Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ June 2015

Waiting for the Grass to Grow at North Four Corners Park

By Carolyn Ibici

Recently, a group of civic board members met with North Four Corners Park project manager Marian Elsassar, construction manager Bob Kane, and new park manager John Boyd for a walk-through of the park.  While there is nothing they can do to bring back our nice local park, they did try to reassure us that everyone is working hard to bring varying schedules together and overcome setbacks, so the project will be completed in stages.

The wide, impermeable walkway next to University Blvd.

The playground is now open.  It is already full of kids playing and running around.  However, the playground lacks adult-sized seating; the “benches” currently installed are the bright blue squiggles that look like they are part of the playground equipment.  The response is that they will look into installing a bench with a back once the contract work has been completed.

The basketball and tennis courts are available too, albeit in the midst of a construction zone.  Of course, the main question we had was when we could look forward to the actual grand opening.

NFCCA representatives Fiona Morrissey (in hat), Carolyn Ibici (pointing), and Jim Zepp met with North Four Corners Park project manager Marian Elsassar (center) and new park manager John Boyd (left) in May to discuss our concerns.

The “soft” opening — when the project is basically completed — will be sometime before the fall; no date provided as yet.  The official ribbon-cutting opening will be this fall, a year behind schedule.

However, the reason behind all the upheaval to our park — the soccer field — will not be open for some time.  Evidently, the first application of seed was a bust and they had to redo this, so the field will not be ready for permitting until next spring. By the way, “adult-sized” soccer field means 11 years old and up.

The new playground behind the rec center is now open.  The curved piece (foreground) is an uncomfortable bench for adults.

During the walk-through, we expressed concern regarding the condition of the trees.  Elsassar did say a Maryland forest ecologist will be surveying the site and provide feedback.  While there is a certain amount of overplanting done, they will have trees replaced if they are obviously not thriving.  Invasive plants will be cut back one more time and they will be sprayed as well.  Once the park is open, the maintenance will be turned back over to the park manager.

One topic discussed throughout the walk was the storm-water management system being put in place.  The objective is that it will allow rainwater to filter down rather than run off.  These areas will be wet but should not hold water for “more than 24 hours” (this timeframe grew to 48 and 72 hours over the course of our walk) and will not be a breeding ground for mosquitoes due to the materials beneath the ground.

They made some revisions to the initial work done to the Royalton Road side for this new stormwater management.  Grasses and plants do need to grow before they can observe if this management system is working there and in all areas of the park.  Elsassar assured us there will be monitoring and that adjustments will be made as needed.

Another concern was the restroom status; there will be two porta-potties installed under the enclosure that looks like a bus shelter next to the University Blvd. side parking lot.  There will not be any additional water fountains other than the one next to the rec center.

The fenced ~185-year-old black walnut tree abuts the new soccer field.  Since the newly planted trees in forefront have no watering bags, will they survive the brutal heat of summer?

Many folks have expressed concern that we now have the view and noise of University Boulevard traffic clear across the park.  There is also a lack of shaded seating.  Answer:  we need to wait for the trees to grow and provide more of a screen.  So, sunscreen and a hat for now.  Earplugs?

Like it or not, the park is here to stay in its new form.  It is up to us, as residents, to stay invested in our park by continuing to follow the progress of the project and do our part to keep it safe and clean.   ■

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