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Plans for Wakefield Valley Park in Westminster taking shape, an ‘opportunity to get it right’

Walking paths crisscross the landscape at Wakefield Valley Park, a former golf course, in Westminster Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021.
Walking paths crisscross the landscape at Wakefield Valley Park, a former golf course, in Westminster Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. (Dylan Slagle)

An architect told interested members of the public that dog parks, disc golf, playgrounds and wide-open space could be part of Wakefield Valley Park’s future after hearing recommendations from citizens.

The city of Westminster’s Recreation and Parks Department and an architect firm continued to hear the public’s ideas for upgrades to Wakefield Valley Park and informed them of its own ideas as well.

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The second of three meetings the city is hosting for park plans, was held in person at the Carroll Arts Center on Wednesday while also being streamed online. About 44 people sat in the auditorium, spaced out from one another, to hear Peter Stone, a senior landscape architect with the firm Pennoni Associates, Inc. speak about the feedback they received from the last meeting and how they implemented them in their plans.

Buildings and ponds dot the landscape at Wakefield Valley Park, a former golf course, in Westminster Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021.
Buildings and ponds dot the landscape at Wakefield Valley Park, a former golf course, in Westminster Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

“It is impossible to include every suggestion into the master plan,” Abby Gruber, director of the city’s Recreation and Parks Department, said at the beginning of the presentation.

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Wakefield Valley Park, 187 acres, was a former golf course acquired by Westminster in February 2016. The park has been part of the city’s adopted strategic plan that identifies priority projects to work on through 2018 to 2021. The master plan of the park will provide a foundation for future city grant applications to finance park improvements.

The Westminster Mayor and Common Council authorized a contract with Pennoni Associates, Inc. to help with the master plan’s development and grant money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund will fund the plan.

Stone pointed out the park is still being used for linear activities like walking, hiking and biking. And part of the goal is to develop more activities that can take place in the park. Another goal is to improve its access by adding more parking lots and points of entry. An additional goal is restoration when it comes to trees and streams.

Attendees of the Wakefield Valley Park input meeting stick their sticky notes with suggestions on park enhancements to posters inside the Art Council auditorium.
Attendees of the Wakefield Valley Park input meeting stick their sticky notes with suggestions on park enhancements to posters inside the Art Council auditorium. (Kristen Griffith)

He said based on responses from the first meeting the public recommended ballparks, playgrounds, a community garden for the park. Improving and expanding the trail system received the most recommendations followed by a nature interpretive center and restoration.

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During his presentation, Stone showed a map that split the park into “neighborhoods.” The neighborhood with the lake, could have a space for fishing, a playground and a future access point off of Tahoma Farm Road.

The East Meadow neighborhood could have walking paths and open lands that connect to existing trails. The Great Meadow neighborhood, which looks out to old fairways, “could have lots of different things,” Stone said. But will probably only be for open space.

The West Meadow neighborhood, which is away from the core of the park, could be where the dog park goes, as well as disc golf, which Stone said was mentioned a number of times.

The Forest neighborhood could be for reforestation and turning it back “to what it was 500 years ago,” Stone said. And the valley region will probably be for linear activities, but also reforestation and stream restoration.

Stone said a lot of the space was unallocated and does not have to be used until later down the line, or not at all. The architect said the plan won’t be complete over night and a timeline has yet to be determined.

But in the meantime, the city still wants to hear from its citizens.

Those who attended Wednesday’s presentation were given sticky notes for suggestions to place under poster paper with questions about what changes they would make to the park, does the master plan achieve its highest priority and, if there were no constraints, what in the park could the community benefit from 25 years from now?

Westminster council member Ann Gilbert said STEM and STEAM research facilities are what she’d like to see 25 years from now as well as science and technology classes being taught there.

The historic Durbin House, which dates to 1767, is slated for possible future use when the former Wakefield Valley golf course is turned into a public park.
The historic Durbin House, which dates to 1767, is slated for possible future use when the former Wakefield Valley golf course is turned into a public park. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

Gilbert fellow council member Kevin Dayhoff, who was also in attendance, noted that they use the park often.

“I’m just really excited we’re getting public input,” Dayhoff said. “It’s an opportunity to get it right.”

He said he’d want additional access points and is a fan of the environmental approaches like the stream restoration.

Other recommendations from participants Wednesday night included restoring the Durbin House for educational purposes, wheel chair accessibility, a bike parking rack and bike “playground,” pickle ball courts, a gravel extension to the existing trails, a fishing pier and a concern about increased traffic at a potential Tahoma Farm Road access point.

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