of the park.
“We were very pleased with the turnout for volunteer rangers,” Plumer said on Thursday.
Visitors must have a permit before entering. Access to the park is restricted to permit holders. It’s both a way to raise money for the park’s operations and a way to keep the small parking lot in check.
One of the volunteers, Ranger Mariva Danek, was greeting visitors at the gate to the park.
“I am really not a sportsman, but I thought it would be great to come out here and enjoy nature, get a sense of contributing, and meet people,” Danek said. “I think it’s beautiful here, and really a wonderful resource. I think it’s great that they’re using volunteers.”
The park is open to permit holders Monday-Friday from 4 p.m. until dusk, and weekends from 7 a.m. until dusk.
For more information about access to the park, contact the city’s Parks and Recreations Department at 410-263-7958.