|PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MARYLAND NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK |
& PLANNING COMMISSION
Like Rome, the South Germantown Recreational Park in Maryland wasn't built in a day. But given the 690-acre project's immense scope, it's downright impressive what has been completed in only three years. And a lion's share of the thanks goes to the public-private partnership between the Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) and the Maryland Soccer Foundation, a nonprofit organization. By 2006, the new park will welcome about 1 million visitors a year, roughly 60 percent for soccer and 40 percent for the park's other activities.
"It's world-class," says Migs Damiani, project manager, speaking of the park's facilities, which have attracted a lot of international attention and praise. "We have people visiting constantly."
He credits the tremendous community, regional and state support that helped propel the project forward.
"All government agencies were behind this project," Damiani says. "The underlying factors, however, were the tremendous leadership from Bill Hussmann and a private partner, John and Maureen Hendricks, who were determined and put a time line on the project."
It was kismet that so many things all clicked into place. For example, the State of Maryland chipped in $4 million to the project for road improvements.
"That's why it may be very difficult to ever duplicate," Damiani says.
Even so, there's no denying the project's outcome.
"When you ask kids and their parents about the park, the word they use is awesome," Damiani says. "It's getting raves by everyone."
The total price tag for the entire project when completed will probably be around $75 million, with half of the funding coming from the private sector. Three thousand new homes surround the park. Some of the park's bragging points (of which there are many) include:
|PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MARYLAND NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK |
& PLANNING COMMISSION
The 162-acre Maryland SoccerPlex, which includes 19 regulation-size, laser-leveled, irrigated soccer fields, and a 3,200-seat championship field with pro-stadium-quality turf and lights.
"The soccer community—100,000 regionally and 25,000 locally—is blessed with being able to play regularly on these fields," Damiani says. "We've already hosted many national youth soccer tournaments."
Three outdoor soccer fields will be added in 2003/2004, and two more are planned for 2005/2006, bringing the total to 24 outdoor soccer fields. Each field is surrounded by a berm for spectators, and there is also parking for 75 cars per field, conveniently located adjacent to each cluster of fields.
The facility is immense—and needs continual maintenance to keep up the turf quality. A typical weekend tournament might translate into 228 games and up to 7,000 players and spectators.
"The roads were designed to handle the traffic," Damiani says. "At full operation, there might be 8,000 cars per day."
The cornerstone of the SoccerPlex is the Discovery Sports Center, a 66,000-square-foot indoor multisport recreation facility featuring the area's two largest indoor soccer fields as well as locker rooms, meeting/party room and concessions. During the off-season, the center houses other indoor sports including basketball, volleyball, roller/field hockey, baseball training, rugby and lacrosse.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN LEWIS|
The 40-acre Central Park, which soon will have a 3.8-acre lake used for shoreline fishing and model boats and an ornamental pond connected to the miniature-golf area by a meandering stream. It currently has a Maryland-themed tot lot and a restored dairy barn (the King Barn Dairy Mooseum) offering tours and a glimpse of the area's history. The park also has a golf driving range (a public/private partnership with Germantown Golf Club), a model airpark with a 600-foot paved runway, two softball fields, two baseball fields, two outdoor tennis courts, two outdoor basketball courts, nearly seven miles of hiker-biker trails, and seven comfort stations serving the park.
Within Central Park, a 12,000-square-foot outdoor splash play area, with water features designed by Rain Drop Products, in collaboration with Paddock Pools, draws about 700 kids on a hot summer day.
"We thought we'd get 400, and it's the age range that's surprised me," says Damiani, noting its popularity with 18-month toddlers and preschoolers to older kids and parents.
Using water that is recirculated, filtered and chlorinated, the splash play features are computer choreographed to make the water dance and spray. In addition to many spray and jet features, there is a water maze, 36-foot in diameter, which shoots water up from 280 jets 12 feet in the air, forming a water barrier. Once inside, kids must follow a pathway within the water maze to find their way out. The center of the maze has a foaming geyser feature. There is also a 34-foot-long by 8-foot-high waterfall that allows kids to play inside or underneath the sheets of water that cascade down. The waterfall's simulated rocks are the work of ThemeScapes.
Another perk of Central Park is its seven-acre, $1.8 million Adventure Playground, which boasts several venues for kids' imaginations, including an ivy-decorated medieval castle, suspension bridge, 30-foot sea serpent, and Spanish galleon with crow's nest. The castle alone can hold about 100 people and has 25 different activities. The playground has its own 175-space parking lot.
|PHOTO AND ART COURTESY OF LEWIS SCULLY GIONET LANDSCAPE |
ARCHITECTS/©ROGER FOLEY 2002
Central Park also features two 18-hole championship miniature golf courses with practice greens built by Harris Miniature Golf Courses in Wildwood, N.J. Forgoing the windmills and clowns, these courses are decked out with water features and landscaping.
On 12 acres just inside the Central Park entrance is the future home of the Germantown Aquatic Center and Germantown Athletic Club and Spa, scheduled to open fall 2004 and fall 2005, respectively.
Operated by Montgomery County's Recreation Department, the $17 million, 55,000-square-foot indoor aquatic center will have a competitive pool with high-diving platforms and seating for 800; water flume and 10-meter diving platform; a separate warm-water recreation/lap pool; a shallow, warmer water leisure pool with slides and splash play features; and two hydrotherapy pools. Meanwhile, a private partner will own and operate the $20 million, 100,000-square-foot Germantown Athletic Club and Spa, offering six indoor tennis courts; racquet and squash courts; an over-size basketball court; a restaurant; indoor running track; a daycare area; fully equipped health and fitness center with 30 kinesiologists; tanning and massage facilities; a spa for 30 people; three outdoor tennis courts and outdoor eating facilities.
For more information
Rain Drop Products LLC: 800-343-6063
Harris Miniature Golf Courses, Inc.: 888-294-6530