Friday, July 25, 2008

"the turf" (2005-2008)

Kids play football on "the Turf" in May 2007. Today, Montgomery County's throwing a "farewell party" for the plastic green, which will be replaced by a paved plaza and ice rink.

It was just shy of three years ago that "the Turf," Silver Spring's favorite fake-grass hangout, was rolled out at the corner of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street. Today, Downtown's surprise urban wonderland comes to an end with a bang, as Montgomery County throws it a going-away party featuring food and a live deejay. There'll also be an unveiling of an "Under Construction" sign for the Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza, a paved square that will also include an ice rink during the colder months.

The subject of many jokes about Downtown's "fake" character, "the Turf" was either widely loved and deeply reviled by East County residents. Last May's "Turf Town Meeting," organized by the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board, spurred a lot of debate over whether the County should follow through with their existing plans for Veterans Plaza. Around the same time, the Silver Spring Youth Collective produced a video, "Finding Out Turf," including interviews from local teens about how much they enjoyed hanging out in the space.

But even marketing director Susan Hoffmann, who coordinated the Silver Spring Jazz Festival in the space four years in a row, had few nice things to say about the plastic green. "'The Turf' is filthy, it's disgusting," she told Just Up The Pike last summer. "It's a petri dish. People let their dogs pee on it."

As "the Turf" becomes a construction site for the next few years, it'll be interesting to see how the people who visited it and Downtown Silver Spring as a whole will adapt. Some may find alternate places to hang out, while others may stop coming altogether. Aside from Silver Plaza, the much smaller park on Ellsworth Drive, there's no comparable space in Downtown in terms of nearby amenities, though Park and Planning's "CBD Green Space Plan" may provide for new ones in the future.

The new Veterans Plaza will undoubtedly be a boon to Downtown, but there's no telling if it'll ever beat "the Turf" as - I've quoted this ad nauseam for the past two years, because it's just that true - "the venue for some of the best people-watching in the region, attracting a crowd with a better spread of ages and backgrounds than Dupont Circle, the Georgetown waterfront, Old Town Alexandria and Reston Town Center," according to Marc Fisher from the Post.

For more information on the County's "Sign of the Times" party, commemorating the end of "the Turf," check out Silver Spring, Singular or the MoCo website.


Davemurphy said...

Do you know more about the Veteran's Plaza? is there going to be a memorial? The link you posted was dead, and considering that I'm a MoCo war vet, I'd like to know more about it.

Still, I'm sorry to see the turf go. It may have been fake, and a petri dish, but I challenge anyone to find a unique little venue like that anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

People now have access to a section of grass on Bonifant street where a mid-rise apartment building used to be. The building was demolished a few months ago to make way for the new library.

Maybe this grass will become the new turf.

Anonymous said...

The Veterans Plaza will have a memorial art work by sculptor Toby Mendez who did the Thurgood Marshall Memorial in front of the State Capital.
The County website is not dead, try:

Anonymous said...

rickyr1983 said...

Why oh why are we replacing the turf with a stupid ice rink? Our climate is only getting warmer in this area, what's the point?