Overseen by City of Frederick Transportation Planner Tim Davis, the tunnel connector and allied pathways between Baker Park and Waterford Park have been structurally completed, linking the western portion of the shared use path that once stopped in Waterford Park with the eastern portion that ended in Baker Park at Route 15. Completed tasks include:
- Installation of the tunnel under the Route 15 on/off ramp;
- Paving of the asphalt and pervious pavement on the pathways between Route 15 and the tunnel and between the tunnel and the existing pathway in Waterford Park;
- Installation of a bridge over Carrol Creek;
- Insulation of all electrical conduits and tunnel lighting;
- Upgrading of the sidewalk on Rosemont.
Next up, with completion slated to occur by late August, are:
- Lighting along the path;
- Final grading and site repair;
- Fence and railing installation;
- The addition of a guardrail on the on/off ramp;
- Installation of pet waste stations in the area;
- Tree planting;
- Tunnel touchup.
A ribbon cutting is planned once the site work is completed; a tentative opening of August 29 has been announced.
Planner Tim Davis noted, “ this is the single most important link for bicyclist and pedestrians in the City, bringing safety and access for all to entire west and east sides of the City”
Friends of Baker Park President, Peter Brehm, reported that the Friends of Baker Park are enthusiastic about this transportation enhancement. “This bike/pedestrian link between the west and east sides of Frederick will connect neighbors and neighborhoods as well as foster people getting to and taking advantage of Waterford Park, Baker Park, and the Carroll Creek Linear Park,” he stated, adding “Friends of Baker Park is working closely with Tim and City to complete upgrades to the shared use path between Fairview Avenue and West College Terrace in order to optimize biker and walker experience along the complete length of this path.”
By all accounts it was a very big deal. The date was January 7, 1940, and a shivering crowd of 2,000 citizens gathered along West College Terrace to dedicate the newly completed Culler Lake. The Maryland National Guard Band performed the national anthem in the freezing weather as steam wafted from the mouths of the assembled crowd singing along. Even the bitter cold couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm. Following a speech by Governor Herbert R. O’Conner, 3-year old Charles Culler Rhodes, the grandson of the 7-term Mayor of Frederick, unveiled the bronze plaque. It recognized Culler’s “fifteen years of distinguished and constructive public service.” The highlight of the afternoon was an exhibition by championship skaters Robin Scott and Arlene Smith from Washington, D. C. who performed on the frozen lake. An intriguing photograph of the ceremony shows young Charles Rhodes standing on the bench next to the bronze plaque. In the background is a tall Christmas tree with 2 figures posed beside it. Could they be the professional skaters that performed at the event?
Farther still in the background is Frederick High School under construction. Seventy-six years later in 2016, the scene looks much the same. Construction on a new Frederick High is underway. It seems that FHS and its neighbor are inextricably linked.
Work on Culler Lake began in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration, a depression-era program to put unemployed young men to work on public projects. Steam shovels modified the course of Carroll Creek and the WPA men expanded several small spring-fed goldfish ponds into a 3 ½ acre lake we see today. The new water way not only provided recreational opportunities, it also served as a storm water impoundment pond for the expanding residential neighborhood and portions of the Hood College campus.
Many lasting memories center around Culler Lake. Boating and fishing filled the summer months and the town eagerly watched the thermometer in the winter to see if conditions were right for freezing. Once the ice was thick enough, skaters of all ages enjoyed gliding on the ice and whirling around the fountain in the center of the lake. The newspaper even reported a growing concern about overly enthusiastic play of “crack-the-whip” on the ice that resulted in too many injuries.
Over the years the lake has accumulated a thick layer of silt on the bottom from storm water runoff and decades of accumulated duck poo and other natural materials. Street salt and grit along with agricultural runoff from Carroll Creek has added excess phosphorus. This combination of increased sediments as well as warmer temperatures make it less common for the lake to freeze.
In 2011, with the help of the DeOcampo Design Collaborative, the Friends of Baker Park initiated the Culler Lake Renaissance. A series of “listening” sessions were held to solicit community feedback about the future of this cherished landmark. The goal was to transform the depression era pond into a more pleasing modern and sustainable haven by improving water quality and enhancing the overall aesthetic character of the park.
