Gazebo Park ? Mysterious Cable Work ? : LUSENET : Kentlands : One Thread

Please excuse my ignorance, as I am a relative newcomer, moving in in November, 99. I have two questions, and wonder if anyone can help with answers:

a. What is the status and/or plans for the Gazebo park on Hart Road? The bricks have been removed under the gazebo, but there does not appear to be any movement toward relaying them, or completing the project.

b.What exactly is the cable work being done to the garage lane between Hart Road and Booth Street. I certainly wasn't aware that construction would make access to our garages impossible for two days.

Many thanks for any responses.

Best regards.

Bill Fish

-- William M. Fish (, May 26, 2000


The issue of the gazebo in the park on Hart Road came up at the last Council in the Communities meeting here in the Kentlands. Apparently, the developer constructed the gazebo without providing any infrastructure for utilities, and the city of Gaithersburg was going to insist on their proper installation. It looks like that is the work that is being done. There was also mention of a problem with the grading, which may be delaying completion. Contact Gaithersburg's Planning and Code Administration Office (301-258-6330) for a complete and up-to-date answer. They can probably also answer your question about the cable work.

The city is also looking for suggestions on the park's use. So far, conducting a weekly a farmer's market is one of the ideas I have heard. Personally, I think a more appropriate place for such an activity would be in one of the large parking areas across the way. This was an idea that was put forth at the Lakelands/Midtown charette. With proper utilities, the park can be used for other activities such as fairs and theatrical presentations.

-- Victor W. Macdonald (, May 27, 2000.

The City held an ideas meeting at the Clubhouse on March 22 regarding the "Gazebo Park". More than a dozen suggestions were made for how the park could be used. The farmers' market was a very popular idea and, I understand, is being pursued by the City for the fall. I was sent the minutes of that meeting by Janet Limmer, "Janet Limmer" , 301-258-6350, Department of Parks and Planning. I'm sure a call to her or to Michele McGleish would get you all the info. The folks at the meeting unanimously suggested Midtown Park as the name for the area that is readily accessed by both Kentlands and Lakelands residents.

-- Joel Aronson (, May 27, 2000.

The structure you all are talking about is a "pavilion" rather than a gazebo, and the area has informally been known as the Pavilion Park. Hopefully, the City will rename it the Midtown Park as has been suggested. In addition to the pavilion, there will be some public art, a lawn area, some plantings, and some street furniture. There was discussion at the last Board meeting about putting together an informal advisory committee to help the City in determining appropriate uses for the park. Michele McGleish, the City's Director of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs, is responsible for the project, and she is being assisted by Janet Limmer.

-- Dick Arkin (, May 27, 2000.

I believe the cable/fiber work is being done by contractors for starpower in the telecom right of ways to provide us with competitive voice and data broadband services. I say let them dig all they want, so I can take advantage of these services. I think the Kentlands community is VERY behind the rest of the world in gaining access to services like DSL or Cable modems.

Pavilion or Gazebo, that is the question!?! Whatever it is, I'm tired of looking at it.

-- Eric Martinis (, May 30, 2000.

If we are going to talk semantics, "Pavilion Park" is nice for the alliteration, but we are talking about a "square" here, aren't we? I seem to recall Andres Duany hammering into us, at the March 1996 Midtown-Lakelands charrette, the differences between a "square," a "park," and a "plaza," so that we would be able to ask for open space by name and know what we were getting. By those definitions, we are getting a square at Midtown and Hart Roads, not a park.

One of the squares in the original March charrette plan (i.e., the plan presented to the public at the conclusion of the charrette) was to have had a gazebo at one end. The concept for this square--an elongated triangular stretch along much of the block of Hart Road that runs into Midtown Road--was a holdover from earlier planning; in fact, DPZ had used an early concept sketch of it as a Christmas card one year. During the postcharrette revision process, this square changed in shape, location and essential identity, evolving into the Midtown Square currently being constructed at Hart and Midtown Roads. The gazebo grew into the Chautauqua-like pavilion that we now see there.

At the same time, there was to have been a civic building fronting an ice-skating rink/plaza in the "town center" (now, "Market Square"). This civic building was to have been architecturally special, compared to Midtown's commercial buildings, and, during the charrette, the possibility was set forth that it could be a pavilion, such as the one in Chautauqua. In fact, the Town Crier (May 15, 1996) reported as one of the "interesting features" of the March charrette plan: "a large open-air, roofed, Chataqua (sic)-like assembly hall . . . that could also be used for musical performances or dancing." Pavilion, or otherwise, the civic building disappeared from the plans for the town center very early on. A large plaza--which was to have replaced the ice-skating rink during the off-season times for skating--never materialized, as that space is being used for miniature golf, instead.

