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Germantown’s Town Center Urban Park to Have Grand Opening Saturday

October 13, 2015

Montgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will celebrate the opening of Germantown Town Center Urban Park on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 5:00 pm. Montgomery Parks in partnership with the Germantown Library, BlackRock Center for the Arts and the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce will unveil its newest urban park with live jazz, free food samples, free fun activities for families including a story walk, story time and bubble activities and more at this special event.

   A ribbon-cutting ceremony and opening celebration of Germantown Town Center Urban Park, featuring live jazz with the Gerry Kunkel Quartet, tasting stations hosted by area restaurants, bubble games and a special guest appearance kids will love.

   “This park is unique in its location, design and the role it will serve this community,” said Michael F. Riley, Director of Montgomery Parks. “Situated adjacent to the library, arts center and a variety of businesses, Germantown Town Center Urban Park plays a critical role in this community – the third most populous in Maryland. It is an open space for people to gather to get to know each other and enjoy time spent outdoors.”

   The new park is situated at the northern end of an 8.80-acre parcel of land shared with the library. The site has been challenging to develop due to the presence of existing wetlands, existing stormwater management facilities and steep slopes, according to the parks and recreation department. Due to site constraints, the park is passive in nature, meaning no ball fields or playgrounds. 

   Features of the park include the creation of additional open space areas by placing a large stormwater management facility underground, new interpretive trails and boardwalks, lighting, overlook terraces, water features, a pavilion that could be used for community festivals and events, and enhanced wetland areas for education and interpretation of nature.

   One of the more eye-catching components of the park will be the new stylized pergola which will sit near the center of the park. The steel nest-like structure consisting of intertwining steel branches was designed by Baltimore-based artist David Hess, an award winning artist and sculptor with installations at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore as well as Pierce Park along Baltimore’s waterfront.

   The pergola is 14,000 feet of material that was twisted in the Hess’s studio near Baltimore. Hess and his crew then transported the piping materials to Germantown to build the pergola piece by piece by drilling holes in the tops of the boulders to hold the pipes.

   “There is a tradition of working with found-branches and vines in architecture,” said Hess, “such as benches made out of grapevine. That is what the art in the park is trying to evoke, a familiarity that ilk. It is intended to look very natural without the bark and the details. If you used bark as a handrail it wouldn’t feel great on your hand, but it would function.”

   Indeed, much of the art in the park will be constructed of that stainless-steel branch-like materials. There will be benches and hand-rails which will fit with the birds-nest motif of the pergola.

   “The pergola is a feature in the park that draws you to it,” he said. “When I build something I want it to look like it was naturally part of that space. You don’t see a pattern to it, it looks like a bird or beaver built it.  The park has that theme in it.”

   County parks officials had hoped to have the new park open in time for residents to enjoy this spring, but the harsh winter slowed progress on the new park which is located behind the Germantown Public Library.

   The grand opening celebration will take place on Saturday, Oct. 17 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. In case of rain, the rain-date is Sunday, Oct. 18 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. If it is still raining on the rain date, October 18, we will host the ceremony in the Community Room of the Germantown Library.

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