Flat­tops could soon be ‘en­hanced’ as a 34-acre ‘pas­sive park’

Re­cre­ation and parks ex­plores im­prove­ments

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By TAY­LOR DEVILLE tdev­ille@somd­news.com

Thirty-four acres of open space at the old Lex­ing­ton Manor neigh­bor­hood on Co­ral Drive, once known as the Flat­tops, could soon be beau­ti­fied and de­vel­oped into a pas­sive park.

The par­cel, which to­tals 84 acres and was pur­chased for $6.5 mil­lion by the county in 2004, has re­mained va­cant af­ter a pre­vi­ous board of county com­mis­sion­ers de­cided against re­de­vel­op­ing the land due to its po­si­tion in the AICUZ, or Air In­stal­la­tion Com­pat­i­ble Use Zone, which lim­its high-den­sity devel­op­ment.

Since then, the north­ern sec­tion of the old Lex­ing­ton Park neigh­bor­hood, ad­ja­cent to Lan­caster Park, has been uti­lized for the county’s first cherry blos­som fes­ti­val, fun run events

and the county’s an­nual June­teenth cel­e­bra­tion. There is also a disc golf course there.

The St. Mary’s County Re­cre­ation and Parks Depart­ment is work­ing with the county’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment depart­ment, Naval Air Sta­tion Patux­ent River, the Uni­fied Com­mit­tee for Afro-Amer­i­can Con­tri­bu­tions, the sher­iff’s of­fice, the St. Mary’s County Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and other stake­hold­ers to “en­hance that area” and cre­ate “a pas­sive, walk­ing trail, run­ning type of park,” Arthur Shep­herd, di­rec­tor of re­cre­ation and parks, told the com­mis­sion­ers in Oc­to­ber.

Cur­rently, the par­cel in­cludes trails and around 150 cherry blos­som trees, but Shep­herd wants to see a lighted pedes­trian and bike trail “from Wil­lows Road al­most to Gate 2” of the base, as well as cleared trees and veg­e­ta­tion to cre­ate “clear sight lines through the prop­erty,” he said.

With a con­cept site plan an­tic­i­pated next spring, other im­prove­ments will most likely be made to the site, in­clud­ing as­phalt over­lay, min­i­miza­tion of traf­fic south of Lei Drive near Three Oaks Cen­ter, and pos­si­bly more park­ing space. The county has bud­geted $75,000 this year to pave the road, park­ing lot and side­walks around the nearby U.S. Col­ored Troops In­ter­pre­tive Cen­ter.

With the land’s prox­im­ity to Lan­caster Park, Shep­herd an­tic­i­pates “fam­i­lies

who use Lan­caster Park dur­ing the day” could move to the pas­sive park af­ter Lan­caster fills with “cars and sports ac­tiv­ity” in the evening, to en­joy “the same type of pas­sive re­cre­ation — walk­ing, pets, strollers, car­riages, trail run­ning,” he said.

The county plans to en­gage re­gional artists in the de­sign plan to drive home the con­cept of an art park, and the im­prove­ments are in­tended to open the area up for fes­ti­vals and events, al­though den­sity in the area is re­stricted by the prox­im­ity of the Navy base.

No more than 50 peo­ple per acre are al­lowed to con­gre­gate in the area un­der AICUZ des­ig­na­tion. Re­cre­ation and parks would need per­mis­sion from NAS Pax River for larger events, but so far “they’ve been re­cep­tive and sup­port­ive” of the project, Viki Volk, di­rec­tor of the Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Corp., said.

Com­mis­sioner Mike He­witt (R) likened the con­cept for the open space to An­n­marie Sculp­ture Gar­den in Calvert, and said “I like it, good idea.”

“The more we can do to find ways to pro­mote eco­nomic devel­op­ment down there … will af­ford us a good op­por­tu­nity to tie the devel­op­ment dis­tricts of Lex­ing­ton Park and Leonard­town in a more syn­er­gis­tic man­ner,” Com­mis­sioner Todd Mor­gan (R) said.

“The abil­ity to draw in more mil­len­ni­als who want a more ur­ban set­ting than a ru­ral set­ting could be ad­van­ta­geous to us also,” he added.

If the site plan is ap­proved, the project could be­gin con­struc­tion as early as next sum­mer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.