Reedbird Park Redevelopment and Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center to Break Ground This Summer

| June 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

A $23,134,000 Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP) project to redevelop Reedbird Park in Cherry Hill is set to break ground this summer. The park, which was once a trash incinerator and landfill, will be the site of a 40,000 sq. ft. Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center and four new multi-purpose fields.

Adam Boarman, chief of capital development for BCRP, told he and BCRP Director Reginald Moore were looking around Cherry Hill two years ago after a recreation center was proposed to be built at Patapsco Elementary Middle School. They wanted to see to see if there was a better location for the community. They thought Reedbird Park would be a special opportunity because the recreation center could connect with athletic fields and the Cherry Hill Splash Park.

Reedbird Park is located on the southern end of Cherry Hill along the Patpasco River and adjacent to Potee St./Rt 2. Boarman said it’s a beautiful site, but very underutilized. Along with the splash park, it has two basketball courts, two tennis courts, a playground, paths connecting to the Gwynns Falls Trail, and a large grass field. It also has a small fishing pier on the river.

The current location of the playground and sports courts, which sit adjacent to Potee St., will be replaced a new turf field with lights and bleachers. BCRP is partnering on this project with South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP), which manages half of South Baltimore’s casino Local Impact Funds, and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.

Adjacent to the turf field, will be three grass fields. In a second phase, lights and a walking path around the fields will be added. The fields will eventually have a field house.

The fields will open before the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center is completed.

The Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center will be located at Reedbird Ave. and Seamon Ave. It will be fronted by a new community plaza. The center will have three separate pools including a lap pool, a plunge pool with a slide, and a wading pool for kids; an open area with fitness and gym equipment; studios for fitness classes; a gymnasium with a basketball court; and a maker space. A second-story walking track will travel through all the different sections of the building.

A 100-space parking lot will be built just west of the center and just north of the three grass fields. The parking lot will need a City Council ordinance to move forward. With the City Council’s schedule in flux due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for the ordinance has put the project several months behind schedule.

Knowing that parking lots in parks can sometimes receive push back, Boarman said the parking lot has 10 different letters of support from stakeholders in the community. Boarman said many Cherry Hill residents were worried users of this redeveloped park would fill up the existing parking spaces in the neighborhood.

BCRP has teamed with GWWO Architects and Floura Teeter Landscape Architects on the plan.

Construction will start in late August or early September. It will start with a mass grading of the site and a new two-foot cap of clean dirt will be added.

A second phase of the project will add a dog park and two outdoor basketball courts along Reedbird Ave. and a playground located in-between the sports fields.

Boarman said he would eventually like to see some invasive species management along the waterfront which currently blocks views of the water. He also said it would be great to do a boardwalk along the water one day, but said that is not currently in the budget.

SBGP has committed $2.2 million to the project. “We want to create a world class center that is beloved by the people of Cherry Hill, but also by the entire South Baltimore area, and can host major tournaments and events for the region,” said SBGP Executive Director Brad Rogers. “During this pandemic, we are seeing how critical it is for mental and physical health to have high-quality parks.”

The redevelopment of Reedbird Park is a key aspect of the the soon-to-be-created Middle Branch Waterfront Master Plan. This plan is being led by SBGP along with the City of Baltimore, the Parks and People Foundation, and West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. The plan will design “a network of world-class parks, trails, and public recreation opportunities along the Patapsco River’s 11-mile shoreline in South Baltimore.”

Rendering courtesy of  BCRP, GWWO Architects, and Floura Teeter Landscape Architects (click to enlarge)

Renderings courtesy of  BCRP, GWWO Architects

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