Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New playground to be among Montgomery Village’s largest

Officials say playground will be better, safer than the existing 20-year old structure

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By early fall, Montgomery Village will be getting a newer, more contemporary playground at South Valley Park that community leaders hope will provide revamped recreational outlet for neighboring families.

In about two months, the Montgomery Village Foundation will tear down the existing, 20-year-old playground between Watkins Mill Elementary School and the Montgomery Village Lawn Theater, and replace it with a $33,000 array of equipment including a 10-foot swing set, six climbing walls, a loop ladder and a trapeze circuit.

The new playground will be among the biggest of the 13 that the foundation owns — and one hailed as a draw for families.

‘‘You have to bring these things in,” said Bob Hydorn, president of the foundation’s board of directors, which approved the project June 26. ‘‘You have to stay with the time, you can’t have the old concrete turtle.”

The playground will be moved away from a pond for environmental and safety reasons, and will take up about three times more space, in part because of new federal guidelines, Hydorn said.

Construction should begin in 8-10 weeks, by West Recreation, Inc. of Queenstown on the Eastern Shore.

The Montgomery Village MOMS Club, Heron’s Cove Condominiums and Center Stage Condominiums have given their support.

‘‘The proposed new playground appears to be a great improvement over the old one ... and should provide a very inviting play area for community youngsters,” wrote Rose Capriotti, manager of Heron’s Cove in a May 23 letter to the foundation. ‘‘... The play area should make a positive impact on our youngsters who need safe and entertaining places to play.”

But the South Village Homes Corp. has lingering concerns over how the site might be supervised and the possible environmental impacts. Mark Firley, South Village’s president, would like the foundation to consider sending private security to patrol, or possibly have one of the foundation’s recreation counselors monitor it during peak times.

‘‘We understand that this is going to benefit the community as a whole,” he said. ‘‘... There’s nothing insurmountable there, it’s just that I’d like to see it explicitly addressed.”