Patterson Park to get a new master plan

A community-endorsed proposal to reconfigure parking inside the park was deemed too costly by the city

patterson park

The parking issue is on hold as the city seeks residents’ help to update Patterson Park’s master plan.

Photo by: Mark Reutter

Having failed to reach an agreement with residents over parking inside Patterson Park, the Rawlings-Blake administration is now seeking citizen input on updating the park’s master plan.

More than a year after its plan to create 96 parking space and a loop road sparked a rebellion among park users, the mayor’s original idea of a master plan is again front and center, Councilman James B. Kraft told about 75 people last night.

Kraft called the decision to “scrap” the parking and paving issue as a way to make once-in-a-lifetime improvements to the park.

He said he has received a “commitment by the administration to pay attention to our work” and outlined a few long-term scenarios for Patterson Park.

Community Plan Rejected as Too Costly

Last fall, John Mariani, an architect and member of the Fells Prospect Community Association, proposed a way to reduce the number of parking spaces to 21, with 15 of them using the natural contour of the park to be situated below ground level.

Jim Kraft speaks to park advocates at the John Booth-Eleanor Hooper Senior Center. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Jim Kraft speaks to park advocates at the John Booth-Eleanor Hooper Senior Center. (Photo by Mark Reutter)

Mariani’s plan would require some excavation and replacement of a retaining wall at the Virginia Baker Recreation Center.

It was approved by community associations and the park’s working group.

After last night’s meeting, Mariani told The Brew that the Department of Recreation and Parks priced his plan at about $500,000 and said they could not afford the expenditure as part of the planned $3 million renovation of the Baker Center.

Kraft said that after the rejection, he met with the agency and proposed a return to the “overall process” started in 2012 and a review the master plan.

He cited several ideas to improve the park last night, including:

• Moving the Baker Center to another location, possibly at the site of the present ice rink, “which has only two to four years left [of service],” Kraft said.

• Turning Linwood Avenue into a one-way street to permit diagonal parking alongside the park’s eastern perimeter.

• Making “urgently needed” improvements to the park’s interior lights,  promenade and other walkways, and to improve the park entrances, especially at Eastern and Patterson Park avenues.

• Consider a conservancy or another financial model to underwrite permanent funding for park improvements.

Eager Volunteers

The park last underwent a master plan in 1998 and many aspects are now outdated, Kraft said.

He asked for citizens to volunteer on five committees, and found an eager pool of volunteers, many from the ranks of Friends of Patterson Park and surrounding community groups.

Robert Wall, the recently-appointed director of recreation, assured the audience that the revamped master plan would “hit some home runs” for the park. The mayor has freed up money for professional staff to assist the volunteer committees.

Kraft said he hoped the master plan would be completed by the end of 2014.

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  • GXWalsh

    “…the mayor’s original idea is again front and center, Councilman James B. Kraft told about 75 people last night.”

    That isn’t entirely true, right? If you mean the ill received plan placing the parking lot at the original location, I’m pretty sure that was not front and center. Taking what the “Working Group” did and using that as a basis for a new master plan *was* front and center.

  • BmoreFree

    The city’s large parks (Clifton, Druid Hill, Patterson and others) need to shift to a conservancy model. It is obvious that the City no longer cares or has the focus to rebuild and maintain these vital assets that attract people to city living.

    • Cory McCarty

      The conservancy model is one thing that was explicitly mentioned at the meeting. The Maintenance and Governance Working Group will be looking at it.

  • Matthew Riesner

    There seems to be a lot of support in this areas to fix up and maintain the park. Why can’t the city issue and promote the purchase of bonds by residents in these areas to pay for the initial cost of a major park renovation. They could also sell bricks to help pay for improvements.

    • Cory McCarty

      I believe there was some mention at the meeting that issuing bonds could be a possible means of paying for improvements. I’m sure it will be looked at.

  • Thomas Brown

    Whatever the plan, it better have lots more predatory parking ticket enforcement, in order to keep the city government morons happy. They love preying upon their own citizens with fees and fines. Can’t you just see them licking their chops at the secret meetings?

    • Matthew Riesner

      Thanks for pointing that out, city government is very draconian to their citizens when it comes to fines and fees… What gets even better is if you forget about or for some reason don’t receive the original parking ticket (such as it gets destroyed in the rain and snow, fell under the seat, etc.) there will be almost $50 in fees by the time the city mails you a late notice and may have to pay the MVA and extra $25 to remove a flag on your registration to renew your tags. I remember when I was 18 and owed city hall nearly $500 for an unpaid $60 parking ticket for being parked in a street cleaning zone…the funny thing is about 2 years ago I had a parking ticket in Ellicott City that I forgot for over a year until they sent me a notice stating that there will be a $10 late fee added to the ticket…they did not report this to the MVA. A rich county with well off-citizens with a nearly $100,000 median income (most of whom can afford a big fine) lets people off with a $10 late fee for being over a year late but in a city with a $25,000 median income, the city adds $16 per month as a late fee and caps the amount at 10 times the amount of the original fine.

      • davethesuave

        i feel your pain, it’s been my pain too.

    • Cory McCarty

      I would actually *love* to see more parking enforcement inside Patterson Park. Parks are for pedestrians and cyclists, not motor vehicles.

  • Isaac

    The article mentions that volunteers and professionals will work together to develop the master plan. Has the city identified a firm(s) to lead the process?

    • baltimorebrew

      Mahan Rykiel Associates (MRA) has a standing contract with Rec and Parks and was mentioned at Monday’s meeting as the likely firm to give advice to the volunteer committees. –mr

  • Andy Gray

    I’m concerned about Kraft’s statement that the DiPietro Rink has 2-4 years of life left. True that it is in poor shape – the boards and benches are ancient. But we need to keep it! Does anyone know if renovations to the rink are going to be included in the master plan?

  • cwals99

    Patterson Park has long been seen as public land to be developed. It is why all of the harbor development has included parks on what is mostly private land attached to these huge business buildings. This Patterson plan is not Rawlings-Blake plan….it is Baltimore Development’s plan and that is Johns Hopkins. So, if allowed to move forward you can bet that none of the agreements made to residents about the quality of the park and indeed even the fact that the park will be sold in part to private corporation will be honored. What I hear is planned is a large senior center and we know that will need expanded parking.

    If people do not rally around a Mayor in next election that will represent citizens and not Johns Hopkins and Baltimore Development, citizens and communities will not have any say in what will be the moving of development outward into city center! Stop allowing the Baltimore political machines so much power!

    • GXWalsh

      You said this last time the park was in the Brew. What evidence do you have that a cabal is planning to give the park to developers? You previously mentioned that the city health department was trying to make this a health empowerment zone and turn the park into a general health services zone. Do you have any proof of that? In all honesty, I would love to know what it is.

      The park is literally one of the best in the country and has been nationally recognized as such. Any attempt to cheapen it by government or quasi-government or NGOs would look terrible for them.

      The large senior center you’ve heard about is the Hooper Center and it’s been there for a year without any additional parking.

  • VictoryG

    So why is it that we talk so much about the lack of funds at meetings, and not the few hundred thousand dollars that have already been stolen from Patterson park in the last 10 years? Why is it that we cannot prevent metal scrapping looters from destroying city property and stealing wiring and metal structures from the park? The department has spent several hundred thousand dollars in the last 10 years replacing or repairing stolen property. The thieves get very little money for scrapping the metal, while costing taxpayers tons of money. Why aren’t we more pissed about this? Why are metal scrapyards allowed to accept material from nonlicensed people trying to sell stolen materials?

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