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Kemp Mill Park

landscape architecture, parks
Silver Spring, MD

WRT was commissioned by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission to rehabilitate Kemp Mill Park, a 2.5 acre community destination within the Montgomery County Park System. Originally built in 1967, the park was widely praised as a deft blend of Eastern and Western design sensibilities. Recently, this beloved neighborhood amenity had fallen into disrepair. The main focal point of the space was a concrete lined pond which had become a degraded eyesore due to the combined effects of untreated urban stormwater runoff and an overpopulation of Canadian geese. Play equipment had become tired and uninspiring, and the park planting was in need of an overhaul.

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WRT undertook an extensive community-driven process, resulting in a design that expanded the undersized existing play zone and introduced new concepts of play that emphasize integrated play circuits. Large pieces of equipment are connected into age-appropriate areas, with a range of activities for children from toddlers to teenagers. The signature element of the playground is a tall climbing tower, which provides a safe but challenging element linked to a series of approaches and a long slide.

In addition to play areas, a series of small retention basins were designed to replace the concrete lined pond and function as a single biological system with minimal amount of mechanical filtering. The revised pond banks increase the amount of shoreline in the park thereby maximizing aquatic edge habitat for indigenous wildlife and niche species, including endangered butterflies. The three ponds are by fed by a recirculation system, and three weirs create points of interest and small cascades. The redesigned ponds also now address stormwater management through filtration and the ability to capture and manage significant storm flows. Additional micro bio-detention areas are also found within the park, acting as collection points for areas not draining towards the ponds. In the event of large storms, the ponds and detention areas capture and slowly release stormwater, while the park and play areas remain open for parkgoers.

Kemp Mill Park has been renewed as a neighborhood and regional destination, through a landscape that showcases the capabilities of integrated stormwater management features.

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