Thursday, March 3, 2011

draft letter to County Council regarding renovation of Kemp Mill Urban Park

On March 1, 2011, the MCCAB's Quality of Life Committee approved the following draft letter to the County Council regarding the planned renovation of Kemp Mill Urban Park. The Committee recommends that the MCCAB approve this letter at its next meeting on March 15. The letter is a draft unless it is approved by the MCCAB.


March XX, 2011

The Honorable Valerie Ervin

President, Montgomery County Council

100 Maryland Avenue

Rockville, MD 20850

Dear President Ervin:

On behalf of the Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board (MCCAB), I am writing to thank the Council and the Montgomery County Planning Board for moving forward with the process of renovating the Kemp Mill Urban Park. I reiterate the MCCAB’s support for expediting the renovation of this park, which is a vital resource for the Kemp Mill neighborhood. Unfortunately, the park has significantly deteriorated since its construction in the 1960s. At a public meeting on January 12, 2011, consultants engaged by the Planning Board presented a recommended design concept for a park renovation to the Kemp Mill community. This design was based on input received from residents at two prior public meetings in 2009. Residents generally praised the recommended design but also offered substantive comments. The new design is meant to accomplish several goals, among them:

  • Retain an open water feature in the park while discouraging geese from inhabiting the park,
  • Expand the playground,
  • Provide a continuous walkway through the park,
  • Provide a lawn area outside the playground, and
  • Provide a balanced program to serve all users.

We support the general direction of the design but would like to offer some technical comments:

  • Although the playground area would be expanded from its current size, we are concerned that it will still be insufficient for the large number of families and children who use it. We urge the Planning Board to consider a larger expansion of the playground.
  • We recommend that the Planning Board develop a plan to maintain the pond’s filter mechanism that will filter leaves, twigs, and aquatic vegetation.
  • We recommend that the Planning Board develop a maintenance plan for cleaning the large quantity of trash that accumulates in the park on a regular basis; we are concerned that this trash could clog the water filters.
  • We recommend that the Planning Board examine the environmental and health implications of using a recycled rubber surface for the playground in the renovated park. The MCCAB has previously expressed concern about the installation of artificial turf fields that include material from old rubber tires (see attached letter).

At the public meeting, Planning Board staff indicated that it would likely take between two and six years to complete the park renovation. Because of this lengthy timeframe, we urge the Planning Board to work with Montgomery County Government to improve the maintenance of the park until the renovation begins. Given the Planning Board’s limited resources, staff could organize periodic community clean-up events to help maintain the park.

According to the Planning Board’s website, the renovation design is currently being refined and will be presented to the Planning Board for approval in the summer or fall of 2011. We request that the Council communicate to the Planning Board our technical comments on the design and our support for moving forward with the renovation. Further, we encourage the Council to include funding for the park’s renovation in the next Capital Improvements Program budget so that the renovation can begin as soon as possible.

The MCCAB has supported the renovation of the Kemp Mill Urban Park for several years (see attachments). We look forward to working with the Council on this issue. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share our views on the importance of renovating this park.

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