University officials are in the final planning stages of the long awaited North Gate Park: a combination pedestrian bridge and environmental restoration project – all on a 5 acre lot between the university’s North Gate and Jerry’s Sub on the Paint Branch Stream. The university is waiting for final approval from the Maryland Department of Environment and FEMA since the project is located within the 100-year floodplain. The final price tag is still unknown according to Richard Poley of Facilities Management, but the state could potentially contribute $830,000 once the final bids from contractors come in. The university would pay any price difference.
Although the new project is less ambitious than originally planned, with just one bridge and a ‘less elaborate’ entrance, Poley told us he felt that it still held true to the plan that emerged from an undergraduate landscape architecture design competition in 2004.
John Porcari, Vice President of Administrative Affairs, speculated to us earlier this month that the second bridge and other additions to the park may not be pursued until plans for a luxury hotel just north of the park are confirmed. Two condominium projects north of University View, including the approved North Gate Condos, along with the East Campus Development Initiative will inevitably make this now underused parcel a vital pedestrian link and public space for students and city residents alike. North Gate Park is a great example of how different levels of government combined with some student idealism can go a long way towards improving College Park.