Construction of Columbia's Blandair Park began four years ago, but the project was conceived long before that: Howard County legislators first asked for funds to build the park more than 15 years ago.
Monday, County Executive Ken Ulman honored one of Blandair's biggest proponents, Del. Frank Turner, by dedicating the park's fields in his name.
"Frank has been a longtime supporter of recreation and quality of life in Howard County," Ulman said. "This is a fitting tribute to someone who has dedicated his life to making Columbia a better place to live."
Turner, a Democrat who has represented District 13, which includes Columbia, in the State House since 1995, has supported Program Open Space as well as the bond bills that provided funding for the project, which will cost about $50 million to complete.
Phase I of the park is now open, and includes three lighted synthetic turf multipurpose fields, which were named for Turner, as well as press boxes and bleachers, a playground and a parking lot. The entire park, when finished, will be 298 acres large.
Turner said the "stars lined up" when it came to funding for Blandair. "We had money in the budget" when he first asked for funding in the late 1990s, he said. "That was a different time in Annapolis."
Turner said he was "honored" that Ulman named the fields for him, but, he added, "it was really less about me than it was about 6,000 kids that live on the east side of Howard County that need a place to play."