A new South Silver Spring Park will be constructed at the site of the former National Tire and Battery Building at 1110 East-West Highway in Silver Spring, as another park project currently wraps up construction in Downtown Silver Spring—Gene Lynch Urban Park, located at 8410 Colesville Road.
According to Montgomery Parks officials, the South Silver Spring Park will include a promenade, picnic area, fitness area, stage, dog run, bocce court, multi-sports court, drinking fountain, age-specific playgrounds and nature play areas and games.
Darren Flusche, Division Chief for Park Planning and Stewardship at Montgomery Parks, said Parks officials had a vision for a more active park in a community where people don’t have backyards. The South Silver Spring Park would provide residents of the area with a much-needed public space.
“So that’s where we started thinking about sports courts and a dog run so people that don’t have yards can bring their dog down, a grassy lawn area for people to have a public lawn that they might not have in their own living space and ping pong tables [as] places to bring people together and interact with each other in a somewhat active way, but also a very social way,” Flusche said.
Park amenities were based on the recommendations of the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities plan as well as community feedback collected during an open house and online surveys.
The park will be in the South Silver Spring District, which includes residential, commercial and public spaces. Rail tracks in the area separate the district from the rest of downtown Spring Spring, which according to Montgomery Parks’ official website, will contribute to making the new park “a critical walk-to-public space for the community in this district.”
According to Parks officials, the onsite building is planned to be demolished this summer with the construction beginning late summer and expected to be completed by late Spring 2024.
“By our standards, that is extraordinarily fast. And that’s [rooted] in our desire to deliver this park quickly for the residents of Silver Spring,” Flusche said.
In contrast to the speed at which the South Silver Spring Park is expected to be constructed, planning on Gene Lynch Urban Park began about 20 years ago in the early 2000s, with construction set to be completed this year, according to Linda Komes, architect and project manager at the Manager Park Development Division at Montgomery Parks.
Komes attributed the delay to issues with the concrete, construction and the nearby transit center, with more recent delays due to the construction of the Purple Line in the area.
The Gene Lynch Park is named after Gene Lynch, a former civic activist and former Montgomery County planning board commissioner.
The park will be constructed in downtown Silver Spring right across from the Silver Spring Transit Center and “will provide a public space for citizens to enjoy urban open space in a Metro environment,” according to Montgomery County’s official website.
Jacob Newman, director of the Silver Spring Regional Service Center, the lead organization for maintenance and programming at Gene Lynch Urban Park, said he was excited to work with and partner with Montgomery Parks.
“Montgomery Parks has a really wonderful activation team manage over 420 parks throughout the entire county, and so, we will be working with them to ensure maintenance is kept up, and also that this really wonderful asset in one of the main thoroughfares of Silver Spring is a great opportunity,” Newman said.
According to Komes, planning for the park project began a long time ago, and it was always determined that the theme of the park was going to play off the entertainment area theme of downtown Silver Spring.
Playing on that arts and entertainment theme, a call was made last year to incorporate “a piece of evocative thought-stimulating public art,” in the park, Komes said.
According to Montgomery Parks officials, the park will have an open lawn panel for outdoor activities, terraced cast stone seat walls, a pergola structure with bench swings, other furnishings, landscape plants, irrigation facilities and lighting.
A 10-foot by 13-foot concrete wall with 10 concrete support columns is at the center of the pergola structure and is seen as the focal point of the park and intended to host a public art project.
Local artists have been encouraged by Parks officials to contribute to the project.
“We just issued the call for artists, and the first submission is due March 10,” Komes said.
Speaking about the need for green space in the Silver Spring area, Komes said, “There is a deficit of green area in downtown Silver Spring and this was an opportunity in the hub of this commercial area, across from one of the busiest metro stations….to provide a gathering spot, a green refuge in downtown Silver Spring.”
Flusche echoed these sentiments on the need for more green areas in Silver Spring.
“Parks were right up there with good schools and public safety as the top three amenities that people look for when choosing where to live in Montgomery County, and so we know that parks and open space are really valued and every community we go to, there’s always a demand for it,” Flusche said.
Komes said she is excited to see the construction fence come down on Gene Lynch Park and for people to enjoy the space and its amenities.
“That’s why we all do this work that we do, to see people loving the parks that we’re able to provide for them,” she said.