After 7 Years of Work and Spending Half a Million, Gateway Park May not Get Built

After spending more than half a million dollars and hundreds of hours of staff and community time over the past seven years, the Gateway Park project may not finally see the light.

The project is scheduled to go for construction in fall this year and completion early next year.

However, that may not happen if the City Council does not approve the allocation of $43K in grant money, at next week’s Council meeting. This small shortfall is a fraction of the total $1.5 million budget for the park. City Staff has secured the necessary funds for the project to take it to completion. The vast majority of the funds (nearly 94%) will come from the State and other grant sources. Only a small fraction (6%) would come from the City budget.

(A concept design of the Gateway Park)

At last night’s Council worksession, the City Council discussed whether to allocate the small shortfall ($43k) into this project, or another potential project elsewhere in the city. If the Council does not vote to approve this small allocation, that will essentially kill the park project.

Back in December, 2008, the City bought the old house at the corner of Route 1 and Edgewood Road. The idea was to turn the spot into a pocket park and give it a welcoming landmark to the visitors coming to College Park from the beltway and the north of College Park. Park elements include a pavilion with green roof and roof terrace, bio-retention facilities, permeable walkways, native plantings, wind-driven sculpture, play area and interpretive signage. The idea of this pocket park was to offer nearby residents and their children a recreational place that they can walk to and enjoy a good time. Visit centennialroofingplus.com/ for you roof repair needs.

You can see some concept design pictures here.

A little more than half a million dollar has already ben spent so far. The completed work includes property acquisition and the detailed design. Storm water management permits have also been obtained.

The park project has a long and interesting story.

Even before the park property was purchased, City Council started applying for funds to design the Gateway Park, even before the property was bought. For example, at its March 11, 2008, meeting, the Council approved a resolution to apply for a grant to “design phase 1 of the Gateway Park”.

Also, on November 13, 2008 , the NCPCA (North College Park Community Association)  supported  a resolution authorizing the city to build the “concept of construction of the Hollywood Gateway Park, under the city ownership”. It also asked to get the citizens’ feedback on the construction.

In 2010, the City Council voted to authorize the city staff to pursue a grant to fund design and building of the Gateway Park.  3 council members voted against the proposal. Interestingly, two District 1 council members took opposite sides in the park decision. While the then Council member (current Mayor) Wojahn supported the project, Councilmember Nagle opposed.

Back in 2011,  the City worked with students in the University of Maryland’s Landscape Architecture program to develop design alternatives for the site through a competition and nine student teams prepared drawings for the site. The NCPCA approved the concept of the park design and hosted the designsYou can view the drawings here.

(Residents reviewing park design at the NCPCA meeting)

In the fall of 2012, the City put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to hire a designer to engage in a complete design of the park with input from the U-MD proposals and the resident committee. The City selected the Flora Teeter and Whitney Bailey Cox and Magnani, LLC as the design consultant for the project. The designer worked with the Local Project Design Committee made up of residents, adjoining property owners, State Highway Administration representatives, and City staff, to consult on the design.

In May 2013, the design consultants prepared conceptual design alternatives and a preferred design was selected by the Project Advisory Committee and presented to the North College Park Community Association (NCPCA). The design was discussed and approved by the City Council.

Back in May 2013, the City explored ideas for incorporating interactive, educational wind and weather features into the park, a brainstorming session was arranged with scientists and the Public Affairs office of the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction. Many ideas were discussed including having a weather station, windmill, cloud machine, cisterns to make it rain, cloud identification, weather vane, sundial and art projects involving wind socks, wind chimes and whirligigs. The opportunities are quite promising and could possibly involve ongoing participation from NOAA and an active relationship with the Hollywood Elementary School.

Though some residents appreciate the project, others expressed concerns about the accessibility and safety to the park, especially when the project’s idea was first introduced to the community. In order to make the park accessible from 47th Place, the City spent $80K to acquire the small parcel on the back of the house located next door to the park. The final design will also include decorative bollards to secure the park from vehicles in the nearby streets.

It took the City some time to acquire the piece of property between 47th Place and the park property. That’s why you probably didn’t see much activities in the past two years or so.

After the City acquired the property, the City also demolished the old house early this year.

After spending so much money and time, I don’t really think we should kill this project at this late stage. Please let the Council know what you think. You can send your comments to the entire City Council at cpmc@collegeparkmd.gov 



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1 Comment to “After 7 Years of Work and Spending Half a Million, Gateway Park May not Get Built”

  1. By Matthew Byrd, June 7, 2017 @ 1:32 pm

    I respectfully disagree with the Councilmember’s conclusions about this property. This “park” has been nothing but a (literal) sink-hole for city funding since its inception, and the subject of an endless series of speculation, contests, and competitions to find the most exotic possible transformation of what is little more than a mud pit.

    The most useful configuration of this property would be as a water reservoir, not a park. It might not be glamorous, but it would help prevent some flooding and soil erosion in the neighborhood, at least.

    Enough is enough. This property wasn’t worth its $346,000 price tag in 2009, and isn’t worth any further spending being lavished on it. Please just plant some trees there, and be done with this boondoggle.