Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Pond in Clarksburg Town Center is getting a whole new look

Developer is laying down sod to make site less of an eyesore

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Brian Lewis⁄The Gazette
Murphy’s Grove Pond in Clarksburg Town Center is getting a face-lift, thanks to the developer.
Clarksburg Town Center residents are happy that interim work is being done on Murphy’s Grove Pond after they have been complaining that it was an eyesore for the past two years.

Bob Ditthardt, the senior project manager for developer Newland Communities, said the developer began laying down temporary sod at the pond in April and work will continue for the next few weeks.

‘‘We decided to spend a little bit of money to get that area graded and sodded so the residents have a nice area to look at,” he said. ‘‘There is still a little bit of sod we need to lay.”

Ditthardt would not disclose how much money Newland is spending on the temporary improvements. The pond area now features fresh green grass and walkways.

Emily Lederer has lived in the 23600 block of Sugar View Drive for five years with her husband Matt and their children, Caleb, 6, Adam, 3, and Lauren, 1. Their house faces Murphy’s Grove Pond and Lederer said she is happy with the new improvements.

‘‘We think it looks fantastic and we are excited,” she said. ‘‘We were looking forward to a location where we can walk with our kids and ride bikes through there. Everybody loves being able to go around the pond on their bikes and on their scooters.”

She said her neighbors are looking forward to the completion of the pond, which will eventually feature picnic benches, a walking trail and a fishing pier. Final construction of the pond is not slated to begin until some time in 2008 after the final site plan receives approval from the county Planning Board, Ditthardt said.

The Clarksburg Town Center Advisory Committee, a group of residents, uncovered hundreds of height and setback violations in the development in 2005 and spent five months in mediation to remedy those violations. The group then worked with the developer to create a revised site plan.

The new plan adds $15 million worth of amenities and landscaping to the development, but construction was suspended after the violations were discovered. The revised site plan was sent to the Planning Board in late April.

Kathie Hulley, the president of the Clarksburg Civic Association, said she is worried about the possibility that the temporary work is not temporary, but in fact the first stage toward constructing the final product. She believes the final vision for Murphy’s Grove should look completely different than what Newland is working toward, and when construction is complete the water should rise much higher than it does.

‘‘Going over and looking at it, it looks like they are spending money,” Hulley said. ‘‘If they are doing something temporary, they are spending far too much.”

In the meantime, Lederer looks forward to the pond’s completion

‘‘It is going to be, in our neighborhood, the largest public park where everybody can get together and socialize or let their kids play,” she said. ‘‘We have small little parks, but this will be nice because it has something for everybody. Adults can walk and kids can play. It is not just a playground that will attract just kids.”

Robert Dattilio, who has been living in Clarksburg Town Center with his wife Deborah and their children Kyle, 4, and Whitney, 6, for two years, said the improvements to Murphy’s Grove Pond will help tie the community together.

‘‘It is long overdue,” Dattilio said. ‘‘It looks like they have kind of stopped halfway through. It is nice that they have done that, but it looks like it still needs some more work.”

Town Center residents also complained about massive piles of dirt, gravel and mud in the development along the intersection of Ebenezer Chapel and Overlook Park drives. The dumpsite is at least 20 feet high and stretches over two blocks.

A wooden fence was placed in front of those piles of dirt early in the spring to help improve the look of the site, Ditthardt said.

Tim DeArros, vice president of the Clarksburg Civic Association and a Town Center resident, said the addition of the fence is a good representation of a new commitment from the developer to make the community look more presentable.

‘‘Newland is working carefully to reduce the untidy areas of construction,” DeArros said.