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Open Letter

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Open Letter About Water Activities on The Mariners’ Lake

Dear Friends,

As The Mariners’ Museum and Park launches its #GivingTuesday effort to raise some support for maintenance of the Noland Trail and Mariners’ Park, we have received several questions about boating and fishing on The Mariners’ Lake. I am writing today to share a brief summary of the past, present, and future of water activities on The Mariners’ Lake.

The Past

Several years ago, as many in our community know, The Mariners’ Museum and Park rented out fishing boats, paddle boats, and canoes on The Mariners’ Lake. Beginning nearly 10 years ago, declining revenue, increasing costs, and increasing liability concerns prompted the leadership of the Museum to eliminate those water activities one-by-one. Additionally, over the life of The Mariners’ Lake, a combination of foot traffic and stormwater runoff from across Newport News have caused substantial shoreline erosion, resulting in several areas of The Mariners’ Lake that have become far shallower owing to sediment accumulation. The leadership of the Museum prohibited shoreline fishing in response.


Today, recreational activity on The Mariners’ Lake does not exist, which is a shame. Occasionally, you will see volunteers on The Mariners’ Lake in kayaks removing trash and debris that storm water runoff has introduced into the lake, but otherwise, our community simply does not have access to The Mariners’ Lake.

If you have walked the Noland Trail at all this summer and fall, you surely noticed the symptoms of sediment accumulation in The Mariners’ Lake. We dropped the level of the lake this summer to support the construction of the bridge on Warwick Drive, exposing the lake floor in many areas. You will have also seen over the last several years a larger problem with algae blooms turning The Mariners’ Lake green. We think a shallower, warmer lake and nutrients from the stormwater runoff contribute to this algae bloom.

The Future

The good news is that we are actively building the most robust forward-looking comprehensive plan since the founding of the Museum to support the community’s use of the Noland Trail, Mariners’ Park, and The Mariners’ Lake. Our start-to-finish repair and resurfacing on the Noland Trail, completed this year, is the first major step towards implementing that plan. Stay tuned, because in early December we will make an announcement to call on you to join us at the Museum early in the new year to share your thoughts and stories about how you and your families use(d) or would like to use this tremendous community resource.

While the use of The Mariners’ Lake will come after other initiatives (partly because we have to wait for construction on the Warwick bridge to be completed at the end of the summer of 2018 and partly because we have the most work to do there), we want to engage you about how YOU would like to use the lake.

Thank You

I have been at The Mariners’ Museum and Park for just over a year now, and during that time, I have heard from our community more stories about time spent on the Noland Trail, in our Park, or on The Mariners’ Lake than anything else. The stories have absolutely moved me, and my appreciation grows deeper every day of how much the Mariners’ campus means to so many people and their families in our wonderful community. Please know that as I, and we, take our time to deliberately roll out more activities for all of us to enjoy, it is not because I lack a sense of urgency, but because I want to be sure that we can sustain what we do. Many in our community do not know that The Mariners’ Museum and Park is a nonprofit organization, and that we do not receive regular funding from the city, state, nor federal governments to maintain and operate the Trail, Park, and Lake. It really is our honor to do that entirely through private and grant funding.

Thanks in advance for your continued support of The Mariners’ Museum and Park!

See you on the Noland Trail!

Howard H. Hoege III
President & CEO