By Kristen Milton
Laying groundwork for the arrival of a hundred-year-old carousel will be the primary objective of the Ovid Hazen Wells Recreational Park Master Plan, planners agreed last month. The 290-acre park is currently operating under a master plan approved in 1995. The update will have three main goals, approved at the planning board’s May 22 meeting: In addition to planning for the installation of the Ovid Hazen Wells carousel currently located at Wheaton Regional Park, planners hope to determine if a future Clarksburg Community Recreation and Aquatic Center can be constructed at the park as well as incorporating two historic properties in other areas of the park. “You want to arrange these amenities in such a way that they help each other,” parks director Mary Bradford noted. “People like destination parks; they like going where there’s lots to do, so that’s what we’ll probably end up with here if we’re lucky.”
Ovid Hazen Wells currently hosts the Red Wiggler Community Farm as well as soccer, baseball, and softball fields, picnic shelters, and a playground. A condition of its donation to the commission in 1981, however, was the eventual relocation of the carousel. “It’s a major issue,” planning coordinator Rachel Newhouse said. “The people of Clarksburg want it, so that’s what this plan will focus on.”
While the area now has the population to support the popular attraction, Newhouse said, the support infrastructure such as restrooms, electricity, and a protective structure all need to be provided. Funding for the carousel’s removal and reassembly will also be included in upcoming budget discussions.
Board member Mary Wells-Harley noted that the removal of the carousel will be “a big loss to the Wheaton area.” Newhouse said the department was looking at replacement options, including a solar-powered carousel, for Wheaton Regional Park. Meanwhile, input of the community is being sought in developing the master plan update. A webpage has garnered such suggestions as a Frisbee golf course, amphitheater, and tennis courts, as well as the idea of leaving the undeveloped portions of the park in their current “pristine” condition.
One opponent of the aquatics center idea wrote: “Why would Clarksburg want a bunch of Germantownians invading with a ton of people every weekend? Put [the] aquatic center at the SoccerPlex in Germantown and leave Skylark [Road] alone.”
Newhouse said property adjacent to the current recreational area was recently advertised for sale and might facilitate the construction of the aquatics center if acquired. Expansion of the Red Wiggler Farm, which is working on its own strategic plan, is also possible.
“We just keep hearing from the community how much they love that farm,” Newhouse said. Several online commenters mentioned the farm’s good work in providing both local produce and employment for the developmentally disabled.
The board unanimously approved a schedule for the master plan update that would result in a staff draft being completed in July; a public hearing in September; and final approval in November.
The project webpage, including community comments, is located at www.montgomeryparks.org/PPSD/ParkPlanning/Projects/ovid.hazen.wells.