Inner Arbor's Symphony Woods plan lacks durability, theme [Letter]

December 11, 2013

Inner Arbor's Symphony Woods plan is certainly ambitious, but the recipe is seriously flawed and needs to be rethought, perhaps with fewer cooks involved.

The most basic problem is that the plan has no central theme. There is no architectural continuity among the various structures being proposed. Nor is there any axis or natural progression as one moves through the park.

The second problem concerns durability and maintenance. Structures in a public park take an enormous amount of abuse and need to be particularly robust and easy to repair if damaged. None of the proposed structures meet this standard. How would the Chrysalis be fixed were it struck by a falling tree branch in an ice storm? How long would the mirror-finished panels on the Butterfly last?

Finally there is safety and practicality. Would any parent feel comfortable turning a small child loose in the Maze structure? And the Picnic Table is only 24 inches off the ground — high enough for children to crawl under, but difficult for an adult to follow should the child get lost, frightened or otherwise in trouble. Furthermore, the Picnic Table is built around existing trees, and existing trees are not necessarily permanent. How would damaged, dying or diseased trees be removed from the structure? How would they be replaced? And do we really want several hundred feet of plastic AstroTurf laid out in Symphony Woods' natural setting?

The plan being proposed does have some good features — the landscaping in particular stands out. However, the plan as a whole needs to be seriously reconsidered. We need a Symphony Woods that is beautiful, practical and financially feasible. The proposed plan simply doesn't do the job.

Dick Boulton

Ellicott City

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