By Mallory Panuska, Frederick News Post
Saturday, April 1, 2017

57a2bb3034046.imageCity officials’ vision for the Westside Regional Park at Hargett Farm seems to finally be coming together.

The proposed park is slated for a large piece of vacant, city-owned property along Butterfly Lane known as Hargett Farm. City leaders in 2009 paid $18 million for the land, which has since accrued roughly $1.5 million in annual debt service with little to no progress toward development.

Until now.

It may not seem like much, but the mayor has included $2 million toward infrastructure, design and construction funds in his fiscal 2018 budget. And a group of community members are appointed and ready to tackle fundraising and other efforts to move the project forward.

Mayor Randy McClement said Wednesday the investment would be the biggest one the city has proposed for development costs since the city bought the land.

The first meeting of the Westside Regional Park Task Force has also been set for 7 p.m. April 19 at the city’s Municipal Annex. Officials said the public is encouraged to attend and offer comment.

The task force will be made up of 14 people representing education, regional recreation, economic development, user groups, and neighborhood/other groups.

Members appointed thus far are:

  • Paul Lebo — Frederick County Public Schools
  • Chuck Mann — higher education
  • Bob Hicks — Frederick County Parks & Recreation
  • Joe Baldi — City Parks & Recreation Commission member
  • Deb Reynolds — Golden Mile Alliance
  • TBD — Chamber of Commerce
  • Melissa Muntz — tourism
  • Rob Fox — aquatics
  • Bo Eskay — soccer
  • Shauna Tunder — Neighborhood Advisory Council 5
  • Lance English — Neighborhood Advisory Council 8
  • Frank Strakonsky — resident
  • Ed Hinde — resident
  • Alderman Michael O’Connor — aldermanic liaison

City-hired consultants prepared a $98.5 million plan for the park and presented the intricate details to aldermen in August. The aldermen balked at the price and scope, which specifically called for a sports complex with multi-use fields and a stadium, a water park, an indoor swimming center, festival grounds and associated park facilities, among other developments. The plan was sent back to city staff members for tweaking and a new “bubble plan,” was presented and approved in January. The new plan identifies sections, or bubbles, and lists facilities, amenities and infrastructure that could go in each one.

Members of the task force are tasked with guiding development of the park as funding becomes available and soliciting private donors to help pay the cost. The project is slated to be funded through a public-private partnership.

Details about the plan are available on the city’s website at: www.cityoffrederick.com/documentcenter/view/6769.

City snow app receives statewide award

Frederick may have only had one major snow storm this winter, but that did not stop the city from getting statewide recognition for a newly initiated app designed to track snow removal efforts.

The City of Frederick Snow Removal Application won first place in the professional category at the Towson University GIS Conference on March 20. Application designer Bill Adkins demonstrated the app during the conference and accepted the first-place award.

Mayor Randy McClement recognized staff members from the Geographic Information Systems and Public Works departments, who were responsible for developing the app, Wednesday during a workshop with the Board of Aldermen.

The application, which city officials launched March 13 and 14 during a storm that dumped between 6 and 8 inches of snow across the city, provides citizens and staff the ability to track snow removal progress after a winter weather event.

The app displays a map of all the streets in the city and updates which ones are cleared as crews plow them. Similar to an online utility map, it shows information such as road conditions, road classifications and snow removal regions. The road conditions have colors designating they are unplowed, treated, started or cleared and the colors change as crews tend to them.

Staff members spent about six months creating the application in-house to use this winter.

The app had about 1,100 hits during the storm.

A banner initiative

The Golden Mile Alliance is — presumably — just a few months away from putting up banners around the Golden Mile.

Economic Development Manager Bobby Baumler told alliance members at their regular monthly meeting on March 21 that only a few loose ends are left to tie up before 50 30-foot, by 60-foot banners are on display.

The banners, which are similar to ones set up around Everedy Square and Shab Row in downtown, are part of a new beautification and branding initiative.

Baumler said he has pretty much finalized a memorandum of understanding with Potomac Edison to put up the banners and is nearly ready to give the go-ahed to begin the work. He was leery about giving a set timeline, but said it would be soon.

Group members plan to give plenty of notice before putting them up so business owners and the public are aware when it happens.

Baumler said he is trying to work it out so all of the banners are put up around the same time.