Thirteen parking spaces at the Virginia Baker Recreation Center and six spaces at the Casino is the plan for Patterson Park.
Last Tuesday, the Patterson Park Working Group chose Fell’s Prospect representative John Mariani’s plan to afford senior citizens access to the Casino, which by the end of the summer will likely house the programming currently underway at the John Booth Senior Center.
Mariani’s plan puts four spaces just south of the Casino, using existing pavement. Two handicapped spaces would be placed in the center of the pavement circle just southeast of the building, which may need to be widened slightly to accommodate them.
The 13 spaces at the Recreation Center would require more site work. Nine spaces would be head-in, angle parking against the retaining wall just west of the building. Cars would enter that lot from the south, and either pull in to the head-in spaces on the left, or parallel park in one of four pick-up/drop-off spaces to driver’s right. In order to accommodate all 13 spaces, the existing retaining wall would need to be pushed back some to create more space.
The eight existing spaces to the south of the Recreation Center would be removed after the building’s renovation, as would the road that currently connects the Casino’s front entrance to the Patterson Park Promenade.
As of July 1—the start of fiscal year 2014—there is $3.1 million available for the project, which, in addition to the parking improvements, includes the renovation of the Recreation Center, a much larger component. Plans have not yet been proposed for the renovation.
Chief of Parks Bill Vondrasek warned the Working Group that, given the need to advance the retaining wall, Mariani’s plan may be expensive. Vondrasek relayed the opinion of Gennady Schwartz, chief of capital development for Recreation and Parks. Vondrasek said that Schwartz, a former highway engineer “who helped build the Jones Falls Expressway,” had said that the Recreation Center parking lot may cost $100,000 to $200,000 to build.
Vondrasek expressed concern that the high cost of the parking improvements may impact the Recreation Center renovation.
While members of the Working Group argued that Recreation and Parks could request more money for the project if necessary, Vondrasek responded that a project cannot be put out to bid until the funds for that project are “in the bank.”
“If it comes in at $3.2 million, Gennady will turn to the director and say, ‘We’re $100,000 over; what do you want to not [build]?’”
The discussion turned toward budgets and timing, and whether it would be feasible to wait to start the project until additional money was secured, if need be. Requests for fiscal year 2015—which begins on July 1, 2014—are due in October of this year. Delegate Peter Hammen asked the Working Group if July 1, 2014, was too late to start the project.
“Are we really losing a lot of time?” Hammen asked.
“No” was the consensus.
The Working Group members will now be bringing the parking plan back to their respective neighborhoods for comment. Recreation and Parks will be looking into the cost of implementing the plan.
First District Councilman James Kraft thanked the Working Group, which has been meeting since late fall of last year.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Working Group,” Kraft said.
He also thanked Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for supporting the plan developed by the community.
by Erik Zygmont