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Marine museum plans to extend footprint

Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons MD
Solomons, MD - With its 50th anniversary looming, the continuous growth of one of Calvert’s most popular tourist attractions is about to accelerate. During a Tuesday, Sept. 26 presentation to the Calvert County Commissioners, Calvert Marine Museum (CMM) Director Sherrod Sturrock reported that two adjacent parcels—one of them on the water—have been purchased by the facility’s fundraising arm.

Sturrock, who presented the CMM update along with Deputy Director Jeff Murray and paleontologist Dr. Stephen Godfrey, reported that the museum’s second master plan will be completed by 2020, when the 50xth anniversary will be observed. “In order to keep the museum vibrant and moving forward, it is essential that we plan for the future,” Sturrock stated.

Museum officials will be requesting $710,000 in county capital improvement plan (CIP) funds in fiscal year 2019 to finish the renovation of its 28-year-old education building. The final piece includes improvements to the building’s second floor, creating additional classroom space and equipping the classrooms with state-of-the-art technology. The remaining $300,000 needed for that project will be funded by private contributions.

Sturrock reported that CMM’s “current site is pretty well maxed out.” Noting that the marine museum barely has enough water access for its hands-on education programs, CMM officials jumped at the chance of acquire a nearby parcel known as the Clark Property this past June. Board of Directors Member Marianne Harms then purchased a nearby tract and sold it back to CMM. The total debt obligation for the land purchase is $979,500. Sturrock told the commissioners that CMM will conduct an aggressive fundraising plan to pay down the debt obligation and will also draft a site master plan for the additional property.

“We would love to host a skipjack race,” said Sturrock, who explained that an event of that scale would not be possible unless CMM has more waterfront access.
Museum officials also unveiled plans to create a paleontology collections and research center that they believe would give CMM the potential to become the official paleontology center for the entire state of Maryland. Godfrey noted that the museum’s current collection includes over 100,000 fossils. The museum’s current space for paleontology collections is reaching the max-out point and constructing the center “will extend our influence in the state of Maryland.”

Sturrock declared CMM has “a very good case” to request state recognition as Maryland’s paleontology center. The project would cost an estimated $5 million. The center would include space for collections, fossil preparation, large fossil storage, offices a paleo library and conference space.

Commissioner Pat Nutter [R – District 2] called CMM “one of the jewels of the county. It actually brings funding to the county in tourism.”

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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