What’s the Grand Ole Opry to Nashville? What’s the Arch to St. Louis? What’s a block of FDR Boulevard to Lexington Park? They’re the keys to their cities; they’re just the ticket; and they’re what we make of them.
Excuse the hyperbole, comparing gateways to the west and great music of the ages to a one-block of asphalt linking a retail district a bit down at its heels and a public library. But believe this: the proportional impact can be just as large.
The block of FDR Boulevard slated for construction this summer extends the road along the back of Millison Plaza across Great Mills Road (making a full intersection there) and connecting to the road between the Lexington Park library and Bay District Volunteer Fire Department. When all of the pieces are connected, FDR Boulevard will run from Shangri La Drive at the library to Route 235 at Ledo’s.
It has taken more than 50 years for this block of asphalt to move from a public transportation plan to the bulldozers and trucks parked there today. It is the most obvious and sensible segment of the crazy-quilt FDR Boulevard has become. This block will create a brand new space in an old town. This doesn’t happen very often.
A new building for Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad is slated for this new block, creating an informal campus of three top-drawer community service organizations: the rescue squad, fire department and library.
This new space in an old town expands positive, daytime and nighttime activity already drawing citizens of all ages and spheres, professional and recreational, from the immediate neighborhood and the region.
Let’s repeat. This doesn’t happen very often.
Bay District Volunteer Fire Department not only provides vital life and property services. BDVFD maintains a heavily used community center at FDR Boulevard and Shangri La Drive. It hosts its own festivals on behalf of the neighborhood and carries its mission of fire and household safety education into the community at large. The facility is used by organizations throughout the region for their own holiday festivals, community seminars, banquets and service projects – all of which bring people into Lexington Park.
The Lexington Park Library does a brilliant job providing virtually the only day-time activity resource for seniors, children, families, job searchers, the disabled and the disenfranchised. It houses the St. Mary’s County Literacy Council, provides meeting rooms and Internet access. The array of services are well beyond lending books and media, are offered free of charge and provided with unfailing courtesy.
Making access easier and more attractive to this service center opens opportunities for small shops along brand new road frontage, some making visible the backs of existing commercial buildings needing tenants. It makes possible the small shopping nooks other redeveloping cities and towns tuck into corners off their main roads.
Already adjunct alleys and parking lots to this future block of FDR Boulevard have staged a Lexington Park parade. The Lexington Park Business and Community Association will use the space again May 4, 2013 to organize this year’s annual parade. These are the seeds of urban festivals, already gaining participation at Freedom Park just around the corner.
There are very good traffic and retail reasons why this single block of asphalt is important to Lexington Park. There are safety and policing reasons as well. We cheer all agencies genuinely pushing to actually get this done by fall.
This is the stuff of genuine community renewal. Scouring a bit of the blight off, polishing up what you find that’s good. Purging what you can of the rest. This isn’t the tearing down part. This is the building up part.
A single block of asphalt could be the gateway to an enriched future for all of us in and around Lexington Park. It can open a venue for our own Grand Ole Opry and more. This is a brand new space, available for as much as our imaginations can conceive. This can be a key to unlock a new future, just the ticket to renew our town. This block could be absolutely everything we imagine it to be.
It’s entirely up to us.