In a statement emailed to constituents on Wednesday, Oct. 3, First District Councilman Jim Kraft announced his intention to put together the working group to decide the future of Patterson Park by the end of the month. Furthermore, the remaining three public meetings to discuss the Recreation and Parks proposal for 96 new parking spaces and a loop road in the park have been cancelled, as the proposal has been put on hold.
“Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake intervened on behalf of the community and ordered the [Department or Recreation and Parks] and the [Health Department] to work with me and the community to create a Patterson Park Master Plan Working Group,” Kraft wrote.
Kraft is referring to Rawlings-Blake’s statement disseminated on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in which she said that she had ordered Recreation and Parks and the Health Department to partner with the councilman to create the group, which would be charged with “building on the 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 mayor’s order came the day after the first of the scheduled Patterson Park meetings, in which nearly 500 residents showed up and loudly expressed their disapproval of the plan to add more parking.
“No more cars, no more parking, and no more paving” has been the dominant message coming from the community since the proposal surfaced.
“The message that we conveyed at Monday evening’s meeting was heard loudly and clearly,” Kraft wrote. “All of the plans of [the Department of Recreation and Parks] and [the Health Department] have been placed on hold. This does not mean that they have been taken off the table. It means that they have been stopped and are not moving forward now.”
The next steps, Kraft wrote, are to cancel the remaining public meetings on the parking proposal, since it is now on hold, and put the working group together by the end of the month.
“Third, as a principal partner in the Working Group,” Kraft wrote, “I will work with DRP and the HD to make certain that all its plans, proposals and actions are shared with the community. There must never be any question about what the Group is doing and whether it is being done in an open and transparent way. Nor should there be any question as to whether the community has had an opportunity to participate in the development of the Master Plan or whether it is reflective of its desires for the future of the Park.”
The plan for 96 parking spots and a loop road had come about in conjunction with a Health Department proposal to relocate the services of the John Booth Senior Center to the park’s Casino building, and for plans from the Department of Recreation and Parks to expand the activities of and renovate the Virginia Baker Recreation Center in the park.
by Erik Zygmont