Maryland General Assembly Awards $1 Million to Rash Field Redevelopment

| April 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore’s (WPOB) redevelopment of Rash Field has received a boost as the Maryland General Assembly awarded the project a $1-million bond bill. WPOB looks to break ground on Phase One of the more than $20-million project in the fourth quarter of this year.

Prior to this $1 million, WPOB secured $10 million in funding from the City of Baltimore and $2 million from the State of Maryland. In 2016-2017, WPOB hoped to get $2 million from the State of Maryland, but was only awarded $1 million. The organization is happy to now get the other $1 million it previously requested for the redevelopment.

“We are grateful to have received a $1 million bond bill appropriation in this year’s General Assembly session,” said WPOB President Laurie Schwartz in a statement.  “This additional $1 million gets us closer to groundbreaking and making our vision for Rash Field Park a reality. Support from our 46th District Delegation and Chairwoman McIntosh will help ensure thousands of families and people across Baltimore have a safe and central place to play, relax, and enjoy.”

The 46th District Delegation is made up of Senator Bill Ferguson, Delegate Brooke Lierman, Delegate Luke Clippinger, and Delegate Robbyn Lewis.

Private fundraising has been underway for the seven-acre Rash Field redevelopment, but WPOB has not yet announced how much has been raised.

Phase One will renovate the western side of the park with a redeveloped pavilion with a café, outdoor patio, overlook, bathrooms, shade structure, and amphitheater seating; a skate park called Jake’s Skate Park; a children’s nature park; a children’s playground; and new plants and landscaping. These new features will replace a small parking lot (not the one designated for the Maryland Science Center), a green space, a brick patio with a sandbox, and the western edge of the concrete bleachers.

The café will be “an amenity to the park first and foremost,” said Schwartz. The interior will have room for about 20 to 30 tables. Schwartz said it will not be a full-service restaurant or kitchen, but likely serve quicker items like paninis.

On the west side of the pavilion, a shade structure will cover amphitheater-style seating that will face the children’s play areas. Schwartz said this is so parents can watch their kids in the shade.

Construction on Phase One is expected to take 12 to 18 months.

On a 2016 ballot referendum, Question 8 passed which allowed for two small cafes with liquor licenses for West Shore Park and Rash Field. WPOB is now working with the State to enable this license. Once the bill is passed, WPOB will then work with the community on a memorandum of understanding and The Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City (BLLC) to approve the new liquor license. 

One liquor license will go to the pavilion café at Rash Field. WPOB does not yet have any plans for the liquor license at West Shore Park.

Schwartz called the liquor license for Rash Field a “supporting component of the cafe.” She added, “it can be a great addition to the park that can keep people there longer. People can enjoy a glass of wine while visiting the harbor or a beer after a hot day of beach volleyball.”

The eastern section of the park was built as a stadium for Southern High School (now Digital Harbor High School) athletics in 1975, but Southern began using different fields several years later. The concrete track and cement bleachers remain, and the former grass field has been the home to Baltimore Beach Volleyball for the last 19 years. It also serves as a memorial for the Pride of Baltimore and as an open green space that was once the home of a trapeze school.

In Phase Two, this section will become a reorganized seven-court volleyball area adjacent to the pavilion and café, a large lawn that will be used for youth sports and events, a game lawn, a shade lawn, a repositioned Pride of Baltimore memorial, and a myriad of sloped paths that will replace the bleachers and transition the change in grade from Key Hwy. to the ground level of the park. Plans for Phase Two will continue to develop. WPOB has not set a timeline for this second phase and is hoping progress on the first phase will boost fundraising for the project.

WPOB is working with Mahan Rykeil on the park design, Gensler on the pavilion design, and Grindline on the skatepark design.

Ben Hyman serves as the project manager of the Rash Field redevelopment.

Ideas for the redevelopment of Rash Field first began to arise in the early 2000s and this plan began to move forward in early 2016. WPOB is looking forward to finally making the redevelopment a reality.

“We are certainly excited. We are seeing funders and the community enthusiastic as we get closer,” said Schwartz.

Screenshot courtesy of Google Maps


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