Less than 24 hours after a passionate crowd from one of Baltimore’s most vibrant neighborhoods met to condemn her Patterson Park parking proposal, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a statement acknowledging the opposition.
“Today, I’ve ordered the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Health Department to work with Councilman Kraft and community stakeholders to create a Patterson Park Master Plan Working Group,” said the statement Rawlings-Blake released to the media this afternoon and Tweeted as well.
This updating of the 1998 Master Plan for the park, she wrote, “will not proceed with any proposal without significant community input.”
Rawlings-Blake has had little to say publicly about her administration’s proposal to add 96 parking spaces and a loop road to Patterson Park, but residents have organized vigorously against it, saying the park needs less pavement and fewer cars. An online petition opposing the plan has gathered more than 5,000 signatures.
Until now, her most extensive public statements on the project have focused on criticizing Councilman James B. Kraft (who disclosed the project to the community) for “poisoning the well.”
“She Heard Us”
Residents called the mayor’s statement a positive sign and applauded the gesture.
“She definitely heard the community and heard the people and that’s great,” said Greg Walsh, who started the online petition campaign.
“How I read this is, the plans we saw with that road and those parking spaces – that all gets scrapped.” Walsh said, adding, “Of course, I could be naive here.”
He said, however, he feels “really bad for the senior citizens.” (The ill-fated loop road project was hatched as a part of the solution for where to put seniors displaced by the closure of the John Booth Center in Highlandtown.)
More Problem-Solving Needed
“That’s the conversation I hope we can have next as part of this,” Walsh said. “That and transit. Maybe there needs to be an Eastside branch of the [Charm City] Circulator to help seniors get around.”
Walsh urged residents to attend the other three meetings on the issue planned by Councilman Kraft.
“Maybe there can be more of a dialogue now and less therapy,” he said.
Here’s the full text of the mayor’s statement:
My administration’s goal is always to improve and enhance our city parks, including creating green space in our neighborhoods and supporting recreational opportunities for children, adults, and seniors.
Today, I’ve ordered the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Health Department to work with Councilman Kraft and community stakeholders to create a Patterson Park Master Plan Working Group. The working group will be charged with building upon the existing master plan to create comprehensive, community-driven strategies to enhance green space, increase traffic safety, and facilitate improved recreational opportunities in and around Patterson Park. The Department of Recreation and Parks will keep residents informed of working group activities.
My administration is committed to working closely with the community to accomplish these goals, and will not proceed with any proposal without significant community input. Enhancing our parks and supporting the needs of our seniors are not mutually exclusive goals.
I want to thank the citizens who enjoy Patterson Park for being engaged and for their support of one of Baltimore’s great community assets.
City of Baltimore