Commentary: I Love This Park

I love the Inner Arbor plan for Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods for so many reasons.

The Inner Arbor Trust recently shared a slideshow that details how the Park’s design has evolved from the earlier plan developed by Cy Paumier and describes the features the park is to include. You can see that slide show at the link provided above. I never understood the Paumier plan as it imposed a rigid, essentially circular walkway on a forest that by nature is irregular and unstructured. The plan disrespected the woods, instead making the walkway and a fountain the centerpiece of the park and linking it to the Mall.


The revised plan that received approval last month from the County Design Advisory Panel, invites people into the woodland to serendipitously discover what secrets it may hold. Those secrets herald to the world that Columbia is cutting edge, trendy, a place where nature, art, and culture are central to community life. The woodland will be enriched with planting of the understory and restoration of the natural streams. A playground is to be installed, called The Merriground, that will engage the imagination of children of all ages with its magical shapes and playful thingamabobs.

There will be numerous places to congregate, with benches and picnic tables throughout the park, including THE PICNIC TABLE, a unique destination hangout if ever there was one. The Chrysalis will be a signature community bandstand, unlike any other venue for smaller performances and concerts.  And to support the crowds that will undoubtedly come, The Butterfly is being erected to provide food and rest rooms, while enabling the rooftop to be rented to private parties for Merriweather concerts.

Jim Rouse said Columbia is a “garden for growing people.” Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods will be a garden that nourishes our community and engages young and old. It is a bold, exciting design that looks to the future and proclaims that this place is important and deserving of the best. I, for one, can’t wait for construction to begin.

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Published by

Harry Schwarz

Nicknamed “The Professor” by his colleagues, Harry is a native Marylander who moved to Columbia in 2001. Harry’s wife, Cathy, is a Columbia acupuncturist and the family includes two college-age children, a dog and a cat. Harry is a partner with BearsolutionsLLC, assisting charter school authorizers to provide effective financial oversight. He is underemployed at this time and welcomes conversation about how he might help you.

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