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Letter: Symphony Woods was always meant to be a well-used, central park

In 1963, I headed the Rouse Company Planning Team that envisioned a large, central park adjacent to the Town Center commercial district and the eventual Columbia Plan designated the entire 50-plus acres as permanent open space.

At the urging of the Washington National Symphony, we agreed to build an outdoor amphitheater in the center of Symphony Woods on approximately 10 acres to be carved out for the pavilion but be preserved as part of the larger park, all of which was to be eventually transferred to the Columbia Association.

Modeled after Central Park in New York City, we envisioned a site, which would be preserved in perpetuity but allow entertainment facilities, as well as limited food outlets.

Opening on the rainy night of July 14, 1967, the pavilion was inaugurated by the orchestra and Van Cliburn at the keyboard. The park and pavilion were always planned for the use of Columbia residents and a larger audience from Howard County.

All of us, especially our leader Jim Rouse, were thrilled by the exciting performance and the dedication of the pavilion for generations to come. The concept of the "Pavilion in the Park" has always been a given; we assumed that the Columbia Association would be the logical preserver of that important community-serving idea.

I envy the leaders and planners, who now must find a way to enhance the pavilion and the park. Being on that team, from 1963-70, has been the highlight of my 50-year career in community planning and development.

I congratulate the community leaders for planning a great park in Symphony Woods.

William Finley

Ocean Ridge, Fla.

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