Park renovations will include a rain garden, fresh landscaping, up-to-date playground equipment, an inviting brick walkway in sync with City Dock, two sitting walls, new rust-resistant fencing for the basketball court, new park benches and new drinking fountains.
The first phase of remodeling — a new playground compliant with National Playground Safety standards — was completed last fall. The new playground structures, beige with dark green accents, were designed for specific age groups of children. Children ages three to five will enjoy the smaller structure, only five steps off the ground with short slides and a small tube for climbing through. Older kids — ages six to 12 — will seek out the taller and more challenging structure to scale a short faux-rock wall or walk up the handicap-accessible ramp, slip down a number of curvy slides or swing from loop-like monkey bars. Children are already playing on Newman Park’s new playground.
The second phase, the park’s front — facing the Fleet Reserve Club and Fawcett Boat Supply — will be completed this fall. After hiring a contractor, Annapolis Recreation and Parks anticipates a brand- new park within 60 to 90 days.
The rain garden’s design, created by Rotary member Alice Neily Mutch of BaySmart Gardening, calls for 53 species of native plants, including five types of ferns, an array of flowers, bushes such as bayberry and spicebush and spring bulbs like narcissus and Jack in the pulpit.
To interest kids, Mutch says, she “included plants with interesting names such as ‘bee balm’ and ‘lizard’s tail.’” The planned garden also combines plants that require full sun, partial shade and full shade as well as plants that require very wet soil, moist-to-wet soil and well-drained soil. Homeowners will find at this park native plants that will grow in their own yards regardless of their shade and moisture.
“I made an effort to choose attractive native plants that homeowners can use in their own yards,” said Mutch, who hopes that the foliage will serve as a model for other rain gardens in the county.
Not only will Annapolis Rotary’s new garden enhance aesthetics, the plants will serve as a bioretention area, absorbing rainwater runoff from roads and nearby parking lots.
As water streams off paved surfaces, it heads for the Bay. The rain garden’s water-loving plants will soak up much of this water before a drainage system takes care of the excess water. In this way rain gardens help minimize runoff, and its pollution, into waterways.
Installing this rain garden by hand is Annapolis Rotary, one of 16,000 Rotary clubs nationwide undertaking a centennial project in honor of Rotary International’s 100th anniversary. For this big anniversary, Rotary International asked each club to initiate a project that would be a visible and permanent manifestation of Rotary in the community. Hence the Newman Park garden and park renovation.
“More than something just to fund,” said Ron Baradel, Annapolis Rotary’s new president as of July 1, “we wanted hands-on participation by our members.”
Last fall, the group set out to discover what projects would benefit area organizations as well as meet Rotary’s goals for the centennial project.
The 160-member Annapolis group opted to reinvent Newman Street Park because it “seemed to have the widest appeal,” said Baradel. “Its central location will benefit tourists and natives alike.”
In addition to financially supporting the park with $50,000 for materials and by supplying workers to plant the garden, Annapolis Rotary will maintain the park’s garden every three months — weeding, pruning or tackling whatever the season demands.
A price tag of $270,000 means that the park’s funding will be a patchwork of contributions. With the city of Annapolis and Maryland State Program Open Space each covering $100,000, Annapolis Rotary itself will give $50,000. A $5,000 contribution from Annapolis Elementary’s Parent Teacher Association and a $15,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation make up the remainder.