Riverside Park Athletic Facilities Now Open: Photo Tour

| June 19, 2024 | 0 Comments

The athletic facilities at Riverside Park have reopened. The City’s contractor McDonnell Landscape, LLC competed the $2,360,000 project.

This project, which has been delayed several times, was originally slated to start in 2014. Construction starting dates were also targeted in 2019 and 2020. Environmental assessments began on this project in early 2020.

This project was made possible by Baltimore City Recreation & Parks (BCRP) purchasing a triangular-shaped piece of land located beyond the outfield fences of Hap Hall Memorial Field from CSX for $300,000 in May 2018.

A Riverside Park Master Plan was created by BCRP in 2010 that outlined improvements for the 17-acre park in the Riverside Neighborhood of South Baltimore. Phase One of this plan was implemented in 2012 before the Star-Spangled Sailabration. The historical portions of the park were renovated with new pathways, lights, trash cans, and benches. The site is associated with the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812 and was known as Fort Lookout.

The current Phase Two improved the athletic facilities at Riverside Park. BCRP has $900,000 to renovate the red field house, and that project is still under construction.

The 868 sq. ft., one-story red field house was once a recreation center that used to host dances for youth in the community. The building has been used in recent years for storage. Its bathrooms in the rear of the building are not functional.

The field house has a new roof, but the rest of the building will be gutted and reconfigured with new HVAC, plumbing, and electric. Two unisex bathrooms will be moved to the front of the building facing the path, and a 428 sq. ft. concessions room will be added with a window facing the front of the building. The field house will have a mechanical room, two storage rooms in the concession area, and two storage rooms accessible from the exterior of the building.

The patio in front of the field house will be improved and include a seating area overlooking the fields. There will be table seating, a seating wall along the sides of the building, bike racks, and a shade structure. The concession room will not have a full kitchen and it will be used for mostly for fundraisers.

BCRP used the land acquired from CSX to expand Hap Hall Memorial Field, which is used for baseball and softball, and to create a wider playing field for soccer and football towards the eastern end of the field.

The fields are now surrounded in new fencing and there is a new right field fence for Hap Hall Memorial Field, but not a left field fence. Concrete bleachers have been built into the hill facing the fields, a new stairway has been added, and a ramp was constructed for ADA access.

A new full-size basketball court and a pickle ball court were built. The pickle ball court was added to the plan in 2020. These courts replace a recently-demolished, non-full-size basketball court and an adjacent second court that was without baskets for many years. This area was used for skateboarding and pickle ball in recent years.

Just south of the basketball court is a  bio-retention area. Another bio-retention area was built in the southeast corner of the park below a Baltimore City garage.

A new path system was constructed so visitors can walk around the athletic facilities. This includes an extension of the sidewalk along Johnson St. until it hits E. Wells St. and a new path that connects E. Wells St. to Covington St.

Jackson Fisher, who coordinates activities for the Friends of Riverside Park, a subcommittee of Riverside Neighborhood Association, provided updates to SouthBMore.com.

Phase Three will address the additional three-acre area south of the softball field on the old CSX property. Fisher noted this phase has not yet been planned and has no dedicated funding at this time.

Fisher also said a renovation of the pool could precede Phase Three. The State of Maryland has already allocated design funds for this project.

Due to regulations placed on dog parks, Fisher said they were unable to find a location in the park for one. Dog parks have to be a certain distance from residences, which is a challenge as the park is surrounded on three sides by homes. Dog parks must also be placed on a flat surface to avoid contaminated run-off.

Some cosmetic improvements were made to Riverside Park Pool in 2019 thanks to a $49,500 grant from the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP) and a volunteer effort from Riverside Neighborhood Association and residents in the South Baltimore community.

In 2018, sidewalk bump-outs were completed around Riverside Park. The Baltimore City Department of Transportation designed the project for traffic calming and pedestrian safety. The bump-outs were installed along Johnson St. at Barney St., Heath St., and Randall St., and along Randall St. at Riverside Ave., Covington Ave., Jackson St., and Webster St.

Two exercise equipment areas were added to Riverside Park in 2019.

BCRP’s Sports Turf Management renovated and moved into the the service building and maintenance yard in the southeast corner of the park in 2020.

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Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.