Westminster lays out $783,000 plans for park

Renovation of facility key to application for $1.5 million from state

September 16, 2001|By Jamie Manfuso | Jamie Manfuso,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Westminster officials are looking to a new state Smart Growth program to refurbish aging facilities at City Park, enhance a small pedestrian mall, and extend the city's first hiking and biking trail.

The city plans to submit a request for more than $1.5 million to the Community Parks and Playgrounds Program by the deadline tomorrow.

The $11 million fund helps local governments build and improve parks, playgrounds and green space.

Westminster's wish list is topped by $783,000 worth of improvements to Westminster City Park.

The bulk of that money-$525,000 - would go to replace a retaining wall built by the Works Progress Administration during the Depression.

The wall was built without adequate drainage.

"Some of the wall areas are in a very poor state of repair," said Thomas B. Beyard, director of planning and public works.

"In fact, we've had to keep people away from some [areas] because of safety concerns."

This year's city budget allocated $75,000 to create plans for a new wall and for repairs to the existing structure.

The city also would like to improve restrooms, resurface basketball and tennis courts, and replace dugouts and bleachers at the park.

Councilman Roy L. Chiavacci, who serves as a liaison to the city parks board, said the park has become a popular place that features outdoor movies, concerts and other activities.

But competition for funding will be tough. State officials say there is a serious backlog in park and playground improvements.

"It appears that [the need] is much greater than we have funding for," said Chip Price, director of Program Open Space.

City officials made the park improvements a priority in their bid for the grant money partly because there are few other sources of outside funding that could help pay for the repairs, Beyard said.

Two other projects that the city wants money for - improving the Locust Lane pedestrian mall across from the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library and extending the Wakefield Valley Community Trail - could be eligible for money through other programs.

The city is asking for $413,000 to make the pedestrian mall safer, more aesthetically pleasing and more accessible to the disabled.

Westminster also has asked for $350,000 to extend the Wakefield Valley Community Trail, the city's new hiking and biking path.

In late July, the council awarded a $348,000 contract to Westminster-based Thomas Bennett & Hunter Inc. for the construction of the first part of the trail, a 0.8-mile segment of blacktop that will extend from Long Valley Road to Tahoma Farm Road.

The state funding, if awarded, would allow the city to extend the trail 0.9 miles from Tahoma Farm Road to Stoneridge Overlook.

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