This is the Rawlings Conservatory, one of the many attractions of Druid Hill Park which is surrounded by 1.5 acres of land. (Photo by the Baltimore National Heritage Area)

By Grace Kpetemey,
Special to the AFRO,
gkpetemey@afro.com

Druid Hill Park has been a refuge for Baltimore City residents and tourists looking to stay healthy, active and involved in the community for 162 years. Now, the park is set to receive a level of investment unseen since its inception in May 22, 1973. 

Recently, Druid Hill Park Partnership, a non-profit organization, held their first public event in the park in an effort to engage with local leaders, community residents, and developers. 

Founder of Druid Hill Park Partnership, Catalina Byrd was very pleased with the turnout. Among the crowd were representatives from the Department of Transportation, the Department of Recreation and the Office of Senator Van Hollen and the Office of Congressman Kwesi Mfume. 

“This is really special,” said Byrd. “[We] studied a lot of models and transpiration surveys. We worked really hard on this and we know how important this is to the communities that surround us. We are grateful that people met us with open hearts and mind.” 

Druid Hill Park Partnership was founded by local residents in hopes to foster relationships with various stakeholders, city agencies, community groups, private entities, and other non-profits. 

The park sits on 745 acres, and is home to an assortment of different attractions including the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Rawlings Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Three Sisters Ponds, the Druid Hill Park Pool, Disc Golf Course, World War I Grove of Remembrance, and several historical structures. 

Efforts to renovate and revive the park to its full potential have been made before, but they have not amounted to the extraordinary renovations the park stands to see in the future. Druid Hill Park Partnership intends to have a more active voice to ensure the park receives the right attention and support. 

Chairman of Druid Hill Park Partnership, Dale Terril, believes projects in the park such as Druid Hill Lake and the road around it which are critical for the trajectory of the park. As a result of their concern for the transparency and openness of these projects in the past, Druid Hill Park Partnership prioritized clear communication between residents, developers, and elected officials during their event. 

“There are so many things going on in the park, so it is so crucial that we communicate to everyone out there,” said Terril. “We want to provide that sort of third party neutral source to bring everyone together to get every voice heard in a meaningful way. We’re sort of really at an inflection point– what are we going to do to turn this amazing asset into something that can be the shining star of our city.” 

High profile companies were present, to include Whiting Turner, Seawall Development and the various neighborhood groups including Reservoir Hill Association, Park Heights Renaissance, Penn-North Association.

Terrill and Byrd emphasized the event’s priority was not to conduct a meeting, but rather to introduce themselves. They have not set a date for next event, but Terill stressed that outreach is at the top of their agenda. 

“There is never a point where you’re done with engagement. From here on out everyone will have a seat at the table and everyone will have a chance to participate. Next steps will depend upon having interaction with those who support us.

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