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Laurel asks community to dig in on landscaping project

For at least a decade, Laurel residents living near Laurel Lakes’ upper lake have complained about overgrown vegetation blocking the water view. Now, the city is asking community members who snubbed the shrubbery to pool their creative ideas for a new landscaping project that will restore the lake’s appearance.

In July, the city will partner with the Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources to dredge the west forebay of Laurel Lakes and remove silt and buildup.

So, it seemed like an ideal time to give the landscaping a makeover, said Mike Lhotsky, director of the Laurel Department of Parks and Recreation.

“We’re looking for something that would be a little more manageable, as far as how tall and how the plant would spread,” Lhotsky said.

Other factors the department will consider are erosion and weather-related issues.

The city began taking requests Dec. 23. Lhotsky said he is hopeful for a large response.

“I think we’ll get a fair amount of input for this — just from the amount of people who live around the lake,” he said. “There are a lot of people who walk the lake.”

It is fairly common for the city to consider community input when taking on projects, such as when it held a public meeting to discuss a new dog park on Van Dusen Road, Lhotsky said.

The county’s Department of Environmental Resources will oversee dredging of the lake, Lhotsky said.

Lester Louis, 54, who has lived near the lake for more than 20 years, said he would like the tall trees currently surrounding the water replaced with short bushes.

“All those trees are basically blocking the lake,” he said. “It used to be real, real pretty. That was one of the things that attracted me to move here.”

Tanya Hill, 47, Louis’ neighbor, moved to the area in 1990. She said she hasn’t been able to see the water from her house in years.

“I thought I was getting waterfront property, and that’s not what I got,” she said.

Hill said cherry trees planted near the lake would look good, but would not block the view.

The Parks and Recreation department has not set a deadline for when landscaping ideas must be submitted, but will discuss any input with officials and project managers, Lhotsky said.

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