Let Symphony Woods Be HOWARD COUNTY

June 04, 1993

Symphony Woods.

The name itself speaks of a quiet serenity. For many Howard County residents, this park-like setting that sits adjacent to the Columbia Mall has come to mean just that. Its stately forest of trees with high branches and broad trunks are a picturesque reminder of what the area was like before so much development took place.

The Columbia Association, which manages Symphony Woods, has taken to calling it an urban park. The association is spending $22,000 to hire a consultant to determine what can be done to Symphony Woods as more and more development encircles the mall. Officials say they want to preserve the park while at the same time promoting its public uses.

Here's hoping they are true to their word.

The Columbia Association is not known for taking on subtle projects. Its penchant is for high-tech athletic clubs, glitzy skating rinks and amusement park-like swimming flumes. It would be a shame for such extravagance to alight on Symphony Woods. The only proposal to surface thus far has been a carousel, but even that may prove too much of an intrusion.

To his credit, Fred Pryor, the association's vice president for open-space management, seems to have the right idea.

"Most Columbia residents view every single tree as important," Mr. Pryor said recently. "A wooded park near town center is to be very valuable to residents."

Furthermore, association officials readily admit, Symphony Woods is already a fragile environment.

Because its rolling hills are manicured, leaves are not allowed to collect on the ground and provide natural nutrients to trees. A few pathways and picnic benches already lure revelers, and the 12-acre Merriweather Post Pavilion, a major concert venue, is tucked inconspicuously within its borders. Recently, the park was host to a successful Wine in the Woods event.

Isn't that enough activity for an area so beautiful and already environmentally sensitive?

We think so.

We hope whatever consultant's report is written reflects the wish that Symphony Woods be left, quietly and serenely, alone.

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