ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and Department of Recreation & Parks Director A. Raul Delerme joined county, state and local representatives at a ribbon cutting to mark the completion of the third phase of Blandair Regional Park in Columbia, which includes a state-of-the-art, “play-for-all” playground. Photos from the event can be found here and video here.
Howard County is home to the best parks, and this new addition at Blandair is a testament to our commitment to ensure our public spaces meet the needs of our community. As we turn the corner of the pandemic, we look forward to welcoming families, neighbors, and friends to gather, play and enjoy this incredible space.
The fully fenced playground follows a universal design to encourage children of all ability levels to play together, while accommodating cognitive, communicative, social/emotional and sensory disabilities. It consists of six unique themed areas: a farm/barn area for zero to two year olds, a dinosaur area for two to five year olds, an outer space area and a second play area designated for five to 12 year olds, and a free notes musical area and a treehouse area designed for all ages. The playground also includes two non-verbal communication boards donated by the Howard County Autism Society and offers accessibility items compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Finally, the play space features sun shades, picnic tables and benches.
“This community project has been over a decade in the making,” said Senator Guy Guzzone. “I’m proud to have worked with the Delegation to secure more than $15 million in State funding over the last three phases. The investment in this entire complex, including this beautiful and inclusive playground, will enhance the well-being of residents from around the entire county and beyond.”
“This is tremendous, this is a beautiful facility and one that is accessible and inclusive, and that is symbolic of the kind of community we are in Howard County,” said Delegate Jessica Feldmark. “It a great honor to be a part of making this happen. Thank you again to the entire team that made this possible.”
In addition to the playground, Phase 3 also included the installation of synthetic bocce ball courts and croquet courts, two horseshoe pits, a picnic pavilion with inlaid checkerboards and ping-pong tables, restrooms, storage for sports equipment, a pedestrian pathway, 142 additional parking spaces, bio-retention areas and a Park Maintenance Center with offices.
"Blandair Park is nestled in the heart of District 2 and nicknamed ‘the playground for all,’ Blandair Park's Inclusive Playground will provide more than 80 percent of accessible playground equipment that can be used by children with disabilities,” said Dr. Opel Jones, Howard County Council Vice Chair. "As our communities reset from the devastating effects of COVID-19, the opening of Blandair Park will provide a renewed and refreshing outlet for students, residents, and our aging in place communities!"
“Today’s phase three ribbon cutting marks the culmination of many years of hard work, patience, and planning from our staff and partners,” said Recreation & Parks Director A. Raul Delerme. “The new features at Blandair Regional Park, including our fully accessible ‘play-for-all’ playground, are a model for how our public parks can and should meet the needs of every park patron.”
Located off MD 175, Blandair is quickly becoming one of Howard County's premier destinations for sporting events. The park is being constructed over seven phases, with Phase 1 opening in March 2012 and Phase 2 in March 2018. To date, the completed portions of the park feature: three lighted synthetic turf multipurpose fields with press boxes and bleachers; two synthetic turf baseball fields with shaded bleacher seating; a playground; two pavilions; two restrooms; parking lots; a challenge course; five tennis courts and pathways.
The next and final phase of construction in the southern portion of Blandair Regional Park, will include the installation of a skate park and basketball courts. An indoor recreation facility, nature center, mansion renovation, passive recreation areas, dog park and highway/road improvements are currently under consideration for future phases within the 300-acre park.
Most of the park’s design and construction costs were paid for through Maryland Program Open Space grants and State Bond Bill grants.
For more information on Blandair Regional Park, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/blandairpark.