Wheaton carousel slated to move to Clarksburg -- Gazette.Net


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This story was corrected at 2 p.m. on March 27, 2014. An explanation follows the story.

Most of Clarksburg may be new and growing, but plans are in the works for the community to also house a colorful, fun and entertaining reminder of earlier days.

Planned for relocation to the Ovid Hazen Wells Recreational Park in the Arora Hills area is a merry-go-round built a century ago that once operated at the National Mall near the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The move of the carousel from the Wheaton Regional Park is being considered along with the update of the Ovid Hazen Wells 1995 master plan now being done by Montgomery Parks, a division of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

The Wells family required the purchase of the carousel and location in the park when they deeded their 290-acre farm to Montgomery Parks in 1981.

Part of the update is deciding on a final location in the park for the carousel, which is 40 feet in diameter and features 36 animals and two chariots.

“Clarksburg has continued to grow, and it can now support the carousel, which is why we’re trying to get it out there,” said Rachel Newhouse, planner coordinator with Montgomery Parks.

The carousel and train ride in Wheaton Regional Park open for the season on April 12 in time for spring break from school.

Also part of the 1995 master plan update is finding a possible site for construction of a regional community recreation/aquatics center in the park or surrounding Clarksburg area.

Park officials, who are seeking public input on the carousel and master plan, will attend the free, sixth annual Kites over Clarksburg family fun day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the park.

“The Clarksburg Civic Association started it as a community-uniting event,” said co-organizer Kathie Hulley with the association.

It is co-hosted by Montgomery Parks and the community nonprofit Clarksburg Foundation.

Organizers invite residents to bring a picnic, roast marshmallows and fly kites.

“It’s very low key,” Hulley said. “Evidenced by the number of kids, there’s a lot of interest in the park.”

Kites are available for purchase at cost for $1 to $10, and there will also be a limited supply of free kite-making materials.

Visitors who bring canned food, used eyeglasses or hearing aids to donate to local charities will receive raffle tickets for prizes from local sponsors.

Local clubs and associations will also provide information about their activities.

“It’s a fabulous park for flying kites — there’s a small hill,” said Lynn Fantle, planning chairwoman of the Clarksburg Civic Association.

When the carousel might be moved to Ovid Hazen Wells is not yet known, said Christine Brett, with the Enterprise division of Montgomery Parks.

Designed to be disassembled, the carousel will likely be moved by truck during the off season (November to April) when the ride is closed.

Two possible locations at Ovid Hazen Wells include a site near the former Wells house near the center of the park and the already developed area at the southwest end of the park along Skylark Road, Brett said.

Brett also said that the carousel will be replaced in Wheaton with another carousel.

“It’s very popular,” she said about the carousel and train rides. “It’s a heavily used facility.”

Hulley said she’s glad the long-required move is now in motion.

“The final location will be determined by many things [such as] sewer access and roads,” Hulley said.

Wells and wills

Born in Tennessee, Ovid Hazen Wells moved to Washington, D.C., in 1918 and worked in the White House police service. His wife, Hallie Wells, worked for the War Risk Insurance agency serving World War I vets.

During the 1940s the Wells bought 290 acres of farmland in Clarksburg west of Md. 27 and north of what is now Skylark Road. In 1981 Hallie Wells donated the land, named for her husband, to Montgomery Parks.

In exchange, Montgomery Parks was required to buy, for not more than $60,000, the Hershell-Spillman carousel that James Wells operated at the Mall and eventually move it to the park.

The southwest edge of the park has already been developed with two soccer fields, two softball fields, a baseball field, three picnic shelters and a playground. There are also trails connecting the amenity areas and parking for 285 cars.

Curving through the longtime farm in the south and east is the Little Seneca Stream Valley, and in the center of the site are more than 60 acres of farm fields, currently leased to a private grower.

Besides a proposed recreation/aquatic center, future development ideas include a recreation area in the center of the park that would feature a fishing pond, miniature golf, a picnic area and possible the carousel near the former Wells house.

Also envisioned is a community garden in the eastern end of the park close to MD 27. During the “Vision 2030” long-range planning process, there was “a huge cry for community gardens in Germantown,” Newhouse said.

Also under consideration is a trail system within the park and a greenway link to Damascus Regional Park, the Little Bennett Regional Park and Black Hills Regional Park.

After meeting with Clarksburg residents and organizations, planners expect to present a draft recommendation to the county Planning Board in July, followed by a public hearing in September.

Maps, a presentation made to the Upcounty Recreation Advisory Board on Feb. 19, and information about the Wells deed can be found at montgomeryparks.org. Search for “ovid master plan update.”

The original version included the wrong acreage for the park. Also, planners are considering including a community garden in development plans, but a specific location has not yet been identified nor has a timeframe been set for the carousel move.

vterhune@gazette.net