Symphony Woods is a 36-acre park owned by Columbia Association (CA). It is located in Columbia’s downtown on Little Patuxent Parkway south of the Mall in Columbia. The park encircles Merriweather Post Pavilion, the region’s premier outdoor concert venue. Presently, Symphony Woods is well used during several annual festival events, but is little used on most days.
The Downtown Columbia Plan, adopted in February 2010, calls for the Symphony Woods and Merriweather Post Pavilion to become a cultural park supporting arts and civic uses for people of all ages.In July 2012, the Howard County Planning Board approved CA’s Final Development Plan documents for the Merriweather-Symphony Woods Neighborhood, which would allow CA to begin the Site Development Plan process. The Planning Board’s decision included several conditions for approval. The CA Board opted in August 2012 to pause Symphony Woods Park development efforts in consideration of the Planning Board’s conditions and recommendations. During Summer 2012 a a group of interested community members developed a new concept for the park called the Inner Arbor Plan. The Inner Arbor Plan was discussed at a CA Board meeting on Oct. 11, 2012, and presented before the board again on Jan. 24, 2013. An additional public information session was held on Jan. 31, 2013. On Feb. 14, 2013 CA’s Board of Directors approved the Inner Arbor Plan for the transformation of Symphony Woods into the cultural park envisioned in the Downtown Plan.
The Inner Arbor Plan, includes the addition of several exciting new features and improved connections between Symphony Woods and Merriweather. The Inner Arbor Trust, an independent not-for profit corporation, was formed to implement the Inner Arbor Plan and to manage the park. The Trust is governed by a Board of Directors that includes two CA Board members and CA’s president among its seven voting members.
The Trust began the process of developing the concept plan into construction documents. It held a community pre-submission meeting on December 2, 2013 to allow public comment on the first phase of park improvements and submitted site development plans to Howard County for the first phase in spring 2014. It has hosted other presentations and discussions with community members to get comments on the plans as they evolved. In July 2014, the CA Board was presented with updated plans for phase 1 and voted to endorse them.
Subsequent phases of park development will also include additional opportunities for public input.
For more information, please visit the Inner Arbor Trust website at InArTrust.org