The first major step toward implementing the proper infrastructure to support the long-awaited Westside Regional Park passed Thursday with flying colors and little to no discussion.
The Frederick Board of Aldermen voted in a unanimous 4-0 majority, with Alderman Josh Bokee absent, to award a $260,986 contract to Daft McCune Walker to design the realignment of Butterfly Lane to accommodate the future park.
The Baltimore-based architectural and engineering firm, which has a satellite office in Frederick, will design a new, 2,500-foot alignment for Butterfly Lane between Himes Avenue and Jefferson Pike at Swallowtail Drive. The contract includes a $285,986 purchase order and a $25,000 contingency for potential unforeseen adjustments to the scope of work.
The money for the design was allocated in the fiscal 2017 budget. In May, the aldermen approved an additional $2 million for construction costs in the fiscal 2018 budget. That money is the first real investment city officials have made toward development at the park since they bought the 136-acre tract for $18 million in 2009. The land, known as Hargett Farm, has sat vacant ever since and accrues roughly $1.5 million in annual debt service.
Mayor Randy McClement said officials are hoping for construction to commence on the Butterfly Lane realignment by summer 2018.
The design for the new road is set to turn the current Himes Avenue intersection into a cul-de-sac and make the new cross section a four-lane road with 12-foot lanes. The design is also set to include a median, sidewalks, accelerating and decelerating lanes, a shared-use path, curbs and gutters, trees, streetlights, stormwater management and utilities. The design will also include plans to terminate the existing Butterfly Lane at Acropolis Way in an appropriate fashion through coordination with city agencies. The project also includes design for Contender Way.
Plans for Westside Regional Park are still up in the air, with an ad hoc task force in the midst of discussing the options. The group, which formed in March, is made up of a cross section of community, government and business representatives who are tasked to meet for one year and tackle a series of goals. The goals include completing the park’s design and engineering, overseeing implementation of an approved, $98.5 million “bubble” plan and developing design standards for the park.
Aldermen in January approved the bubble plan, which is a simpler version of a detailed proposal that elected officials initially rejected in August. It identifies sections, or bubbles, and lists facilities, amenities and infrastructure that could go in each one.
The original plan 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 elements.
Last week, members of the task force heard from Maryland Sports Commission executive director Terry Hasseltine, who told them that developing the land properly could help make the area a regional sports destination.
An indoor aquatics center is also included in the bubble plan and could be a possibility at the site, especially now with the recent loss of Frederick High School’s swimming facility.