It’s the end of an old packing plant’s days of disuse and the beginning of a beautiful new park for the people of Cambridge, Maryland.
On Tuesday, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) joined the City of Cambridge, Dorchester County, Cross Street Partners and landscape architecture firm Parker Rodriguez, to announce the kick-off of the future Cannery Park.
The park will be built next to the last remaining building of the Phillips Packing Company. “Packing Plant F,” as it was known, is one of the few structures that remain from Phillips’ boom times as the largest produce cannery in the United States. Their sweet potatoes, lima beans, white potatoes, and tomatoes were packed and shipped all over the United States, earning Cambridge the nickname “Tomato Capital of the World.”
The revitalization is the product of over seven years of planning and fundraising. Construction begins this summer and will include the restoration of Cambridge Creek, which runs through the parcel, as well as the removal of an inactive rail line to be replaced with a rails-to-trails. Cambridge citizens can suggest other improvements for the park’s design concept at two community meetings, happening this week.
“The concept design is just one piece driving the renewal of this forgotten site,” says Katie Parks White, ESLC’s Director of Conservation. “From the joint funding of the acquisition with the City of Cambridge, Dorchester County, the State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, this success is a testament to the value created in partnerships.”
The 6.6 acre Cannery Park is one, but not the only, element of the former Phillips packing house revitalization. The packing house building will also be restored as a 60,000 square foot multi-use space with a kitchen incubator, fresh foods market, a brewery, tap room and more.
“If we all do a little bit, we get a lot done. I thank all the partners for their leadership and for seeing the forward movement of Cambridge and wanting to be a part of that,” said Cambridge mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley. “There’s lots to come in the city of Cambridge and this is one of the major steps in getting it done.”
The first public meeting for Dorchester County residents to make suggestions will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 23 at the Cambridge Empowerment Center, at 615 B Pine Street. The second will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 25th at the Cambridge Public Safety Building, at 8 Washington Street.