The story of Carroll Creek Park is a long, complicated and expensive one. After decades of planning and development, the first portion of the park finally opened on June 21, 2006.
The park isn’t just a park, of course: it is a flood mitigation project that was desperately needed after the floods of 1972 and 1976, which caused millions of dollars in damages to Downtown Frederick.
State Sen. Ron Young (D-Frederick.), who was mayor of Frederick at the time, insisted that new infrastructure was needed in order to manage future floods. However, Young wanted to ensure that the project was going to be attractive for the town, unlike the initial plans of a large-scale, unappealing sewer system that would have run through downtown.
He instead worked with teams of architects to develop the plan for Carroll Creek Park, which was inspired by the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas. The park, as it stands now, features bridges, walkways and a 250-seat amphitheater for public performances.
People walking along the creek now might not know about the four conduits that run underneath the park, which take water from Baker Park and move it toward the Monocacy River. Each conduit is large enough for a truck to drive through.
The original plan cost $60 million, which was three times the city’s operating budget. Young was able to secure some funding from the state by pitching the project for economic development, instead of one for community beautification or even flood mitigation.
The flood control system was finished in 1993. Construction on the park did not begin until 12 years later in 2005.
The first phase of the park, from Court to Carroll Streets, opened on June 21, 2006. That same summer, it was host to events like Alive @ Five and community festivals.
The next phase, which cost $15.8 million and spanned the eastern portion of the creek, was not finished until 2016.
The project cost over $200 million in public investment, plus over $200 million in private investment.
Since, several residential buildings and restaurants have gone up alongside the creek, in addition to the renovations of the C. Burr Artz Public Library and many other surrounding buildings. Young's promise of economic development panned out as the park became an epicenter of downtown Frederick.
Fourteen years later, the park remains open and has become a cultural and economic hub for Downtown Frederick. There are still plans to extend the park further east, which will be the final phase of construction.