Paddleboards to bolster Salisbury Marina experience

Mayor Jake Day and Police Chief Barbara Duncan didn’t hesitate to hop down onto a floating dock and try paddleboarding on the Wicomico River.

Neither did City Administrator Julia Glanz, who stepped onto the pedal-operated board and, wearing a baseball cap to shield her eyes from the sun’s reflection on the water, easily made her way along the current, as those on the walkway at the Salisbury Marina, attending a press conference, cheered them on and snapped pictures.

Earlier, Brian Meyer and Kevin Haigis of Capital SUP announced water sports will soon be offered to the public, at the marina.

Beginning around Memorial Day, paddleboards will be rented – both with pedals and oars – along with kayaks and canoes at a cost of $20 per hour. Lessons will be offered. The unadventurous need not fear, Meyer said, because fewer than 5 percent of those who try paddleboarding have difficulty.

Meyer and Haigis also have plans to make available yoga and a boot camp program, have paddleboards lit with LED lights and accompanying music on the river and get involved in city-hosted competitive races as early as next year.

A few months ago, Meyer said, he met with Mayor Jake Day about bringing water sports to town and Day enthusiastically agreed. At the press conference, the mayor celebrated the idea and the “tremendous potential” for enjoyment and exercise.

Capital SUP’s local endeavor is in conjunction with the upcoming Marina Landing project, a development of apartments and retail with a city-owned boathouse. Groundbreaking is expected at mid-year.

“Today, we’re announcing our first tenant on our property will be Brian Meyer,” Day said, explaining a temporary structure will house watercraft until the boathouse is built. Also in place will be a floating dock with access for the handicapped. Kayaks will be launched at the far end of the marina and connect with Riverwalk and dock.

Day said paddleboarding is “not only about economic development and vibrancy, but also about water quality and water health.”

“We have an impact on the water and we’ve got to treat it more respect,” he said.

Meyer, a native of Salisbury who headed to Hawaii after graduating from Parkside High School, became ingrained in the culture of paddleboarding there, returned to the east coast and opened his business in Annapolis. There are plans for another one to open in Washington, D.C., then Baltimore.

“We wanted to bring this energy to the Salisbury community,” he said.

Keith Fisher of Fisher Architecture, who is designing Marina Landing, called the watersport venture “a unique opportunity” and said the river is an “under-utilized opportunity and resource for what it is we’re going to be able to do.”

Last July, he told the Salisbury Independent Marina Landing will be in conformance with Salisbury’s master plan, made of brick and with a modern flavor and nautical flair.

“It will be an updated image from the architecture of the area. It won’t look like the Port Exchange Building or Chesapeake East,” he said, but have softer lines, a lot of glass low and balconies on some apartments.

While many buildings downtown are made of red brick, Fisher said, “if you look more toward the waterfront there is more of an eclectic mix.”

“Rivers Edge has blues, greens – lighter and with more of a nautical feel.

“Our intention is that the material choice is going to be more earth tones with some exterior wood on the building that you would see on a boat,” he said.

The boat house will have the same design, with an open feel, glass and a tall interior.

The estimated project cost is $20 million. The city will use $90,000 of its Program Open Space money to help pay to construct the boathouse. Salisbury will continue to own the land where the boathouse and marina will be, and fund capital expenses, but Salisbury Development Group will operate them.

“It’s going to change the whole landscape of the river,” developer David Perlmutter, with Salisbury Development Group LLC, told the Salisbury Independent last year.

The mixed-use project will have retail on the ground floor of a building with a 15,000-square-foot footprint. The five or six-story structure will feature one, two and three-bedroom apartments in towers.

“It will be right there at the marina. The apartments will have access to the docks. People can rent the docks there. We will also be building a boathouse with some retail there, too, like a crew boathouse,” Perlmutter said.

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