Perhaps, the apparent folding of the maybe-Chautauqua-like-pavilion that was to front an ice- skating rink/plaza in the town center into a square that was originally conceived as having a gazebo on it has contributed to some of the confusion over "Gazebo Park"/"Pavilion Park." At any rate, I certainly hope that, whatever its final name, it will be called what it is, namely a square. Speaking of which, does anyone have any ideas for a name, other than Midtown Square, or Pavilion Square?

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, June 07, 2000.

The history of Midtown and the various buildings and structures proposed for it is complex. Midtown has gone through several dozen (literally) iterations, and what we see in the Midtown/Market Square area represents an evolution from the most recent set of proposals that were developed during and after the Lakelands-Midtown Charrette several years ago.

First, some definitions: The term square denotes a portion of land within the limits of a city or town that is usually synonymous with "block," that is, the smallest subdivision bounded on all sides by principal streets. In the urban design sense, it usually denotes a more or less rectangular space not built upon (or only partially built upon) that is set apart for public passage, use, recreation, or ornamentation. Its most common usage is for a parcel of ground (usually roughly rectangular) occupied by a courthouse and other public buildings, almost always surrounded on all sides by public streets.

My understanding of the distinctions Andres Duany was trying to draw in his presentation at the at the Lakelands-Midtown Charrette related more to the design characteristics and the ultimate uses of the space. A public square may be a park and a plaza at the same time. The long triangular space at the intersection of Main Street, Midtown Road, and Hart Road (which is not surrounded on all sides by public roadways), which has public art, a "pavilion" shed, and a lawn, is more in the nature of a park or plaza than a public square.

There were no real public squares that were part of the original Lakelands-Midtown Charrette plan, although there was a public/private square in the Beatty retail development bounded by Wast Market Street, Main Street, the Cross Street (now called Centrepoint Way -- ouch!), and East Market Street. The functions of the space, its configuration, and its location are why the informal group that met with the City recommended adoption of the name "Midtown Park."

The Chatauqua-like structure that was proposed at various times to be erected at several places in Midtown, including a site near what is now the intersection of Golden Ash Way and Hart Road, is not the same structure as was eventually approved by the City for the park in Midtown.

While there have been several gazebos proposed from time to time in Kentlands, the only one in an adopted plan was the gazebo that was supposed to be erected for the Assembly by the developer in the Assembly-owned common area next to Upton's Department Store, more than a half-mile away. This is not the same structure as the one now being built in Midtown.

Indeed, the developer briefly proposed to erect a different (and much larger) gazebo-like structure for the City in the Midtown park, but the City turned down that proposal and substituted a rectangular pavilion shed.

The concept sketch that DPZ used in a Christmas card was quite different and was a long rectangular space located along what was then called Main Street, but which is now known as Hart Road. It was not a part of the Midtown/Market Square plan adopted following the Lakelands-Midtown Charrette.

The original City building proposal for Main Street predates the Lakelands-Midtown Charrette, and was envisioned as a place for City offices and municipal functions. The Midtown Park was a substitute for this earlier proposal and the civic building on Main Street disappeared before the Charrette began. Another building fronting the ice rink eventually morphed into the Lakelands office building. At the same time, there was to have been a civic building fronting an ice-skating rink/plaza in the "town center"

The 1996 Town Crier article reported that the Midtown plan that grew out of the Lakelands-Midtown Charrette included a Chatauqua-like assembly hall to indicate its style (wooden, roofed, floored, open-air/without walls) and noted its suggested uses (assembly, performances, dancing, etc.). This is what eventually evolved into the pavilion shed in the park in Midtown.

Under the Charrette plan, there was a large private plaza that would have been open to the public that was to have replaced the ice-skating rink during the off-season. This plaza did not materialize because most of the space is used for miniature golf, with much of the rest set aside for future restaurant cafe seating.

It is hard to understand why there should be any genuine confusion about what to call the park, although there is certainly room for differences of opinion. While a square was considered for Midtown at one time, this park is not a public square as that term is generally understood. There has never been a gazebo as part of an adopted plan for this park, just the pavilion shed that is still under construction.

The term "Midtown Park" was proposed because the space is a small public park with park amenities, it is located in the Kentlands side of Midtown near the Lakelands border, and it is intended to be an urban focus for the entire Midtown/Market Square area. Calling it Midtown Park lets all Gaithersburg residents know exactly where it is, identifies it as a public space, and implies it will be an active space.

The group's proposed name is only a suggestion, however, and anybody who wishes to make a different proposal is free to do so.

-- Dick Arkin (, June 07, 2000.

Good heavens! What a response! Still, Dick, if we go by the definitions that Andres Duany provided at the charrette, the public space that is being constructed at Hart and Midtown Roads is a square and most definitely not a park.

