Baltimore, Maryland

Location of Leon Day Park within the Larger Plan for the development of the Gwynns Falls Trail in Baltimore, Maryland.

Leon Day Park: Case Description

Leon Day Park, a large meadow located along the Gwynns Falls Trail in Baltimore, was a centerpiece of Olmsted’s vision for the city. Underused since hit by a hurricane in 1972, revitalization of the park was initiated in 1995 as part of a larger plan for the Gwynns
Falls Trail, by two non-profit groups, the Trust for Public Land and the Parks & People Foundation. The park revitalization project was part of a process to broaden the constituency for the Gwynns Falls Trail by developing a “punctuation point” of active athletic and playground facilities along the trail. The effort was intended to reach a low income and working class African-American community adjacent to the trail by addressing their concerns about the lack of facilities for area youth. A community design charrette, facilitated by volunteer architects and landscape designers, was held with neighborhood residents and city representatives to develop a master plan for the park. A local engineering firm was hired to develop the final site plan following the community’s site improvement recommendations. Construction funds were donated by Parks & People, the Trust for Public Land, and by the Baltimore Orioles for a state of the art baseball field ($200,000). The city promised funds ($150,000) and developed a timeline, budget and construction schedule. Currently under construction, the park is scheduled to be completed by March 1, 1999. The baseball field will be ready for play inthe Spring 2000. A special committee of the citywide Gwynns Falls Trail Council will handle publicity and fund raising for the park.

Plan for Leon Day Park. The plan includes baseball diamonds, a football field, new basketball courts, a bike path, a playground, picnic areas, and a concession stand.

Leon Day Park: Step by Step Master Planning Process

  1. Since Hurricane Agnes destroyed Bloomington Ovals facilities in 1972, Bloomington Oval, a large meadow located along the Gwynns Falls Trail, has remained weedy and underused although it was once a centerpiece of Olmsted’s vision for parkland in Baltimore.
  2. Involved in the area since 1995, the project was initiated by the Trust for Public Land and Parks & People in conjunction with the local neighborhood group.  Revitalization of the park was part of an overall effort by the Trust for Public Land and Parks & People to complete a “signature project” in each of the three parts of the planned Gwynns Fall Trail.
  3. TPL and Parks & People received $55,000 dollars as the result of a settlement with Reebok. TPL and Parks & People did outreach and community organizing to get people interested in participating in a design charrette. According to Chris Ryer, former director of the Baltimore TPL, the project drew the interest of the predominantly working class, African-American residential neighborhood, because of the focus on athletic facilities for a variety of ages and the opportunities for mentoring by adult males, coaching, and athletic leagues.
  4. In March of 1997, a community design charrette was held with neighborhood residents facilitated by volunteer architects and landscape designers from the Neighborhood Design Center and sponsored by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, the Department of Planning, the Trust for Public Land, the Parks and People Foundation, and support from the local Abell Foundation. The charrette involved a neighborhood planning process to help develop a master plan for the oval. Seventy-five local residents generated five different plans, all containing common elements of playing fields for local youth, new basketball courts, a bike path, a playground, picnic areas, and a concession stand. The engineering firm of Daft McCune Walker was contracted by the Department of Recreation and Parks to develop the master plan for the site incorporating site improvement recommendations made by the community. The lead designer at the firm had participated as a volunteer in the Neighborhood Design Center charrette and was very familiar with the charrette plans and neighborhood desires.
  5. The Trust for Public Land and the Parks and People Foundation donated $100,000 towards the project. The Trust for Public Land sought funding from the Baltimore Orioles, who promised $100,000 for a lighted baseball facility. The city also promised funds ($150,000) and developed a timeline, budget and construction schedule for completing the planned renovations.
  6. On August 23, 1997 residents from Baltimore’s Franklintown and Rosemont neighborhoods gathered in Bloomington Oval to celebrate the passage of a bill changing the park’s name to Leon Day Park, in honor of a Negro Leagues baseball Hall of Famer who lived in the area after he retired.
  7. The Department of Public Works is in charge of the construction management of the project. The project is currently under construction. Leon Day Park is scheduled to be up and running by March 1, 1999 although the baseball fields will need a year before regular playing on them can begin.

Plans courtesy of Baltimore Trust For Public Land.

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Master Planning Case Study: Leon Day Park was last modified: March 7th, 2012 by Project for Public Spaces
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