In March of last year, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission issued a Request for Proposals for the adaptive reuse of the building, located at 200 Denver Rd., but did not receive any viable proposals.
Montgomery Parks then held a public meeting in December to propose the idea of a community garden and gather feedback from residents and others. In addition, the department sought comments online in January of this year and posted the results.
“There were a lot of other options and input from the community [for the park],” said Michelle Nelson, community garden program manager for Montgomery Parks, including suggestions for a bike pump track or leaving it as open green space, among other ideas.
“At this time our program actually has the funding to go forward with putting in a community garden,” she said. “The community was supportive of that, instead of it just being left as nothing there, or no amenities put back in.”
The garden proposal includes:
- Approximately 10 to 16 raised beds for use as garden plots
- Garden plots would be 12-16 inches deep, to accommodate a variety of plants
- Plot sizes would vary between 25 and 50 square feet
- Plot fees would range from $25-$35 per year
- Tool shed and hand tools would be provided
- Deer fence would be installed
- Garden would have a combination lock and be accessible to only those in the program, and
- Installation of security cameras and lighting.
“The foundation is part of the infrastructure that is there, which allows us to put in a different style of community garden,” Nelson said, “and for us to meet some other requirements that our program needs to meet.
“This site is actually ideal for a community garden,” she continued. “It has water, it has accessible parking, [and] it has accessible access to the pad. It’s also in an area that is considered food-insecure, or close to a school that has a high [Free and Reduced Price Meals] rate. So we’re using the structure to build upon what’s already there.”
The plans for raised beds, along with parking and an accessible pathway, will contribute to the increased accessibility of this garden, compared to most of the county’s other community gardens, Nelson said.
“These are positives in not only assisting anyone who may have a disability, but also it’s helping our seniors in the county that could possibly be aging out of our current program, or aging out of other programs,” she said. “It will provide another space and another amenity for them to enjoy.”
The department is currently in the design phase for the area, which is about 40’ by 70’. Once that preliminary draft is complete, it will be reviewed internally and then presented at another community meeting.
The budget and schedule for the project will be determined once the final design is complete.
In the meantime, Erin Pant, a public relations and outreach specialist for the department, pointed out that this project does not preclude adding additional amenities or features to Nolte Park in the future.
“There’s still room to go through our normal process,” Pant said, “which is the capital improvements process where we do other types of amenities.”
The foundation of the activity building remains to serve as the base for a community garden. Photo by Mike Diegel.