BOWIE – Bowie residents will see the city’s two major parks receive some much-needed renovations. Allen Pond Park and Whitemarsh Park are two of the city’s most visited attractions that draw many residents throughout the year. With the assistance of Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects, the city of Bowie undertook a comprehensive review of the park. Allen […]
BOWIE – Bowie residents will see the city’s two major parks receive some much-needed renovations.
Allen Pond Park and Whitemarsh Park are two of the city’s most visited attractions that draw many residents throughout the year. With the assistance of Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects, the city of Bowie undertook a comprehensive review of the park.
Allen Pond Park is the city’s premier 85-acre multi-use park which is home to the Bowie Ice Arena, Robert V. Setera Amphitheater, Bowie Skate Park, and a 10-acre stocked pond. As part of that process, the consultants evaluated the current state of the park and assessed future needs of the city, as well as those who visit the park and use its facilities.
“We (city staff) had previously prepared the master plan. It was a conceptual plan about how to improve and enhance the park to better serve today’s needs, but what it didn’t do was identify the levels of design for the park’s individual components, such as the restrooms, amphitheater parking lots and a pedestrian plaza,” said Matt Reno, city of Bowie project manager. “What we are doing now is dissecting the master plan and starting to focus on completing certain phases.”
The Bowie city council reviewed the draft master plan during their January 25, 2011 work session and the final plan was completed in May 2011. The city is about to embark on designing several improvements at Allen Pond Park, which is also home to major festivals and events for the community.
“We are going to move the amphitheater to the right so the sun is no longer in the actor or singer’s eyes. It’s at a bad angle. We also want to create some seating so you can sit down and see the show rather than just a free for all on the hill and some improvements that will last,” said Lawrence Pierce, director of the city of Bowie community services department. “We need bathrooms that are sized for the park and all of the activities that go on there. We just want to make it more attractive to others.”
Reno said the original plan was scheduled for 5 to 10 years.
“Since the master plan was prepared, we looked at how we begin to implement this massive project because at the time we put a budget together without really knowing specific design elements of each component,” Reno said. “Overall the master plan looked like a $12 to $14 million investment and that would have been phased in over 5 to 10 years. Funding comes down to what the council is willing to allocate from year to year, so the staff’s responsibility is to figure out how we phase in some elements of the master plan.”
The city staff eventually plans to include a pedestrian plaza, an area that is for multi-use or designed as a gathering place for visitors, and expand the parking lot to improve traffic flow.
“It would probably be a landscape of some sort with no vehicular traffic through it. It would be a safe place for people to walk and get a good view of the lake and stage,” Reno said. “Allen Pond Park is an old park that’s been around since the 60’s and 70’s and we want to make it modern. It’s undisputable that Bowie has some of the best-maintained athletic fields and landscapes in the region. Now we feel it’s a good time to freshen that look.”
The city staff plans to get an architect on board as soon as possible and begin building in 2018. The new parking lot would be finished in 2019 to not interrupt construction of other areas of the park.
“We are about to be awarded a contract to an architectural engineering firm in late November after the election,” Pierce said. “The cost will probably be over $7 million, but once we get the engineering firm in here it will most likely be less. Right now, in the budget book, it is set up as general funds.”
On Oct. 5, Reno presented the Bowie city council with the master plan, which includes the renovations for Allen Pond Park and Whitemarsh Park. He asked for their feedback and questions. They will be taken into consideration as to how the city staff will go about the renovation process.
“As always I find these things frightfully expensive, but I do think there’s some tremendous opportunity here. We should take into consideration the useful life issue and maintenance issue associated with some of these options,” city councilmember Dufour Woolfley said. “If they look like they will dilapidate after five years, then I’d hate to be in a recycle pattern of it needing to be replaced again.”
The city council also asked questions pertaining to the amenities that would take away parts of the park the community appreciates the most.
“The tier seating would restrict the use of that property in front of the amphitheater. It wouldn’t be a place where the kids can roll down the hill and the dog chases them,” city councilmember Diane Polangin said.
City councilmember Dennis Brady suggested that the city staff have the front half level of the hill remain the same and then tear down the part of the hill that’s furthest away.
Other city council members thought the designs were exceptional and the city staff is “definitely on the right track.”
The city council as a whole agreed the city staff should get feedback from local residents such as seniors, the local arts committee, environmental committee and other local organizations about the renovation process.
“It is certainly safe to say the more money that is spent will get you a better product and more attractive space. We are trying to find out if council is okay with the Cadillac version or the middle of the road Ford Fusion version of the park,” Pierce said. “It seemed at the end of the presentation most of them felt supportive of the concepts.”