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Westminster’s plans for Wakefield Valley Park include multipurpose fields, amphitheater

The updated master plan for Wakefield Valley Park no longer includes baseball fields but seven miles of wide trails, multipurpose fields and pickleball courts.

The final public input meeting for the park took place Wednesday night at the Carroll Arts Center at 6 p.m. and 7:15 p.m., and Westminster’s recreation and parks department presented some of the features of the park they were set on before bringing it to city council. Although the department had many features picked out, they still wanted the public to weigh in on what should be prioritized.

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Three meetings were arranged to hear suggestions from the public about what the park should look like. The first meeting was held in December and the second meeting in late January. Some of the ideas included bike trails, pickleball courts, and a fishing pier. And one man had an idea for the entire land to be a hotel and golf resort.

Abby Gruber, director of Westminster’s recreation and parks department, referenced the resort idea at the beginning of the meeting and made clear to attendants and viewers that a golf resort is not a “viable option.”

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She said the city appreciates what Wakefield has become to the community — peaceful, a place for outdoor activities and wildlife viewing — and that the plan is to protect it. They kept development to a minimum, she said and left areas undisturbed.

Gruber said there will be four multipurpose fields, dog parks, playgrounds, an event pavilion with restrooms and an amphitheater. The master plan also includes a fishing pier and will not include baseball fields nor lights. The park core covers 32 acres, which leaves 155 acres undeveloped. Gruber said it reflects the city’s desire to keep the park as natural as possible.

Wakefield Valley was the site of a golf course for some 35 years before it went out of business. The property was acquired by Westminster in February 2016. It has been part of the city’s adopted strategic plan that identifies priority projects to work on through 2018 to 2021. Pennoni Associates, Inc. was authorized by the city to help with the master plan’s development and grant money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund will fund the plan.

Peter Stone, senior landscape architect with the firm Pennoni Associates, Inc., said during the second meeting the public recommended ballparks, playgrounds and a community garden for the park, as well as requests for trail improvements, a nature interpretive center and restoration.

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He said Wednesday night that one of the biggest revisions they made to the park from last meeting is eliminating some of the ball fields they had on the east of the parking lot. And other changes were minor, he added.

The park will have seven miles of trails that go around the entire park with wide paths that will allow for biking, walking and other activities that can be done on hard surfaces.

Stone said people were concerned about the amphitheater and explained it will not be a place for a “huge loud concert with lots of people.” Instead, it will have a small structure and open grass catered to small performances.

He said another concern was about the access points and noted that the existing one off of Bell Road is narrow, with no sidewalks and has a sharp turn. He said improvements can be made, but recommended an access point off of Tahoma Farm Road that already has a sidewalk and a good connection to Union Town Road.

Other features in the master plan include restoration for streams and trees, adding the multipurpose fields, pickleball courts and disc golf locations.

Stone said the plans were not necessarily set in stone and told the public future changes can be made.

The attendants at the meeting were asked to write on a sticky note their top five features of the park they would prioritize for the three areas: trails and natural areas, recreations and facilities and access and infrastructure. Gruber said it will help them prioritize investing.

Marc Austin, wearing a shirt that said “Gamma Pickleball” said he listed pickleball courts as his first priority, followed by playgrounds, multipurpose fields and dog parks.

He said he is a professional pickleball instructor and a national pickleball ambassador representing Carroll County. He was accompanied by fellow Carroll national ambassadors, Bob Eney and Larry Wood.

Judy Powers, who lives next to Wakefield Valley, said she was concerned about the noise that could come along with the park.

“Our backyard is right there,” she said. “A lot of people are concerned about the noise.”

She added ballfields could bring about whistle blowing, and how she did not want a quiet afternoon to be disturbed by loud noises. Powers said she hopes trees or landscaping can be added to create a visual block and noise barrier of the park.

“As we all know, it’s impossible to please everyone,” Gruber said. “But believe me, we tried.”

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