Land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dents present plans for park in Oden­ton

UM stu­dents’ work shown to Anne Arun­del of­fi­cials, com­mu­nity mem­bers

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Megan Brock­ett

Twenty vi­sions for a new park near Ne­vada Av­enue in Oden­ton lined the walls of a meet­ing room in­side the Western District po­lice sta­tion last week.

Come the end of the year, there will be one.

Stu­dents from the Univer­sity of Mary­land’s land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture pro­gram have spent the se­mes­ter cre­at­ing de­signs for a new Oden­ton Town Cen­ter through the Part­ner­ship for Ac­tion Learn­ing in Sus­tain­abil­ity, or PALS, pro­gram.

The pro­gram, which be­gan in 2014, links Univer­sity of Mary­land stu­dents from dif­fer­ent ar­eas of study to needs in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

On Thurs­day, 20 stu­dents as­signed to the Oden­ton park pro­ject pre­sented their con­cept de­signs to Anne Aun­del County of­fi­cials and com­mu­nity mem­bers dur­ing a pub­lic meet­ing at the po­lice sta­tion.

The class will spend the rest of the se­mes­ter syn­the­siz­ing the 20 de­signs into one, based in part on the pub­lic feed­back re­ceived Thurs­day, said Den­nis Nola, chair of the univer­sity’s land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gram.

It is a “back-and-forth” process that in­volves en­gag­ing the pub­lic and gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion, Nola said.

“What we love about this whole PALS pro­gram is that it’s real-world,” he said. “It’s real-life stuff, we get to run it like an of­fice, [the stu­dents] get to work with real peo­ple.”

Stu­dents in the PALS pro­gram are work­ing on 27 projects in all this year, in­clud­ing a mar­ket study for Tip­ton Air­port in Fort Meade and a mas­ter plan for Ar­ling­ton Echo Out­door Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter.

As part of the Oden­ton Town Cen­ter pro­ject, the class took a field trip to the site, four parcels of land sep­a­rated by Ne­vada Av­enue off Route 175, and stud­ied the com­mu­nity’s mas­ter plan, its his­tory and how it is de­vel­op­ing, Nola said.

The class was also asked to re­design the com­mu­nity’s logo.

At the end of the se­mes­ter, they will sub­mit a fi­nal de­sign for the park and the Den­nis Nola, chair of the land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gram at the Univer­sity of Mary­land, talks with stu­dents be­fore Thurs­day’s pub­lic meet­ing on the class’ de­sign for a new Oden­ton Town Cen­ter. Twenty stu­dents pre­sented their de­signs. logo to the county, along with a 10- to 15-page re­port with back­ground in­for­ma­tion, de­tails about their process and rec­om­men­da­tions, Nola said.

The county, which is pay­ing $25,000 to sup­port the stu­dents’ de­sign work, will de­cide how to pro­ceed.

Lynn Miller, as­sis­tant plan­ning and zon­ing of­fi­cer for the county, said that after re­ceiv­ing the de­sign from the univer­sity, the county will con­sider al­lo­cat­ing fund­ing from its cap­i­tal pro­gram to fur­ther the idea of a park in Oden­ton. The fund­ing could in­clude fur­ther study, fea­si­bil­ity, en­gi­neer­ing de­sign, land ac­qui­si­tion and con­struc­tion.

“The ben­e­fits are that we get a us­able prod­uct from them, and it’s a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the stu­dents,” she said.

The pro­posed site now in­cludes three houses, two of which are aban­doned, Nola said. One is a his­toric struc­ture known as the Dis­ney House.

Some of the stu­dents in­cor­po­rated the Dis­ney House into their de­signs for the park, turn­ing it into a cafe or giv­ing it an­other pur­pose. In other plans, the house was de­mol­ished.

Some of the stu­dents’ plans in­cluded foun­tains, stages, am­phithe­aters, gar­dens and pago­das.

De­van Hare, a ju­nior from Arnold, said she wanted to cap­ture the his­toric as­pect of the site. She drew some of her in­spi­ra­tion from places she has vis­ited, like his­toric Sa­van­nah, Ga.

Her plan would keep many of the trees around the out­side of the park to give an “en­closed canopy” feel. It also calls for a large lawn area, a stage and a cafe.

“I have ab­so­lutely loved it,” she said of work­ing on the pro­ject.

She was also happy that com­mu­nity mem­bers and others came to Thurs­day’s meet­ing to see the class’ work.

“This is un­be­liev­able that so many peo­ple came out, just to check out our ideas and give us feed­back,” she said.

“The ben­e­fits are that we get a us­able prod­uct from them, and it’s a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the stu­dents.” Lynn Miller, Anne Arun­del County as­sis­tant plan­ning and zon­ing of­fi­cer

MEGAN BROCK­ETT/BALTIMORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

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