Park plan moves ahead

Better lighting, seats among updates eyed for Locust Lane site

Drawings due this month

Council might vote on design in May, see building started by fall

April 17, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

The small park at Locust Lane in downtown Westminster could someday become a meeting place, complete with an outdoor cafe, a gurgling fountain and benches, according to recommendations from residents and businesses.

"This is really the largest public open space in downtown Westminster," said Westminster Common Councilman L. Gregory Pecoraro. "It's like the town square."

Between Davids Jewellers and the Optical Solution, Locust Lane was created in the 1970s as a shopping area and pedestrian walkway from Longwell Avenue parking lots to East Main Street.

The city, which owns the Locust Lane area, intends to redevelop it to help its seven stores meet accessibility requirements. An $8,150 grant from the Main Street Improvement Program will partially pay for the design. The city will cover the cost of building the project.

A meeting to collect ideas from residents and business owners on how to improve and update the Locust Lane pocket park and the area in front of the Westminster library branch was held this month.

Suggestions from the 25 people who attended included increasing lighting at the park; replacing the benches and fountain that have been removed because of vandalism and other reasons; and removing old shrubs in the grassy area beside the brick plaza.

Sandra L. Ebaugh, Westminster's community development specialist, said she was pleased with the ideas and called the meeting "very positive."

Using residents' and business owners' ideas, landscape designers Slater and Associates of Columbia will create concept drawings for the park and area in front of the library. Their drawings will be returned to the city this month, and the city council could vote on a plan next month, with construction beginning by autumn.

"We're trying to think about ways we can really make use of that space to add some life to the downtown," Pecoraro said. "We want to create a vibrant downtown. ... This area is a key part of making that happen."

Because the library is run by the county, Carroll's commissioners and the library board would have to approve plans for any changes made on the property.

Lois Leasure, branch manager for the Westminster library who attended the meeting, stressed that improving the crosswalk between the park and the library's East Main Street entrance was of utmost concern. Leasure said she was nearly hit by a car three weeks ago as she tried to cross the street at the crosswalk. Library patrons also have mentioned their concerns about the crosswalk, she said.

"It's a major concern that we do something about this crosswalk," said Leasure, who said that drivers need additional warnings to stop for pedestrians in front of the library. "If you're going to do anything down here, you've got to make sure the part in the middle [of the two areas] is safe."

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