With a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Friends were able to obtain the services of Frederick Seibert Associates to refine the concept and develop an overall master plan. After study and input from the community, City staff and elected officials, a two-phased plan was developed.
Phase One, a $2.2 million project funded primarily by the City and grants from the State of Maryland, is now in progress. Substantial and generous donations by Dr. George and Carolyn Smith, Larry Marsh, and other individuals are targeted for reconstructing the iconic fountain. These upgrades will improve storm water management and enhance water quality. The deteriorating fountain will be demolished and a new fountain with dramatic lighting and a more robust spray designed by Clearwater Landscape and Nursery, will be reconstructed in the identical “wedding cake” design. The removed material from the old fountain will be used to create fish habitat. A population of catfish, sunfish, and largemouth bass, all native species, will be introduced into the lake.
Water quality will be enhanced by biological and mechanical systems that remove nutrients and sediments. Three vegetated wetlands will be created to foster the growth of microorganisms and aquatic plants to absorb excess phosphorous and nitrogen. It is expected that water flowing out of the improved Culler Lake will be significantly cleaner. In our small way, the project will help improve the downstream environment with cleaner water flowing from our watershed into the Chesapeake Bay.
A new shared-use path including 2 pedestrian bridges over the wetlands will be erected along the lake’s south shore. Other improvements include a new retaining wall along the east shore. In addition, the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek will construct a pavilion on the west shore.
Plans for a second phase are being finalized that will create additional pathways, a lakeside promenade, interpretive signage, and a new entrance plaza along West College Terrace. The Culler Memorial bench will be refurbished and its missing water fountain and sundial will be constructed.
After more than three-quarter of a century, the lake’s original design will get a well- deserved facelift. The hard surfaces of the rigid rectangle will be softened by aquatic plants and the overall effect will be more naturalistic and inviting.
On the occasion of his 90th birthday in May of 1959, Lloyd Culler remarked about the need to protect the local watershed. His concern for protecting the environment is even more urgent today. The Culler Lake Renaissance expands and modernizes the actions of a previous generation. It’s a testament of this community’s continuing conservation heritage and the desire to pass this legacy to another generation. Like the excitement evident at the dedication in 1940, this 21st century revitalization of Culler Lake is another big deal.
By Jaasmin Foote, Hood College Student Article Written for Feature Writing Class with Katherine Orloff
The last thing you’d envision when thinking about your neighborhood park is a wild goose chase.
Imagine a grandmother and her two granddaughters performing the traditional ceremony of bird feeding at a murky pond when one of the geese begins his attack. The bird’s loud squawking and wing-beating fury draws the attention of nearby runners, dog walkers, children at the playground, and the group of high school seniors taking prom pictures.
There are no dull moments at the 58-acre linear park, located in Frederick, Maryland. It runs through the heart of downtown Frederick, and entertains many guests including photographers, families, college students, skateboarders and roller skaters, walkers and their four-legged companions, runners, readers, couples, tanners, and all those in between.
With the help of a donation of $13,825 from Joseph Dill Baker to The City of Frederick, the park was established in 1926. It is named after Baker, and features the Joseph D. Baker Bell Tower and Carillon in honor of his memory, both built in November of 1941.
The Bell Tower, designed by John B. Hamme of York, Pennsylvania, is 70 feet high, 16 feet square at its base, and is built of Baltimore County granite. The Carillon is often referred to by the residents as “the Jewel in the Crown of Baker Park” and has 58 bells. Each bell bears the inscription, “The Joseph Dill Baker Memorial.” The largest reads, “This tower and carillon have been erected by his friends in loving memory of Joseph Dill Baker 1854 –1938, whose life was benediction to this community, 1941.”
These are not the only monuments built in the memory of influential people of Frederick at this site. Culler Memorial Fountain sits proudly at the main entry of the park. Installed in 1928, the fountain was made as a shrine to Mayor Lloyd Culler’s daughter, who died in 1923.
