By Mallory Panuska, Frederick News Post
Sunday, February 11, 2018

599645b0b9e26.imageAs members of the Westside Regional Park Task Force sift through options for developing the bulk of the Hargett Farm space into a multi-use recreational spot, other details of development are coming together on the side.

On Wednesday, the Board of Aldermen discussed a request to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the National Park Service to use space on the 130-acre, city-owned site for vehicle, equipment and materials storage in exchange for providing repairs and maintenance for the building and grounds. Park Service officials would also provide a presence at the property and help facilitate future growth and activity on the parkland through public outreach and educational opportunities as part of the working agreement.

The aldermen briefly discussed some of the details of the agreement and unofficially signed off on it. They will vote on it at an upcoming public hearing.

Members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission are also set to discuss the document at their next meeting on Tuesday.

And on Monday, the city’s Planning Commission is set to get into the Westside Regional Park action with two other requests. One is a request to approve a final site plan for construction of three parking lots on the site as part of the realignment of Butterfly Lane. The other is a request to approve a preliminary forest conservation plan associated with that site plan.

The realignment of Butterfly Lane is the first step toward development of the property. The Board of Aldermen approved $2 million in the current budget for construction costs associated with the road project. In August, the board approved a design contract to begin the work, which is set to commence in the summer.

Plans for the amenities in the park are still in the works.

In the beginning of 2017, the board approved a concept plan that sectioned off areas of the site and listed facilities, amenities and infrastructure that could go in each. Shortly after the plan approval, the Westside Regional Park Task Force was formed to research the details and narrow down the options.

In the fall, members of the task force and Parks and Recreation Commission both respectively gave positive recommendations for a request to construct a memorial playground on an area of the future park tentatively slated as the “Festival Area,” which is adjacent to Butterfly Lane just east of farm structures on-site.

Sophie & Madigan’s Playground will pay homage to the memory of young sisters Sophie and Madigan Lillard, who passed away five years ago in a fire at their Myersville home. Sophie was 6 and Madison was 3.

Shortly after the tragic event, their family members created a nonprofit group called Sophie & Madigan’s Playground to raise money for a playground to honor the girls.

Bob Smith, the city’s deputy director of parks and recreation, said officials are working on a memorandum of understanding between the city and the nonprofit for construction of the playground at the park. Once the document is finished, the Board of Aldermen will discuss it at a workshop and eventually vote on it at a public hearing.

If all goes as expected, dirt should begin moving on the playground in the summer.