The Patterson Park Working Group has reached a consensus—to meet again on June 18.
At its last meeting, on May 22, the group saw proposals prepared by landscape architecture firm Mahan Rykiel Associates, which is being contracted by the Department of Recreation and Parks to facilitate the Working Group meetings. Tom McGilloway and Nate Scott, both of Mahan Rykiel, have been moderating Working Group discussions and putting the group’s larger conversations—including points of agreement and disagreement—into concise framing documents.
Representatives of community associations expressed misgivings about the Mahan Rykiel plans, which in two cases added a parking lot immediately west of the Casino.
“The reason we are here is because of an unagreeable plan was presented six months ago,” said Joe DiMattina of the Patterson Park Neighborhood Association. “If we give the community another unagreeable plan, we’re going to be right back here.”
The Working Group also saw a proposal created by John Mariani, who represents the Fells Prospect neighborhood to the group and also happens to be an architect.
About halfway through the meeting, Butchers Hill representative Dave Phoebus presented Mariani’s plan as part of a “Patterson Park Working Group Community Proposal,” a consensus apparently reached at a separate meeting of those Working Group members who also represent community associations: Butchers Hill, Fells Prospect, Canton, Patterson Park (neighborhood), Patterson Place, Hampstead Hill and Highlandtown.
Beyond the community associations, the Working Group also includes representatives from city departments such as Recreation and Parks, Health, Planning, Transportation and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods. It also includes nonprofits such as the Southeast Community Development Corporation, the Patterson Park Audubon Center, the Friends of Patterson Park and the Parks and People Foundation, as well as four schools near the park.
Speaking for the community associations, Phoebus stated that they reject the idea that parking and vehicular access to the park should be determined by park programs and user groups.
“Otherwise, you would be putting in a big parking lot down by the swimming pool,” he observed.
The Mariani plan would put a total of 13 parking spaces at the Virginia Baker Recreation Center and six spaces at the Casino, with two of those spaces being compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The four regular spaces would be just south of the Casino building; the two ADA spaces would be in the middle of the paved circle—which would be slightly widened to accommodate them—just southeast of the building.
Nine spaces at the Recreation Center would be head-in angle parking against the retaining wall just west of the building. There would also be four drop-off/waiting spaces along the west side of the building. Traffic accessing the Recreation Center would drive north along the west side of the building, and either pull to the left into one of the head-in spots, or pull into one of the four parallel spots (the drop-off/waiting spaces) on the right.
The eight existing spaces to the south of the building would be removed after the building’s renovation, as would the road that currently exists from the Casino’s front entrance to the Patterson Park Promenade.
Mariani told the Working Group that he had visited the John Booth Senior Center, and that members had told him that the center typically gets 20 visitors per day, many of whom, he said, walk.
“A couple people drove; a couple people got dropped off,” Mariani added, noting that the city’s zoning code has no parking requirement for senior centers, but that clubs and lodges need to have one space for every four users.
Rosalee Velenovsky, manager of the Booth Center, confirmed that the center gets about 20 to 24 vistors per day. She said that user Ray Lubinski often drives four to five people; sometimes he makes two trips. She said that other users park where they can, usually within a half block of the center, or walk. She said that “at the most,” 12 cars are parked near the center.
Arnold Eppel, director of the Health Department’s Office on Aging, objected strongly to Mariani’s proposal on the grounds that it placed the bulk of the parking near the Rec Center rather than the Casino, where the senior services of the Booth Center would be relocated.
Chief of Parks Bill Vondrasek told the Working Group that he would evaluate the possibility of having some senior programming in the Rec Center as opposed to the Casino, as well as moving some of the traditional Rec Center programming to the Casino. He also said that he would have a traffic engineer evaluate Mariani’s plan.
Vondrasek said that once a plan is selected, the community association representatives might take the summer to go back to their communities with the plan. The Working Group is also discussing how best to continue its work on the park’s overall Master Plan.
by Erik Zygmont