The biggest public water access news in the last 10 years, maybe the last 38 years — that’s how the county’s Public Water Access Committee views the expansion of Beverly Triton Nature Park in Edgewater.
Severna Park and Arnold residents without community water access have been able to travel to Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis or Beachwood Park in Pasadena. Now, they have another option with Beverly Triton, located at 1202 Triton Beach Road.
The county held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in May to recognize new improvements to the Mayo peninsula site: parking, a gatehouse, a pavilion, a playground, a fishing pier, restrooms and more.
Beverly Triton Nature Park includes 344 acres with a mile of beach abutting the Chesapeake Bay. Although the county purchased the land in 1985 for preservation and the intent to share it with the public, that was the case for only a small group of people. Roughly seven acres of that land was leased to the Beverly Beach Community Association, benefiting those who lived within walking distance.
The park opened to the rest of the public in 2013, 28 years later, but it lacked the features that make other local parks attractive. After the county scrapped plans in 2019 to add pavilions and a children’s play area, among other amenities, those upgrades are now complete.
Public Water Access Committee chair Lisa Arrasmith has spent 10 years spearheading the effort to open the park to all guests. She was on a quest to find places to put her kayak in the water when she found a locked gate and a sign saying “no trespassing” and “keep out.” In the distance, she glimpsed the blue bay.
“Since I couldn't get into the park by land, I decided to get in by water,” Arrasmith said. “Keeping kayakers out of a waterfront park is like keeping squirrels out of your birdfeeder.”
The following Saturday, eight kayakers launched from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on Rhode River and paddled four miles to Beverly Triton.
“We found a mile of sandy beach, old roses in bloom by a tidal pond and a dozen walk-in locals running their dogs on the beach and loudly telling a new resident how great it was they got to use the park,” Arrasmith said. “I figured it would be easy enough to get the county to open the park gate and let everyone in.”
Determined that everyone should be able to enjoy the park, Arrasmith attended a community engagement event held by then County Executive Laura Neuman.
“I’ll never forget the first time I was there, we walked a plank to the water, to a beach to see the Chesapeake Bay,” Neuman said. “It’s stunning. Living in Anne Arundel County for 20 years, I didn’t know it was there.
“We talked about taxes on stormwater. If we want people to understand the importance of that, we have to give them access to water.”
At that meeting, Arrasmith presented Neuman and Rick Anthony, the county’s recreation and parks director at the time, with photos and a four-point plan on how to open a rustic public park.
“That started 30 days of Rick Anthony visiting every county waterfront park, open to the public and not open to the public, and identifying what Rick called ‘low-hanging fruit’ — parks that could open with minor cost and significant benefit,” Arrasmith said. “By October 2013, the main gate to Beverly Triton was open.”
During the ceremony this May, the county recognized Anthony by naming a pavilion in his honor.
“As I was working through the process, I wasn’t thinking about legacy, but it was the whole team and my family, who stuck with me through late-night meetings and everything else,” said Anthony, noting he was overwhelmed by the honor.
He lived near the park and faced strong opposition from the community, which wanted to restrict access.
“I think there were some valid concerns regarding traffic … but they also wanted it to remain private and preserved and not let outsiders have access,” Anthony said.
Letters arrived on Anthony’s doorstep, urging him to leave the park alone. Through several county administrations — from the one led by Neuman to those of Steve Schuh and Steuart Pittman — Anthony remained steadfast.
“I had to fight my own personal preference too of having a private community beach, and ultimately, it was about doing the right thing,” Anthony said. “A pretty significant population of our county did not have water access and these properties were bought with the intention that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy these parks.”
While the park is now a resource to be enjoyed by hikers, walkers, kayakers, anglers and all other Anne Arundel County residents, one hurdle remains. Water quality testing is needed for safe swimming.
The county has yet to provide an update on that issue. For now, advocates are savoring the park’s progress.
“Local government is about doing what’s best for the community,” Neuman said. “Thank you to the water access people. They have been diligent and persistent.”