ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball was joined today by state and local officials to announce a historic $25.7 million investment in state and county funding for parks improvements in Fiscal Year 2023. This brings the total investment in Howard County parks to $56.7 million since 2018, a 50 percent increase over the previous four-year period.
The funding supports several projects around the County, including additional pickleball courts, basketball courts, the largest skatepark in Howard County, a renovated equestrian ring, new bridges for hiking trails, and more. Of the total $25.7 million, $14 million is county funding and $11.7 million will be provided by the State. Photos of the event can be found here.
This funding will be used to improve and maintain our parks throughout Howard County, from our eight regional parks to our 29 neighborhood parks and will create everything from new fields and lighting to bridges and stairways that help us access beloved trails. Our residents will see improvements and renovations in every corner of the county, and our quality of life will grow. We are truly making historic investments today - for a better tomorrow.
County funding will allow for the following projects to be completed:
- Blandair Regional Park in Columbia: Construction on Phase 6, which includes the largest skatepark in Howard County, two new basketball courts, and six pickleball courts.
- Schooley Mill Park in Highland: Renovation of the equestrian ring, including fencing and drainage to support the largest horse population per capita in the nation - $250,000
- Savage Mill
- Design and construction of river-crossing bridge to connect to trails - $2 million
- Savage Mill trail loop stone stairs - $150,000
- Savage Mill trail culvert and picnic area improvements - $230,000
- Western Regional Park in Woodbine: Addition of eight pickleball courts - $250,000
- Atholton Park in Columbia: New parking and road resurfacing - $200,000
- Cypressmede Park in Ellicott City: Parking lot and road resurfacing, new stairs to field - $200,000
- Troy Park in Elkridge: New restrooms and bleachers - $150,000
- Shipley Park in Ellicott City: Master planning for new park - $267,000
- Huntington Park in Columbia: Additional pathways, outdoor basketball, backstop, and water fountain.
The county budget also includes funding for the rehabilitation of historic structures, including renovation of the Chapel at the Patapsco Female Institute, the renovation of Barnard Fort House, fencing for Belmont Manor & Historic Park exterior, new walkway lighting for the Ellicott City Colored School, and the renovation of Blandair North Granary.
County Executive Ball’s budget also includes $6 million to purchase Camp Ilchester from the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, preserving 21 acres of open space to be utilized for recreation.
State funding will support:
- The replacement of playgrounds at Centennial, Waterloo, and Rockburn Parks;
- Improvements at Blandair and West Friendship Parks;
- Renovation of the Barnard Fort House;
- Construction of bridges to connect the Savage Mill and Wincopin Trails; and
- the North Laurel Community Center Pool.
“The State Delegation’s dedication to creating and maintaining some of the best parks in the state has helped Howard County become a regional hub for recreation and sports,” said Senator Guy Guzzone. “Working with my colleagues to secure $11.75M in state funding will not only improve and preserve our open spaces, it will expand the quality of life for residents across the entire county.”
“Our parks and outdoor spaces are so important to our residents and our community, which was especially apparent during the height of the pandemic,” said Senator Clarence Lam. “Our state delegation has done an incredible job of ensuring critical state dollars are allocated to enhance and expand the amazing parks here in Howard County. This legislative session we also passed the Great Maryland Outdoors Act to help improve the quality of all of our Maryland State Parks.”
“Blandair Park was originally a vision back in 1998, and at the time it was hard to imagine that we would reach where we are today,” said Delegate Courtney Watson. “And ten years from today we will have even more to celebrate as we continue to expand this park for all of our community to enjoy.”
“I am thrilled to support a comprehensive and fiscally responsible budget that includes record funding for Howard County Recreation and Parks,” said Howard Council Chair Opel Jones. “The FY23 budget will support eight regional parks and 29 neighborhood parks. This is amazing, as it provides valuable and necessary green space for all.”
We are truly grateful for the County’s and State’s financial support for our Fiscal Year 2023 budget. This funding will allow us to acquire land, design and construct additional phases of existing park projects and address the maintenance and renovation of aging infrastructure. We strive to expand and enhance our park system and programs to meet the leisure, learning, and wellness needs of all those who live, work, and play in Howard County.
“What is now Blandair Park used to be a farm of over 300 acres,” said Oakland Mills Village Board member Ginny Thomas. “What we’ve done here is one of the most creative, innovative parks and a jewel of Oakland Mills and Columbia.”
“I appreciate all the people who have helped bring these funds to Howard County that will not only be used to build new things, like the bridge between the Savage Mill and Wincopin trails, but will also go towards maintain existing trails,” said Savage Community Association president Susan Garber.