Columbia officials have drafted a plan to enhance the 16-acre park surrounding
Merriweather Post Pavilion
to make it a year-round destination for more festivals, art shows and community gatherings and not just primarily a place to see outdoor concerts.
The Columbia Association
has approved more than $2 million in spending on walkways, a plaza, additional parking and a central gathering area that will eventually include an interactive fountain and space for performances at Symphony Woods. The nonprofit, which manages the planned community in Howard County, plans to use two state grants totaling $250,000 to pay for the redevelopment.
Construction would begin after the annual Wine in the Woods 2013 in May , says Columbia Association Project Manager Jan Clark. The association has presented its plan to the county planning board, which will deliberate on it July 19. The first phase would be completed by spring 2014.
Right now, Symphony Woods’ star attraction is Merriweather Post Pavilion, whose upcoming concerts include My Morning Jacket, Bon Iver and Gotye. Columbia officials hope to offer more recreational uses once the redevelopment is complete.
“We want to make this one of the leading cultural facilities in the mid-Atlantic,” says Mark Thompson, director of downtown redevelopment for Howard County. “That’s our ambition. I’m very confident we can accomplish this.”
New pathways in the wooded area will make Symphony Woods more pedestrian and bike friendly and connect it with adjacent neighborhoods. The Symphony Woods makeover is one of many long-term projects that Columbia officials are plotting to make it look more like the open-air town center in Reston, Va.
Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Mark Thompson, Howard County; Jan Clark, Columbia Association