Top Planner Completes Yearlong Tour of 421 Parks
Anderson visited every county park in 2018, documenting needed upgrades
Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson and County Council member Gabe Albornoz test the playground equipment at South Gunners Branch Local Park in Germantown.
A 2018 New Year’s resolution could pay off for Montgomery County parks in 2019.
At the beginning of last year, county Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson set out on a mission to visit all 421 parks in Montgomery County.
Armed with addresses and a route optimization app, Anderson spent much of his spare time traversing the county’s green space.
He completed his goal last week with a final stop at Camp Seneca Special Park in Boyds. His journey started at Woodside Urban Park in Silver Spring.
“You always hear people in areas of the county saying they don’t have enough parks or the right kind of parks, so I wanted to see for myself and get a comprehensive look at the park system’s strengths and weaknesses,” Anderson said. “I think I can tell anyone in any part of the county authoritatively we have excellent parks everywhere. There’s nowhere you can go and be far from parks with a range of experiences.”
Throughout his journey, Anderson documented any issues he found and reported them back to the county Planning Department. Many of the issues he found were minor – such as adding signs to mark some parks as public land, and though not a long list, Anderson said he felt it important to address areas for potential improvement.
Some parks he noted needing minor improvements were Rock Run Stream Valley Park near the Potomac River, Hawlings River Stream Valley Park north of Olney and New Hampshire Estates Neighborhood Park in Takoma Park.
“I’m not suggesting we should build a parking lot or have an official trail, but we should at least put up a sign so if people want to explore it’s clear it’s available for public use,” Anderson said.
Overall, Anderson said he was pleased with the county parks, and his tour reaffirmed that all of the public parks, not just the well-known, are operated at a “high level of quality,” which translates to improved quality of life for residents across Montgomery County, he said.
Anderson is also chair of the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission, responsible for regulating real estate development planning transportation and infrastructure and manages the park systems in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The Montgomery County portion of the bi-county parks department has a 135.6 million budget for fiscal 2019. Major projects to replace playground equipment countywide and trail development are outlined in the department’s $107,514,000 six-year capital improvements program for 2017-2022.
“Parks build community and can allow people to gather and spend a day together doing whatever they like to do,” Anderson said. “That’s the power of parks beyond giving people a place to get some exercise and conserving natural resources, it’s also part of the glue that holds a community together.”
In 2019, Anderson hopes the county emphasizes versatile park spaces in urban areas that could be used for various events, such as pop-up dog parks and shops.
With 2018’s goal accomplished, Anderson entered 2019 without a finalized resolution, but said he was considering traversing all of the county’s paved and natural surface trails, which would total several hundred miles.