As a Maryland State Senator representing Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties, I am excited about the growth and development at the Salisbury-Wicomico Regional Airport, and have made working and supporting these airport improvement projects among my top priorities.
The growth at the airport has been a team effort over the years with the planning and strong support of local, county, state and federal officials, as well as our private-sector partners, especially Piedmont Airlines.
As Maryland’s second-largest airport, the SBY Airport is an economic and jobs driver for the Lower Shore.
One of the key projects that is needed to help ensure success of the SBY Airport’s expansion is the extension of water service to the airport. Given the importance of this project and strong advocacy by Wicomico County and all partners, the state of Maryland awarded $4.4 million for the airport water extension project at the end of October.
For the project to move forward, it required an agreement between Wicomico County and the city of Salisbury for a dedicated water line for the airport only.
After hearing the questions and concerns that were being raised by the Parsonsburg Fire Company, the Kilbirnie Homeowners Association and other neighborhood residents, I personally reviewed the water system agreements -- Resolution No 20-2020 and Resolution 21-2020 as I, too, was concerned about the comments that were being made about annexation and other interpretations of the agreements.
After reviewing both resolutions, it is clear that neither agreement creates an annexation. Section 2 (a) of the Airport Water Agreement clearly states that “the area to be served WILL BE LIMITED AT ALL TIMES to the county-owned land known as the airport. … The new water main is denoted as a denied access line by the state of Maryland. Neither the county nor the city has the authority to expand the area to be served.”
To further respond to the concerns and questions of the local community, the Wicomico County Airport Commission, under the capable leadership of Calvin Peacock is holding a public forum on PAC 14 on Thursday. This is a perfect opportunity to address any remaining questions so this project can move forward.
After this public hearing, I urge the members of the Wicomico County Council to approve the Salisbury Airport Water Extension project agreements at their next meeting.
We as a community cannot risk jeopardizing the $4 million in state funding for this airport water extension project as well as risking state investments in future SBY Regional Airport and Wicomico County priority projects.
I also believe moving forward on the airport water extension project now takes on a new sense of urgency, given the dramatic decrease in state revenues due to the Covid-19 crisis.
I understand the initial questions and concerns that the local community had about the airport water extension project agreements. Now that these concerns have been addressed and once the public forum on these agreements has been held, it is time to move now on this priority project.
State Sen. Mary Beth Carozza represents District 38.