Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Planners poised to begin Cosca Park updates

New amenities to include more athletic fields

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Residents in Clinton soon will see upgrades to the 790-acre Cosca Park, one of the three regional parks in Prince George’s County, according to Donald Herring, a planner with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

‘‘We have to make sure all infrastructure is current,” Herring said. ‘‘For example, we have recently modified play areas so we need to upgrade the picnic area accordingly.”

Herring said many of the improvements will be to existing features.

‘‘With any facility like this, you need upgrades,” he said.

Herring plans to renovate the picnic areas by modernizing the roofs to provide a better canopy for rainwater runoff and make the picnic areas more aesthetically pleasing.

‘‘It would be nice to see upgrades to the picnic areas,” Tamara Davis-Brown, president of the Windbrook Area Civic Association said. ‘‘We need upgrades to the shelters for cookouts, including better grills.”

Davis-Brown said she frequently uses the park with her family, and her daughter takes tennis lessons there.

‘‘It’s a safe environment for kids,” she said. ‘‘I feel comfortable using the facility with my family.”

The park also has a tennis bubble with four lighted tennis courts in addition to three softball fields, two baseball fields, a lake with a boat house and 25 camp sites, numerous nature trails, two separate play areas for kids, group picnic areas, the Clearwater Nature Center and a small tram that takes visitors around the paved areas of the parks.

Herring also said residents have expressed a want for more sports fields.

‘‘We are selecting locations for a football and soccer field as well as basketball courts,” Herring said.

There also will be renovations to the Thrift Road Schoolhouse, a historic building on the park and one of the few remaining one-room schoolhouses in the county.

‘‘We’d like to use it for historical reenactments,” Herring said. ‘‘It represents the history of early Prince George’s County.”

There will also be work done to make trails that will more efficiently link the park and allow access for those living along Piscataway Road.

‘‘They won’t have to drive around the park to Brandywine Road,” Herring said. ‘‘We will be connecting the community through trails.”

There will be connecting trails to the Clearwater Nature Center, as well.

Anthony Murrill, a Clinton resident and founder of the youth organization X2REP, said he’s happy these renovations will serve the children of Clinton.

‘‘Cosca Park is a great resource for the Clinton area,” Murrill said.

But Murrill said he feels like it serves the more affluent children of the area without having much of an effect on those who really need the help. Murrill said he would like to meet with planners to work on ways the park could better service the less affluent youth of Clinton.

‘‘I don’t want to say anything bad about helping the kids, and I think this is a great idea,” Murrill said. ‘‘But everything we do needs to be more than just a Band-Aid.”

Total cost of the upgrades has not been calculated, but $150,000 has been allotted for renovations to the Thrift Road Schoolhouse and $700,000 has been earmarked for other basic renovations. That money will come from the capital improvement plan and will be available as of July 1.

There is no firm date as to when the upgrades might be finished.

Herring said there is a lot of room for new services in the park.

‘‘Cosca is a large park. It’s bigger than a lot of people know,” Herring said. ‘‘And not all the acreage is developed.”