Landscape architecture students present plans for park in Odenton
UM students' work shown to Anne Arundel officials, community members
Twenty visions for a new park near Nevada Avenue in Odenton lined the walls of a meeting room inside the Western District police station last week.
Come the end of the year, there will be one.
Students from the University of Maryland's landscape architecture program have spent the semester creating designs for a new Odenton Town Center through the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability, or PALS, program.
The program, which began in 2014, links University of Maryland students from different areas of study to needs in local communities.
On Thursday, 20 students assigned to the Odenton park project presented their concept designs to Anne Aundel County officials and community members during a public meeting at the police station.
The class will spend the rest of the semester synthesizing the 20 designs into one, based in part on the public feedback received Thursday, said Dennis Nola, chair of the university's landscape architecture undergraduate program.
It is a “back-and-forth” process that involves engaging the public and gathering information, Nola said.
“What we love about this whole PALS program is that it's real-world,” he said. “It's real-life stuff, we get to run it like an office, [the students] get to work with real people.”
Students in the PALS program are working on 27 projects in all this year, including a market study for Tipton Airport in Fort Meade and a master plan for Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center.
As part of the Odenton Town Center project, the class took a field trip to the site, four parcels of land separated by Nevada Avenue off Route 175, and studied the community's master plan, its history and how it is developing, Nola said.
The class was also asked to redesign the community's logo.
At the end of the semester, they will submit a final design for the park and the logo to the county, along with a 10- to 15-page report with background information, details about their process and recommendations, Nola said.
The county, which is paying $25,000 to support the students' design work, will decide how to proceed.
Lynn Miller, assistant planning and zoning officer for the county, said that after receiving the design from the university, the county will consider allocating funding from its capital program to further the idea of a park in Odenton. The funding could include further study, feasibility, engineering design, land acquisition and construction.
“The benefits are that we get a usable product from them, and it's a great learning experience for the students,” she said.
The proposed site now includes three houses, two of which are abandoned, Nola said. One is a historic structure known as the Disney House.
Some of the students incorporated the Disney House into their designs for the park, turning it into a cafe or giving it another purpose. In other plans, the house was demolished.
Some of the students' plans included fountains, stages, amphitheaters, gardens and pagodas.
Devan Hare, a junior from Arnold, said she wanted to capture the historic aspect of the site. She drew some of her inspiration from places she has visited, like historic Savannah, Ga.
Her plan would keep many of the trees around the outside of the park to give an “enclosed canopy” feel. It also calls for a large lawn area, a stage and a cafe.
“I have absolutely loved it,” she said of working on the project.
She was also happy that community members and others came to Thursday's meeting to see the class' work.
“This is unbelievable that so many people came out, just to check out our ideas and give us feedback,” she said.