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By Jeff Barnes
Special to The Sentinel
COLLEGE PARK – Kennis Termini fondly remembers taking her three daughters to Duvall Field in College Park for the annual Spring Egg Hunt and Halloween Thing each year.
“It was a great way to meet your neighbors that you might not meet otherwise,” said Termini, who has lived in the city for 45 years. “It was just a fantastic way of getting to know your neighbors and the neighborhood. We need more of those kinds of opportunities to bring about people getting out of their little comfort zones.”
Now that her children are all grown up and she has nine grandchildren, Termini, 72, said the field is not as active as it used to be. She hopes long-awaited renovations at the field will change that.
“It was more pro-family,” she said of the field’s history, which has been around since the 1960s. “You could go by there almost at any time and see families and sports – all kinds of stuff over the past years. It’s kind of nice to think it’s going to be revitalized and updated.”
City officials first started looking at plans for renovating the park – the largest city-owned recreation facility – about 20 years ago, said Terry Schum, the city’s planning director. But due to the high costs, the city had to step back and tackle the project in different phases.
As part of the first phase of renovation last year, the city spent $1.2 million to construct a new restroom and concession building, as well as a new recreational plaza at the park, located on Rhode Island Avenue.
After receiving a $150,000 bond bill from the state in April, the city began to look at preparing for the second phase of renovation, Schum said. The city is matching the $150,000, she added.
A few months ago, the city hired a consultant, GreenPlay, LLC, and held visioning exercises last month with city stakeholders to gather input for the new project.
Among things community members wanted to see implemented in the next phase of renovations include a walking trail around the park, reconfigured athletic fields and more opportunities to attract non-sports community activities.
Fazlul Kabir, a District 1 city council member, said there is a strong desire among the community for a fitness trail around the park, as well as the reconfiguration of fields to be geared towards sports, like soccer.
Kabir said he is looking forward to the continued renovation of the field, noting that many of the city’s families live near the field.
“This is much needed, especially in my district,” Kabir said.
Schum said the consultants are working on a conceptual plan to present to the public, which she expects will be completed within the next few months.
At that point, she said, the city would have to secure funding for the project – which may cost several million dollars, depending on the design – and the design phase could take about a year to finalize.
Overall, she said, the project is about two years out.
Although the city has had difficulty securing funding for Duvall Field renovations in the past, Schum said she is hopeful that renovations to the park, which she said is “critically important to the community,” will finally see the light of day.
“Based on past experience, I think it’s really been acknowledged by the city manager and city council that they don’t want the same thing to happen to the new plan,” she said.
One method the city may use to pay for this project, Schum said, is the use of bond financing. The city is currently exploring the use of bond financing for other city projects, including a new City Hall, and that the use of bond financing would be “very helpful” to cover the cost of this project.
Dave Olfky lives in College Park and grew up playing baseball and football at Duvall Field. Now a coach for the College Park Boys and Girls Club, Olfky, 56, said the community is used to seeing the field being used heavily on the weekends, something that doesn’t happen anymore.
He said he’d like to see that change with the new renovations, whatever they may be.
“No matter what we do with the field, I feel one of the most important things is that we bring back a sense of pride and a sportsmanship spirit to College Park for anybody that wishes to stop, even if their kids aren’t involved,” Olfky said. “They kind of go, ‘oh look, wow, things are going on at the field.’ My hope is that we can do that.”