Howard awards first contract on long delayed Columbia park

Work to begin next month

November 01, 2010|By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun

Work to transform 25 acres of fields and woods into a section of what will eventually be 300-acre Blandair Regional Park in East Columbia is to begin next month, following the award of a $6.2 million construction contract for the first of seven phases.

The money will pay for three lighted, synthetic-turf athletic fields, a playground, a parking lot for 270 cars and pathways for pedestrians and cyclists. A second contract is expected in several weeks to provide a picnic shelter and bathrooms. The land for the first phase is south of Route 175 and west of Oakland Mills Road. the majority of the land, including the 19th century mansion house, and outbuildings, is located north of Route 175. The contract represents the end of more than 11 years of legal wrangling and delays after the county, with state help, bought the former farm of the late Elizabeth C. "Nancy" Smith in 1997.

"I'm thrilled that we are ready to get underway," said County Executive Ken Ulman. The first phase construction is scheduled for completion by next December. Urban N. Zink Contractor Inc. of Chase, Md, won the work. Plans for the park play into a massive redevelopment of downtown Columbia too, because it is envisioned as a major part of a bicycle and transit route stretching from Howard Community College through the town's Lakefront and across Route 29 to Oakland Mills Village, where the park begins.

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