According to Mr. Duany, an urban park is "essentially, a piece of nature which is captured in the urban fabric" (I love that description) that provides relief from urban life. It is a naturalistic, green open space that has irregularly planted trees and may have lakes. A square, by contrast, is an open space in the city that is more formal and artificial in its appearance. It has formal plantings and is in the English tradition. A square has more green than a plaza, which has its origins in Spanish tradition and is basically a paved open space.

To my admittedly urban-designedly untrained mind, those definitions make sense. Certainly, they are from an exceedingly authoritative source. As for other comments in my posting, they are all accurate, and I am not quite sure what points you are trying to make, Dick.

Again, just for fun, does anyone have any ideas for a name for the square being constructed at Hart and Midtown Roads?

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, June 07, 2000.

One of the points I was trying to make is that the definitions enunciated by Andres for "park," "plaza," and "square" sound good, but they are not universally shared.

The dictionary defines a park as a piece of ground in or near a city or town kept as public property for ornament and recreation; or a piece of open land for recreational use in an urban area" [syn: commons, common, green].

A "square" is defined as an open place or area formed at the meeting of two or more streets, or a block, which is a usually rectangular space (as in a city) enclosed by streets and occupied by or intended for buildings.

A "plaza" is a public square in a city or town, an open area usually located near urban buildings and often featuring walkways, trees and shrubs, places to sit, and sometimes shops.

By these definitions, the public urban space in Midtown now under development is a "park" that is also a "plaza." It may be considered a square, but the Village Green in Old Farm (the former "Hidden Garden") fits the definition of "square" more precisely. All these spaces are (or will be) public parks.

The crux of this discussion is an attempt to draw distinctions between words that are synonymous or nearly synonymous. There is only the slightest difference in nuance between a space that might be described as a "plaza" as compared to a "square." These are truly distinctions without a meaningful difference.

The fact is that the public space being constructed by the developer to be turned over to the City for use as a public park will be a public park whatever Andres, the City, or the Kentlands public cares to call it. It is an open recreational space with lawns, a shelter, public art, and street furniture that will be maintained and managed by the City of Gaithersburg Department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture for the public. I think the name for this space should reflect the reality of the design and purpose of the space.

Again, the name the little group came up with, "Midtown Park," seems pretty descriptive to me. But if anybody wants to suggest something else, they should feel free to do so.

-- Dick Arkin (, June 07, 2000.

Mr. Duany's explanations of the terms "square," "plaza" and "park," as used to describe specific types of open public spaces, make more sense to me than yours do, Dick.

Again, does anyone have any ideas other than Midtown Square and Pavilion Square for a name for the public space being constructed at Midtown and Hart Roads? Maybe, we need a "top ten" list at this point.

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, June 07, 2000.

Again, one of the points I was trying to make is that the definitions enunciated by Andres for "park," "plaza," and "square" sound good, but are not universally shared. You may be a 100-percenter, but that's not true for all of us. Indeed, many Andres's theories are not universally accepted, even within the neotraditional/new urbanism/smart growth planning community.

While resident input if useful, we should all be mindful of the fact that our neighborhood will not decide the name of this City facility. It is the City that will name this City park (whether it is a "square," a "plaza," a "common," a "green," or just a "park").

I know the City would welcome suggestions from the public for a name that would appropriately descriptive. Perhaps something reflecting the unique heritage of the neighborhood would be good. Those wishing to make suggestions should send them to Michele McGleish, the Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture (the department that will administer the property), c/o City Hall, 30 South Summit Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.

-- Dick Arkin (, June 08, 2000.

Dick, I am not quite a "100-percenter." I disagree 88.83%, plus or minus 4.56%, with what you say in your June 7 postings. (I polled myself 27 times.)

Thanks for providing the useful information on whom to contact with suggestions for a name for the square/plaza/park/beach(?) being constructed at Midtown and Hart Roads. However, when you say that "Those wishing to make suggestions should sent them to Michele McGleish . . ." do mean to say that people should not post their suggestions here? If so, why not? Sharing ideas with others always seems to stimulate more and better ideas.

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, June 08, 2000.

Mary, please do not put words in my mouth.

I meant to say what I said. I think it was pretty clear, simple, and easy to understand. I said that the appropriate person to whom to send suggestions for a name for the public park in Midtown is the person in charge of that facility, Michele McGleish, who is the City's Director of Parks, Recreation, and Culture.

I did not say, imply, or suggest in any way that people should not share their thoughts with anyone they want employing any medium they choose. That's what the First Amendment is all about.

It would be absurd for me to respond to your question asking for an explanation for something I did not say.

-- Dick Arkin (, June 08, 2000.

I will reiterate, for the purpose of discussion and interchange of ideas: Does anyone have any suggestions for naming the open, public space being constructed at Midtown and Hart Roads?

-- Mary N. Macdonald (, June 08, 2000.

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