BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Families are invited to enjoy new amenities at Rash Field Park in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which celebrated its grand opening Friday.

Children from Solo Gibbs Recreation Center joined city and state officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the culmination of a years-long, $16.8 million effort to breathe new life into the waterfront park.

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Starting on Saturday, visitors to the park will now be greeted by an adventure park and nature park for children, a newly installed skate park and a shaded lawn where people can sit and enjoy views of the city’s skyline.

“Recreation plays a huge role in the development of our youth,” Mayor Brandon Scott said. “Ensuring access to high-quality facilities, like Rash Field Park, is a crucial way to show our investment in our youth and our communities.”

In light of its reopening, the waterfront park will play host to a slate of family-friendly activities over the weekend, including a skate party, Zumba and yoga on Saturday, followed by yoga, cycling and a skate demo on Sunday.

New park amenities include a kids’ adventure park featuring two 30-foot wooden towers, a nature park sponsored by Baltimore Gas & Electric and Jake’s Skate Park, which is named after Jake Owen, a 5-year-old killed in 2011 by a distracted driver.

The new features are part of the first phase of the park’s renovation, which was paid for by a combination of city, state and private sources. Among the donors are BGE, which contributed $1 million, and T. Rowe Price, which donated $300,000.

The renovation, the product of more than a year of construction work, has been years in the making. The Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore has been pushing to transform Rash Field Park since 2015.

“It takes people like the Waterfront Partnership to set out a vision to quietly go to work. This was no small project and every corner there were new hurdles or new wrinkles or new changes or new additions. But along the way, consistently a clear vision that was executed every single day is what brings us all here today,” said Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson.

Ferguson said he was proud to champion efforts to secure state funding for the park because cities like Baltimore can’t expect to see their uptown communities thrive while their downtowns struggle.

“We rise and fall together, and today’s investment here at Rash Field and what this incredible, incredible space represents is everything that is good with this city,” he said. “This is what we can do when we dream big.”

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Plans for the second phase include a reimagined beach space featuring volleyball courts, walking and jogging paths, soccer fields, exercise equipment, a game lawn, and bird and butterfly gardens.

Laurie Schwartz, president of Waterfront Partnership, praised the city, state and private donors, whom she said the project would not have been possible without.

“We were so thrilled to see our vision for Baltimore families come to life today with children of all ages climbing, laughing and playing in the park,” Schwartz said.

Count Liz Church and her children Aiden and Quinny among the renovated park’s first fans. “It’s a beautiful view. It’s really upping the game of Baltimore,” she said as her children played nearby.

Church and Claire Johnson told WJZ they think the upgraded amenities will bring more foot traffic to the city’s waterfront.

“We’re really excited about having more people in the community coming to the Inner Harbor,” Johnson said.

Others, like Jerrod Sparrow, expressed skepticism that the renovations at Rash Field benefit other city neighborhoods.

“You have so many other parks and rec centers that need remodeling or need renovation that’s not getting back to the community,” Sparrow said.

Weekend Festivities

Below is a list of activities residents and families can take part in on Saturday and Sunday at Rash Field Park.

Saturday

  • 10 a.m. Skate Party
  • 12 p.m. Zumba
  • 1 p.m. Botanical Art In the Park
  • 2 p.m. Invertebrate Meet-N-Greet In the Garden
  • 4 p.m. Afternoon Yoga
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Sunday

  • 9 a.m. Sunrise Yoga
  • 10 a.m. Free Biking Around The Promenade
  • 11 a.m. Garden Discovery
  • 2 p.m. Skate Demo With Joey Jett

Paul Gessler