BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The decision over whether or not to pave part of Patterson Park is stirring up controversy.
Kai Jackson has more.
This issue is putting residents at Patterson Park at odds with City Hall.
Patterson Park is a jewel of green amidst all the asphalt in an East Side neighborhood.
“This park is the only place around that there’s any greenery at all,” said resident Branch Coleman III.
Yet a plan by the city Health Department could change that. Under the mayor’s direction, the Health Department wants to move the John Booth Senior Center currently in Highlandtown to a business in Patterson Park known as The Casino. In doing so, the city plans to add 96 parking spaces in the park.
Residents are furious.
“There’s absolutely no plan that the mayor can put forth that includes 96 parking spaces inside of that park that we’re going to be okay with,” said Joe DiMattina, Patterson Park Neighborhood Association.
The park is in Councilman Jim Kraft’s district and this issue has put him at odds with the mayor.
“Three times as much pavement is going to be removed from the park than is being planned to be installed. He didn’t talk about that part. He sent up red flags unnecessarily,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“I do not believe that it is in the best interest of the park or the community to allow any more cars in the park,” Kraft said.
Some say adding parking to Patterson Park will encourage the return of something many feel they’ve gotten under control: crime.
Other residents WJZ talked with say they don’t oppose the senior center but they’re worried that new parking will eliminate precious green space.
“I feel like it’s a danger to the people that walk through the park, that bike through the park, that have children and dogs so I’m opposed to the parking,” said Annalisa McCann.
So far, 4,600 people in the Patterson Park community have signed a petition against the proposal. The city will hold public meetings starting Monday night.