Late American botanist and horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey is famous for articulating the significance of hard toil behind eye-catching gardens.
“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.” So do all green areas that are meant to be most community-friendly.
In Montgomery, Maryland, the county officials have made it clear they embrace this line of thinking and accordingly devised an ambitious multi-year plan to more than triple the number of fields they attend to.
From Schools to County: Let The Work Begin
According to a May 23 report by Bethesda Magazine, the county will add 232 fields to the nearly 100 it currently takes care of. Those new fields most of which are presently under supervision of public schools are expected to start getting maintenance upgrades as soon as possible in parallel to school system holiday breaks.
At a joint meeting of the Montgomery County Planning Board and Board of Education earlier in May, Parks Director Mike Riley said the County Council has directed his department to create a “more aggressive plan” to “take the rest of these fields into our fold.”
Riley’s department is now in the process of going through specifics of that planned expansion and identifying revenue sources to make it happen.
“The majority of the council members are very engaged and excited about improving public fields, not just for the leagues, but for school kids, athletes and community users,” Riley is quoted as saying in the same report. “We will radically improve these fields.”
Each field the Parks Department inherits undergoes extensive renovations, including soil, fencing and drainage enhancements. That initial investment is followed by what should be necessary for later maintenance such as routine mowing, chalking and inspections.
Based on the county’s previous spending, it is understood that a single field may need between $50,000 and $100,000 to be renovated. A cost estimate for having all the additional 232 fields go through a similar work was, however, not shared at the joint meeting.
Expect Temporary Closures
To allow county staff to prepare those new fields for long-term and efficient use, each field that undergoes revitalization will remain closed for some time, school system Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman said.
“If we want to get this right, they have to be closed for a while,” Zuckerman said in the same report. “We have to set them up for success.”
Montgomery County just north of the nation’s capital has a population of over 1 million people today. And in comparison to the larger Washington metro area, the county qualifies as an area inhabited by wealthier and older residents, as per figures from Data USA.