In a letter to constituents posted on the Friends of Patterson Park website, Councilman Jim Kraft says the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks has proposed building a paved “loop” road through Patterson Park and 96 new parking spaces.
Kraft says that at a Sept. 12 meeting attended by Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot and William Vondrasek, the acting Director of Recreation and Parks, he received a copy of a drawing entitled “Patterson Park Parking Study.”
“This is not a ‘parking study,’” writes Kraft, adding that he is opposed to the proposal. “It is a proposal by the DRP…”
Reaction against the plan to build a loop road and new parking areas, thereby increasing automobile traffic in the park, has generated a strong reaction from local residents. A recently launched Facebook page, “Patterson Park — Help Stop The Paving Of Our Beautiful Park,” garnered 454 “Likes” by 1 p.m. Wednesday.
The park’s advocacy and volunteer organization, Friends of Patterson Park, is against the proposal, encouraging residents to email local officials. An online change.org petition that will be sent to the Baltimore City’s Department of Recreation and Parks and the Health Department has collected 426 signatures to date.
Kraft notes that in the proposal the Department of Recreation and Parks “also says that it will block off further vehicle access into the Park and remove some existing asphalt.” However, Kraft maintains, these “are not new plans; they are long-time, long-awaited actions. Actions that we have repeatedly requested be done and they repeatedly promised to do over a number of years.”
The proposal by Baltimore City, according to Kraft, was prompted by a decision to close the John Booth Senior Center in Highlandtown and transfer its activities to the Casino Building inside Patterson Park.
In a Baltimore Brew story today, Kraft said he found the proposal disconcerting, at best.
“I was very upset,” Kraft told the Brew. “This plan completely contradicts what the community has been requesting for years. Their goal is to have increased green space for the heavy pedestrian usage of the park. What this will do is open the park to unlimited car traffic.”
(Editor’s note: Baltimore Senior Editor Ron Cassie lives in the Patterson Park neighborhood.)