Located on the Magothy River to the east of Lake Waterford, the newly opened Beachwood Park is known by locals as a great spot for fishing, but few people are aware of its existence.
In 2002, the property was purchased by Anne Arundel County, which lacked the funds necessary to improve the conditions. “It wasn’t necessarily on the front burner to expand public access, but the Magothy River Association [and] the county began to clean up the park a few years ago,” said Paul Spadaro, president of the Magothy River Association (MRA). “It had a very creepy feeling. There was trash and litter, but with the volunteers at the MRA, … the park now has a warm and friendly feeling.”
To make the park more accessible, the Department of Recreation and Parks reopened an old path that leads from Beachwood Park Road to the Magothy River’s edge. Fallen trees blocked access to the road, but now the spot “will greatly improve kayak access to the Magothy,” according to Spadaro.
MRA volunteers were joined by members of Chesapeake Kayak Adventures and Washington Kayak Club during a cleanup on October 31. After removing trash from the site, the kayakers set out on the Magothy. But aside from this and other service projects, the property has gone largely untouched. Residents were allowed to use the park, but because it was basically nothing but woods, it was seldom used. Spadaro noted that as the appearance of the area improves, public interest increases. “A lot of pressure has been put on by the kayakers and the sailboaters in response to trying to get a safe launching area on the Magothy,” he stated.
The county plans to add more parking spaces to the site, and there is still a need for a sign to welcome visitors to the park. But so far, Spadaro has seen a big change. “[Beachwood Park] has been transformed from nothing into something over the last couple of weeks.”
Beachwood Park is also a historical site. From 1948 to the early 1960s, the park was owned and operated as an African-American beach resort and amusement facility. It later became the first integrated park, welcoming all who wished to come. As the only family-friendly beach in the mid-Atlantic region open to African-Americans, the location thrived and even hosted musical legends such as James Brown and Tina Turner.
Even though Spadaro expressed that the MRA has no interest in making the park an amusement facility again, members do plan to preserve the area’s history through their living history project. “We encourage some of the original park-goers to contact us and we love to listen to your stories,” he said. “We have raised some money, and we are working with the county to put up signage celebrating the park’s rich history.”
Next year, the Magothy River Association will celebrate its 70th anniversary and is working on a water trail to commemorate the milestone. To join the Friends of Beachwood Park subcommittee or help the Magothy River Association in any way, email Kelly Kalinowski at email@example.com.
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