Patterson Park: Getting by with a little help from the Friends: Organization seeking new members

Written by on November 28, 2012 in Featured, Neighborhood News - No comments

Patterson Park Friends Jennifer Arndt Robinson, left, and Jenn Aiosa enjoy a crisp fall day in the park.

The Friends of Patterson Park, created per the park’s Master Plan in 1998, is currently looking for new members. Two long-time members, Jenn Aiosa and Jennifer Arndt Robinson, are changing roles. After six years on the Friends of Patterson Park Board, and years as a Friend prior to that, Jenn Aiosa is leaving the board. Jennifer Arndt Robinson, who has been president of the board for the last two years, is stepping down to serve on the Patterson Park Working Group.

The Friends are having a happy hour tonight, Wednesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Sharky’s Bar and Grill, 2819 Eastern Ave. Those who come and become a new member of the Friends or bring a new member get a free drink and “treasure.”
The Guide caught up with Arndt Robinson and Aiosa to discuss how Patterson Park has changed over the years.

How has the park changed over the course of your involvement?
Arndt Robinson: I’ve been in Baltimore since ‘98, and in the Patterson Park neighborhood since ‘01. Originally, I lived on Ellwood Ave. I purposely bought a house a few blocks away from the park because the park wasn’t an asset back then. It took a few years to get the park to a become a place that wasn’t “to be avoided.”
It’s so different now; the park is a reason for people to move here. When I got married, my husband and I stayed here because of the park.
Aiosa: It’s a little bit chicken or egg—what happened first, more people in the park or the improvement in the park? There were many people who saw Patterson Park as a “diamond in the rough.”
I had my dogs; I would only bring them to the park on Saturday morning, when people were using it. I think there was a reputation, too, that kept people away. As people ventured in, people saw that there was this extended community of people that wanted to see the park get better. Once the Friends of Patterson Park formed, we started implementing a capital improvement program. The Pagoda and the marble fountain were two very successful projects.

What are important targets for the future of Patterson Park and the Friends of Patterson Park?
Arndt Robinson: We’re focused on keeping our programming free, to reach as many people as possible. We’re also interested in increasing our individual members [in the Friends of Patterson Park]. We’d love to continue engaging residents.
Aiosa: We need to keep reaching out to corporate and other donors. It’s important to keep stuff going. A majority of these improvement efforts are paid for by the Friends of Patterson Park, not by the city. When there are 2,000 people enjoying a concert, that does have to be paid for. We want folks to understand that they can be involved and contribute to what’s happening in the park.

What is  your personal favorite park activity?
Arndt Robinson: The summer concert series. We’ve seen it evolve over the years; now it’s strollers and dogs as far as the eye can see.
Aiosa: Personally, I love the tree team. It’s just fun. One Saturday morning a month, and it’s actually pretty social. It’s young-to-middle-aged folks who want to get outside and do something a little physical.
(Aiosa met her husband on the tree team six years ago.)

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