Attractions include playgrounds, walking paths, ball parks, tennis courts, Frisbee and soccer fields, a concert pavilion, and a lake. It is a pivotal location in Frederick. Seasonal events are hosted there including the city’s 4th of July celebration with fireworks and free summer Sunday concerts in the band shell. The spot is home to one the city’s two swimming pools; it is also source for numerous family reunions, weddings, picnics, and community and charitable events.
In 1991, Victoria Seward founded Friends of Baker Park, a group of about 200 people who are dedicated to getting the community involved in maintaining, preserving, restoring, and using the communal facility.
“Public parks are critical to the community because they offer green space and access to nature that otherwise wouldn’t be available,” said Peter Brehm, President of Friends of Baker Park. “Valuable friend groups like us help organize citizens’ efforts to offer support, maintenance, and advancement in the community.”
The organization collaborates with other local associations such as The Center of Coastal Watershed Studies at Hood College. This establishment is comprised of Hood faculty, students, and volunteers.
“The students do most of the work,” said Drew Ferrier, Professor of Biology and Director of Hood’s Coastal Studies Program. “Our mission is to work with community and citizen groups. We help them collect and interpret data and we also analyze data that they have already collected. Baker Park is a touchstone for Frederick City. It’s certainly a place of aesthetic beauty and relaxation, but it’s also a venue for entertainment.”
Finding yourself trapped inside of a dinosaur’s ribcage is just one of the bonuses of visiting the park. The Flemming Street Playground showcases Mr. Ed the Dinosaur, an imitation T-Rex skeleton. Taking pictures with this sack of bones is one of the main attractions that call kids from one to 92.
If you missed the Green Neighbor Forum, you don’t have to miss out on all the great information that was shared. Download the Preserving the Complete Urban Tree Canopy Presentation (pdf) and others from our Blog.
If you missed the Green Neighbor Forum, you don’t have to miss out on all the great information that was shared. Download the Canopies and Stream Health Presentation and others from our Blog.
If you missed the Green Neighbor Forum, you don’t have to miss out on all the great information that was shared. Download the Complete Green Home Challenge Presentation (pdf) and others from our Blog.
The City of Frederick, through a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust is aiming to improve pet waste disposal in downtown Frederick. Take this simple survey to help the city identify locations for future pet waste disposal stations.
Looking for quality compost at a great cost. Learn more by downloading the Frederick County Compost Brochure here.
In preparation for a tour of these living legacies planned for next spring, City Sustainability Manager Jenny Willoughby, is seeking nominations for trees in the City of Frederick that might be included on a walking tour of “witness trees” – old specimen trees that have lived through the span of history. A wonderful example is the magnificent Dutch Elm in the center of Memorial Park by the Talley Center.
Candidate trees can be in parks, along streets, on public grounds like schools, and even on private property (though unless the tree on private property can be seen from a street or alley it may not make it on the final list). Regardless of its location in the City of Frederick, if you have a tree to nominate, please email its location and a description (and preferably the type of tree it is, though this is not required) to Jenny at email@example.com.
Please share this with friends, neighbors, and other interested community groups / clubs / members!
Frederick City residents are invited to participate in tree identification and inventory training sessions, the first stage of a larger urban tree canopy inventory for the City. Those residents who are trained in identification will be asked to assist neighbors in spring 2015 to inventory trees on private property. Trained volunteers will collect data about tree species and size in an effort to better understand the City’s tree diversity and help homeowners understand the intangible value of trees in their own yard and neighbors’ yards. Ultimately, homeowners will have the opportunity to learn the trees growing in their own yards and the value of those trees for air quality, water quality, and energy savings. In addition, the City will gain more detailed information about tree species diversity and how to better prioritize outreach and tree planting efforts.
Though the inventory will begin in spring 2015, the tree identification training will begin September 17. Neighborhood Advisory Council areas 6 and 9 will be inventoried during the first stage as a pilot and the fall training courses will take place in those neighborhoods to learn specific trees common to the area. No experience is needed to be part of the project and it is free to all residents. The five-week course runs on Wednesdays beginning September 17, 6-8 p.m. The first session will be at the Hood College campus. Residents can register via email to Jenny Willoughby firstname.lastname@example.org.