First District Councilman Jim Kraft said that he has forwarded Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s office a list of people to be considered for the Patterson Park working group, which he would like assembled by the beginning of next week (Oct. 15-19), and to meet at least once by the end of October.
“I think it’s important not to lose momentum that we’ve gotten,” he said on Friday.
Kraft is waiting to hear back from the mayor’s office on his recommendations.
“What I’ve been told is that the mayor’s office is taking all of that into consideration,” he said.
Kraft said that he recommended a representative and alternate from each community association surrounding the park to be in the working group, plus a representative from each of the “umbrella groups,” such as the Friends of Patterson Park, Audubon Society, and the Parks & People Foundation.
Additionally, he said he recommended a couple “at large” members, and representatives from the schools, as well as “a representative—not plural” from the Recreation and Parks Department, Health Department, mayor’s office, and city council president’s office.
There were also “easily a dozen” people who personally contacted the councilman and asked to be in the working group. Kraft said that he put those names before the mayor’s office as well.
“I wanted to make sure everyone is considered,” he said.
Kraft said that though he put forward somewhere around 30-plus individuals, the actualized working group won’t be that large.
“What we have to be wary of is that the work group cannot be so large it becomes unwieldy,” he said.
Kraft said that he was not sure if anyone representing the John Booth Senior Center is being considered.
The parking plan that had called for 96 new spaces and a loop road, which is now on hold, had been proposed in conjunction with a Health Department proposal to relocate the John Booth Center’s services to Patterson Park’s Casino building. Expansion of the Virginia Baker Recreation Center has also figured into the proposal.
“We view the issue with regard to seniors as use of the recreation center and use of facilities,” said Kraft. “One of the concerns raised over and over again is that seniors should not be segregated off to themselves.”
He said that the recreation center could be a viable location for senior programs and activities that would put the seniors together with young community members.
“When we renovate and expand the rec center, we can partition some of that space toward seniors,” said Kraft. “They go to the senior center for company, and this would give them an opportunity to build their social base.”
by Erik Zygmont