It acts as a buffer between the shops of downtown Bethesda and the neighborhood of Edgemoor, a popular children’s playground and a shady spot in which to sit, but county planners think the Caroline Freeland Park could do even more.
About 25 people came to the Bethesda Library on Nov. 6 to hear about the proposed renovation of the 1-acre park. Built in 1983, the small park, which is named after the first chairwoman of the county’s planning board, is at the intersection of Arlington Road and Elm Street.
The site is too small to incorporate some of the conventional design elements found in Montgomery County parks, said Lucas Bonney, project manager for the county’s parks department, which is part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
Some of the elements that were considered and dismissed are a wooded area, a skate park, a dog park, and courts and playing fields for volleyball, tennis or basketball.
Bonney pointed out that there are six parks that offer playing fields and courts within 1 mile of the park.
What was feasible was strengthening connections with nearby amenities, such as creating a more direct path to the nearby library, said Steven Sattler of the landscape architecture firm Parker Rodriguez.
And while much of the park would have to be redone, Sattler said, designers wanted to keep what was working — including many of its mature trees that provide shade.
“We want to get a sense of the absolute things that need to be kept in the park,” Sattler said, which would mean closely examining the 50-plus trees on the lot. “Is it worth keeping this tree if it’s only going to last another five years?”
The park is small, but has a lot of green space, he said. That’s something that should be protected. One-third of the surface, not including the play area, is pervious.
And the planners and designers wanted to hear from the public as well, asking what residents liked and disliked about the park.
Some of the features people praised were the playground, the mature trees that provided shade and being a green oasis in a rapidly urbanizing environment.
Criticisms of the park included the noise from nearby Arlington Road, a sense of disjointedness in the park and problems with homeless people.
After all comments have been compiled, designers will take them into account and come up with a few plans to be presented to the public in March, according to county documents.