Ceremonial Groundbreaking Held for Phase I of the Rash Field Redevelopment

| January 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held today for Phase I of the redevelopment of Rash Field. The $16.8-million Phase I will renovate the western side of the 7.5-acre park on the south side of the Inner Harbor.

The project is led by Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore in partnership with Baltimore City Recreation and Parks.

Phase I will add a redeveloped pavilion with a café, outdoor patio, overlook with a partially green roof, bathrooms, a shade structure, and amphitheater seating; a skate park called Jake’s Skate Park; a children’s nature park; a children’s kinetic 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.

Jake’s Skatepark is named in memory of Jake Owen, a South Baltimore resident, avid skater, and sports lover, who was killed in 2011 when he was five years old by a cell phone-distracted driver.

The café will be “an amenity to the park first and foremost,” Waterfront Partnership President Laurie Schwartz told SouthBMore.com in April. 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. It will have a liquor license and Waterfront Partnership 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. 

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.

Mahan Rykiel serves as the park’s designer after being selected from a group of 13 submissions in 2015.  Gensler was the designer of the pavilion. Whiting-Turner is the construction manager and general contractor.

The City will contribute more than $9.5 million towards design and construction costs, and Waterfront Partnership has raised an additional $4.3 million from the State of Maryland and nearly $1 million from private sources. Fundraising efforts continue for the park.

Schwartz said today that construction equipment will begin to arrive in the next month, construction fencing and a new electrical transformer will be added, and then demolition will begin.

Waterfront Partnership is hoping to have Phase I opened in Spring or Summer of 2021.

Waterfront Partnership will be turning its attention to fundraising for Phase II. Schwartz said in the perfect world Phase II in the eastern section of the park will begin as Phase I is completed so that they can keep Whiting-Turner on site.

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 II, 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 II will continue to develop.

Ideas for the redevelopment of Rash Field first began to arise in the early 2000s

“A priority for Rash Field Park is and always has been to serve families city-wide by providing ample amenities and opportunities for youth and adults alike and today, we had a glimpse of what’s to come,” said Schwartz in a press release. “With help from generous donors, partners, city and state officials, and the community, Baltimore will have a state-of-the-art park to gather, learn, play and live.”

“Our administration is proud to support the groundbreaking of the future Rash Field Park, Baltimore City, a transformative project that will provide a safe, open space for both residents and visitors alike,” said Governor Larry Hogan in a press release. “The recreational opportunities and educational programming that this space will offer will have a tremendous impact on our youth, families, and surrounding communities.”

“The City of Baltimore is proud to provide funding to the renovation of Rash Field Park. The milestone groundbreaking that we witnessed today is just the beginning of what will be a transformative open space for all residents and visitors of Baltimore,” said Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young in a press release. “Safe and central recreational and educational spaces are vital to the health of our communities, and I thank Waterfront Partnership for being a strong partner in making this project a reality.”

“Advancing our city through improved parks and recreation resources remains one of our agency’s main goals,” said Reginald Moore, executive director of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, in a press release. “The Rash Field redevelopment demonstrates what is possible when city, state and local partners collaborate and prioritize the needs of our communities. We look forward to the new opportunities it will bring Baltimore residents and visitors.”

Current site

Phase I renderings from Waterfront Partnership, Mahan Rykiel, and Gensler 

Screenshot courtesy of Google Maps

 

Renderings from RashField.org

 

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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