Montgomery County seeks public input on future of Wall Park in White Flint area -- Gazette.Net



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The county wants to make some changes to Wall Park and the Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center in the White Flint area, but visitors won’t see them materialize any time soon.

Montgomery Parks held a public meeting to discuss the plans Wednesday evening.

Rachel Davis Newhouse, project coordinator for Montgomery Parks, said at the meeting that the county wants to move most of the facility’s parking to a garage planned to be built in a Gables Residential apartment development proposed for the property adjacent to the park, freeing up space for more park activities and amenities. The county also wants to expand the aquatic center on Executive Boulevard and put in a new community recreation center, as the White Flint Sector Plan recommended.

For that to happen, however, the garage has to be built. To build the garage, the apartments project needs to be cleared for construction. To build the apartments, the county needs to realign some roads recommended in the White Flint Sector Plan. Then, the proposed improvements need funding.

“There are a lot of things that are in play in White Flint right now to have that happen,” Newhouse said.

The county’s plan would mean big changes for Wall Park, which is at 4901 Nicholson Lane, and the aquatic center, which is inside the park.

While the plan’s specifics are still relatively early in the planning stages, that’s good news for residents who want to have a say in what the park and expanded fitness facilities will eventually look like. This is also the time for residents to share their concerns about how the proposed changes might affect them.

“This is when we need to hear your concerns,” Newhouse said. “... It’s still in the design phase.”

At the public meeting, some people who frequently use the center questioned whether parking would be free and readily available, and whether children would be safe walking between the parking garage and swim lessons at the aquatic center. Some said they would prefer keeping the surface parking over taking it out and putting in more green space.

Parks staff said the plan was for a certain amount of parking to be free and reserved for park patrons. They also plan for the nearest parking garage space to be no farther from the door than the nearest surface parking space, but are open to suggestions for linking the garage and building.

Montgomery Parks also wants people to help prioritize what new features should be added to the park if and when funding becomes available. Learn more about the proposed changes and share your thoughts at parkplanning.org.

ewaibel@gazette.net