North Beach Girl Advocates to Save “SOMA” Beaches at State House Hearing
Grace Wilcox is only seven years old but the North Beach girl is already learning the ways of politics in an effort to raise awareness of the potential dangers of flooding on southern Maryland’s shores and the need for state funds to protect her home town beaches and shorelines.
Last Saturday, March 14, 2015, the North Beach native joined North Beach Mayor Mark Frazer, Town Councilman Ken Wilcox, her dad and other North Beach officials at a meeting of the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to advocate for a bond bill sponsored by Senate President Mike Miller.
Growing up all her life in “SOMA” as she calls it, Southern Maryland’s shores and beaches are all Grace has known. She came to Annapolis to protect them. Holding her prepared remarks, she waited with the Mayor to speak before the Committee.
“She went there as an advocate,” said Ken Wilcox. “To say that I’m proud of my little girl is an understatement.”
After the presentation by Senate President Mike Miller for a bond bill on behalf of the Benedict Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, it was time to approach the speaker’s table for North Beach’s presentation. The bond bill sponsored by Senate President Miller requests $150,000 for replacement of storm water valves for the outfall storm water pipes located in the town. Water levels of the Bay are on the rise and North Beach plans to address the increased instances of flooding.
Aging metal pipes and valves are the only barriers from preventing Bay water from coming back up storm water pipes during storms. In North Beach, the aging valves are approaching 25 to 30 years old and are failing. Several times in the past year, the valve has failed and Bay water has gone up the pipe and flooded the area near 9th and 7th Street and near Annapolis and Atlantic Avenues.
Grace sat on her father’s lap while Senate President Miller, North Beach Mayor Frazer, and Councilmember Gwen Schiada gave the presentation. She had her remarks prepared in her favorite purple folder and was ready to speak on behalf of the project. She had practiced with her mom the night before. However, Committee Chairman Senate Edward Kasemeyer stated that time was up. She did not address before the Committee.
“If I had a chance to speak I would have told them ‘storm drains save Maryland beaches’ and I would have asked them to help save my home town North Beach.”
North Beach Mayor Frazer promises that she will speak next time. She said she would come back. “I love living in North Beach,” said Grace. “And I will be back if ‘SOMA’ ever needs protecting.” The Town’s preliminary estimate on the cost of the project is $250,000.