While community members continue to meet to form a plan for the future of Patterson Park, the process has changed.
The Guide last reported in March that the Patterson Park Working Group was meeting under the leadership of the Department of Recreation and Parks, and an updated master plan for Patterson Park was expected by the end of this year, a due date highlighted by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in a letter to the group.
Now, though Recreation and Parks is still leading the process, sources are putting that due date later, possibly toward the spring of 2015.
“We’re trying to coordinate with the city’s CIP [capital improvement project] request schedule,” said Jennifer Arndt Robinson, executive director of the Friends of Patterson Park and a member of the Patterson Park Master Plan Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee meets “monthly at a minimum, and more often if needed,” Robinson said.
Like its prior iteration, the Patterson Park Working Group, the Steering Committee is a group of about 20 including representatives from community organizations near Patterson Park, nonprofits vested in the park such as the Friends and the Patterson Park Audubon Center, and city departments such as Recreation and Parks, the Health Department, and other similar stakeholder groups.
The Steering Committee last met Aug. 7, and outlined some actions to be undertaken in the master planning process, including two surveys, a “snapshot” survey of park users and their perceptions, and a more formal, statistics-oriented survey in which park users would be interviewed during all seasons and times of day.
“Going along with this process, we want to make sure we understand the most current user data,” said Robinson.
Though the Guide did not attend the Aug. 7 meeting, community members with whom we spoke—including Robinson—expressed optimism about the process, despite the delayed time line.
“I think at first the process seemed to be stalled,” said Scott Richmond, a resident of the Patterson Place neighborhood who has been taking detailed notes of the meetings.
“I think more recently, Baltimore City and the Mahan Rykiel consultants have stepped forward and put a nice process in place and are moving forward with it.”
The first part of Richmond’s comment refers to a July 16 meeting, in which Steering Committee members were first informed that the master planning process had changed. At that meeting, community members were informed that, rather than facilitating the Steering Committee meetings, Mahan Rykiel Associates, a city design and planning firm, would be taking information from the Steering Committee and Recreation and Parks and assembling it into more formal reports in-house.
During the last series of Patterson Park Working Group meetings, which wrapped up in June of last year, Mahan Rykiel facilitated discussion, coming to each monthly meeting with presentations informed by the prior meetings.
Also on July 16, the Steering Committee was informed of the longer time line for the project.
“It’s going more slowly than I would like it go at this point,” said Councilman Jim Kraft, taking a less optimistic tone than Robinson or Richmond. “At this point…I’m going to defer to the community groups and the working group folks. If they are happy with the speed at which it’s moving, that’ll be fine with me…I got the sense the other night that the community was a little more accepting of the time schedule they [the city] were putting forward.” He added with a laugh, “I wasn’t, but the community was.”
The master planning process is now focused on five main components of Patterson Park—its access, its recreational facilities and uses, programming, the maintenance and governance of it all, and finance. These components were assigned special subcommittees in March, and Robinson said that they are still meeting as needed.
She added that the community will continue to have a voice in the process.
“There will be community involvement along the way, absolutely,” she said.
by Erik Zygmont