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Rockfield rocks

Simply put, Bel Air's

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rocks. This scenic, spacious section of Harford County has the goods to attract just about everybody: foliage-loving folks, outdoors enthusiasts, potential picnickers or people who just enjoy spending a pleasant day in the sun.

After visiting a similar park in Boston, Mass., Nancy Castaldo, chairperson of the Rockfield Creative Playground Committee, came up with the idea for the park in 1994. Bel Air officials agreed that the idea to build an expandable recreation area for the community was a good one. In 1996, after enough money had been raised through fund-raisers, donations and corporate grants, Castaldo and her team of volunteers got to work on a half-acre portion of Bel Air soil.

"It's all from the volunteer philosophy," Castaldo says of Rockfield's genesis. But she could also be describing its creation. For five-and-a-half days during a steamy June heat wave, Bel Air literally came together -- residents and area businesses contributed time and supplies. Even organizations that would seem to offer few building resources found a way to help; a local private school, for example, turned its facility into a daycare center for the volunteer workers' children.

"Fortunately, we had really good weather," Castaldo recalls, pondering how chaotic a mid-construction downpour could have been.

And good weather is certainly the best time to visit Rockfield. There's a half-mile nature trail, a playground, baseball fields, an interesting display of horticultural gardens designed by a local landscape architect and a soccer field that was added in 2001. Visitors can also look forward to expansions to these attractions. "Rockfield's a work in progress," she says. "We've been working on it for five-and-a-half years now, and we've probably still got another couple years' worth of work [to go]."

The park is closed for a week in the spring for maintenance and repairs, but during the summer it bustles with activity, as families and children turn to nature walks and fun in the sun for entertainment. "It was worth doing it, because we did it for the kids," Castaldo says.

The biggest reward Castaldo takes from Rockfield is watching children play. Not long ago, she heard one young visitor exclaim, "'Wow, I wish we could live here!'" Now, that's an endorsement.

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