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The county recently began the process to create a master plan for a 209-acre property in Dunkirk to turn it into a new park.

The property on Ward Road, purchased by the county in 2013 for $2.7 million, is intended to help with the shortage of athletic fields in the northern end of the county.

During a public meeting June 12 at the Northeast Community Center in Chesapeake Beach, representatives from the Calvert County Division of Parks and Recreation answered questions and listened to requests from residents on what should be done with the available space.

More than 50 percent of the acreage is not suitable for athletic fields, with woodlands or wetlands making up a majority of the property. The county will consider ways to use the forested area for things such as trails and nature-based educational activities.

The property also contains ponds, streams, a farmhouse and other farm buildings, said Charlie Bailey, principal planner for Mahan Rykiel, the planning company working with the county on the project.

The parks and recreation division hopes the Calvert County Planning Commission will be able to approve a master plan sometime this fall, said Doug Meadows, division chief, at the June 12 meeting, and the project was presented to the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday.

The purpose of the June 12 meeting was to gain input from the public before proposing plans and budgets for the property, Meadows said. The park will be funded through a portion of Chesapeake Beach gaming revenue, he said.

About 75 people attended the meeting and requested items such as tennis courts, a disc golf course, wrestling facilities and bicycle trails be included in the park’s master plan. The county is also accepting name suggestions for the park.

Meadows said the county intends to have playgrounds and a dog park at the new park but not large ones designed to be destinations in themselves; rather, they will be for the use of those already attending athletic events, and efforts will be taken to ensure the new park is distinct from the Dunkirk District Park.

Concerns were expressed both at the public meeting and at Tuesday’s county commissioners’ meeting that the new park on Ward Road would resemble the existing Dunkirk park too much.

“Our intent is not to duplicate Dunkirk park,” Meadows said.

Meadows said at Tuesday’s meeting that in emails and through survey results, the desire for more trails was mentioned 85 times.

“Overwhelmingly, it’s the trails,” he said.

Several commissioners mentioned how the land has great space for an ampitheater.

“There is a perfect place for a natural ampitheater,” Commissioner Susan Shaw (R) said.

Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) said the forested part of the property would be great for local scouting groups to use for activities.

As the project progresses, there will be opportunities for the public to comment on the master plan before it is adopted, Meadows said.

However, not all requested items can be included because of space constraints. About 74 acres of the available 209 are able to be used as space for athletic fields, Bailey said.

“We’re looking to come up with a responsible plan that meets as many needs as we can,” Bailey said.

sfleischman@somdnews.com