“The future is not a gift, it’s an achievement,” stated Governor Martin O’Malley speaking at the close of this year’s session of the Maryland General Assembly. (April 11, 2012, Baltimore Sun Video/Algerina Perna) That statement describes why we are implementing a master plan for Lexington Park. To achieve a community that is safe, vibrant, restored, and economically stable, the Park’s future growth cannot be as haphazardly planned as that of its past.
The Lexington Park Development District contains three communities – California, Great Mills and Lexington Park – each with somewhat different characters but little in the way to tell where one community begins and another ends. It’s quite common to hear mention of the “new part” or the “old part” as a way for people to describe where they are in Lexington Park because these communities are so intertwined.
The Development District is approximately 26-square miles and houses a third of the County’s residents. Since its birth in the 1940’s, Lexington Park has prided itself as the home to the County’s largest concentration of residents and jobs. Forecasted growth for the future anticipates increasing urbanization of this community as the population is expected to grow by 86.5% in the next 20 years!
As the name suggests, the “development” district is the area where growth is deliberately concentrated. St. Mary’s County’s adopted growth policy is designed to retain the rural character of the County by driving 70% of new growth into one of the two development districts – Lexington Park or Leonardtown. The remainder of the County, while zoned for less density, still creates opportunities for town and village centers to flourish in outlying communities.
The plan for the heart of Lexington Park will dramatically alter the strip commercial pattern that you see along Great Mills Road today and create a more defined and walkable downtown. To achieve this, the Lexington Park Library and the post office were constructed at their present sites because a gridded pattern of streets and sidewalks will be built in the downtown connecting these and many other facilities.
One of these roads, FDR Boulevard, will be under construction this year. You can see for yourself how the construction of FDR will improve circulation in the downtown if you drive to St. Mary’s Lighting (just a few blocks from Gate 2) and look through the swath of cut trees to see the library. The area of cut trees is where FDR will be built to connect Great Mills Road to South Shangri-La Drive. This road will not only improve access to the library but will also improve emergency egress for the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department and the soon-to-be-built Lexington Park Rescue Squad. In the distant future, FDR Boulevard will be built all the way through to Willows Road opening up the now isolated Colony Square neighborhood and connecting pedestrian and vehicular traffic to John G. Lancaster Park.
Another road is planned to connect Willows Road and MD Rt. 235 connecting the post office and library, creating a route for the thousands of residents who live on Willows Road to reach Gate 3 minimizing congestion at Willows and Great Mills Roads and, furthermore, creating an alternative route to Gate 2 coming from the south. One little road can achieve that much! Each of these roads will be lined with sidewalks, decorative lighting and landscaping creating inviting and pedestrian-friendly transportation routes throughout the downtown.
Today you are living in a future we achieved mostly by happenstance. A community that is dominated by sprawling commercial development lacking a sense of place where some areas struggle and others flourish. The Naval Air Station Patuxent River continues to fuel our growth but most will agree that we should manage our future growth with far greater degrees of design and finesse. To learn more about the master plan for Lexington Park visit http://www.co.saint-marys.md.us/lugm/LPDD.asp.