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BALTIMORE COMMUNITY GROUP TO BUY BCC ACREAGE
Plans for New Baltimore City Public Park Unveiled
December 21, 2021. Contact: Anne Stuzin, [email protected] 410-615-0270
BALTIMORE – A new public park is coming to Baltimore City, the first of its size in more than a century. This park is the result of a local community group’s planned purchase of a 20-acre site from the historic Baltimore Country Club.
The transaction marks the culmination of efforts led by the Roland Park Community Foundation (RPCF) to acquire the property, located along Falls Road between Hillside Road and Plover Lane, across from Baltimore Polytechnical Institute and Western High School. It is expected to be open to the public by 2024 and will be called Hillside Park. Purchase price is $9 million.
“Hillside Park is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enhance green space in Baltimore City and protect it as a place to be experienced and enjoyed by the public from across the city forever,” said Mary Page Michel, Chair of the RPCF. “For many years we have worked toward realizing our vision. The pandemic has shown all of us the value of public green spaces and access to nature. By the scope of its fundraising and the perseverance of a dedicated core, this was a collective effort that had all the attributes of a mission.” Most of the large public parks created in Baltimore date to the late 1880s.
Michel added, “When BCC decided to sell the land, I asked if the community could be included. Marty Brunk, the club president, said they would welcome a bid from us, and he kept his word, which we really appreciated. My hope is that this land sale begins a new chapter between the club and the community going forward.”
Over 70% of the acquisition funds have been raised from over 500 donors representing 25 Baltimore City communities, 26 different neighborhoods from Maryland and 16 states. A robust campaign is underway to raise the balance.
Sharon Green Middleton, District 6 Councilwoman said, “This outcome is really what I had hoped for in terms of enhancing public access to green space and recreational opportunities in Baltimore City. I applaud the community’s leadership and commitment to this project, and I am truly excited for the future of Hillside Park.”
Hillside Park will be designed in the style of Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture and famously known for creating New York City’s Central Park. Making park space welcoming to everyone was a major tenet of Olmsted’s designs. In addition to extensive consulting on park spaces in Baltimore in the early 1900s, the Olmsted Brothers firm was instrumental in the layout and development of the neighborhood surrounding the current area to be known as Hillside Park.
The closing of the transaction with BCC will be finalized upon the successful subdivision of the property and remediation of environmental conditions typically existing in older grass tennis courts and older golf course properties.
Following today’s announcement, a public input phase and design process will take place, involving Morgan State University’s Graduate Landscape Architecture students, plus multiple neighborhoods and local schools, with the goal of determining the best ways to create a safe, fun, welcoming public space. Park design will feature passive and active areas- walking paths, open vistas, possible playing fields or other spaces for sports.
In the coming months, a steering group for Hillside Park will be formed, to include key stakeholders committed to the mission and management of the park.
Joint Statement from Roland Park Community Foundation and Baltimore Country Club
“Today, Baltimore Country Club and the Roland Park Community Foundation are pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached to transfer 20 acres of land at Baltimore Country Club’s Roland Park campus from the Club to the Community Foundation for $9 million. The result of this transaction will be a new public park and open green space in Roland Park for everyone to enjoy. We believe it will be the largest public park to open in Baltimore City in over 100 years. The interest from potential buyers in Baltimore Country Club’s property was robust and we are glad that we were able to come to terms that are agreeable to both the Club and the Community Foundation. The closing of the transaction will be finalized upon the successful subdivision of the property and remediation of environmental conditions typically existing in older grass tennis courts and older golf course properties”
– Marty Brunk, President of Baltimore Country Club and Mary Page Michel, Chair of the Roland Park Community Foundation
Hillside Park FAQs
RFP (Request for Proposal) Process
When was the community’s bid submitted?
BCC requested all bids be submitted May 13th, 2021.
What was BCC’s process??
BCC had to evaluate the offers on the property. The contract has been negotiated over the past several months.
Why hasn’t the Foundation provided updates since the initial bid?
Once the Foundation entered exclusive negotiations with BCC, due to the sensitivity of the negotiations, the club requested we sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which prohibited us from discussing any aspect of the sale negotiations, including any progress, or even that the Foundation was under an NDA.
Who has represented the community in the purchase negotiations?
The Foundation Officers have represented the community in direct negotiations with approval of the full RPCF Board of Trustees and considerable input from Hillside Park Committee members. Additionally, a lawyer from Ballard Spahr was involved as legal counsel.
When will the sale close?
The sale will close after the sub-division* and environmental remediation per Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) requirements is complete. This process is likely to take a year or longer.
*Sub-division= the process of splitting the full 32-acre BCC parcel into 2 lots in city records.
Why will it take over a year?
The City follows a formal sub-division review process that requires input from any City agency potentially impacted by the sub-division. Additionally, BCC will follow the remediation requirements of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).
Can the community access the land prior to closing?
No. The contract allows for very limited access, with prior BCC approval.
Is any part of the purchase being financed?
Yes. Since pledges can be paid over a five-year period, the Foundation would not have all the cash required at closing. The Foundation is working with a lender for a loan against outstanding pledges.
What is the sale price and how was this reached?
Sale price is $9 million. Due to strong market demand from developers interested in single-family housing on the property, the price was higher than anticipated. In order to secure the property the RPCF had to increase its bid several times, but did so to protect the land from being developed. Hillside Park will be preserved for generations to come, and that is priceless.
How is the park being paid for?
This is an almost entirely privately-funded project with the exception of state bond bill proceeds to support a potential Poly and Western partnership.
Financing, Pledges and Donations
How much has the Foundation raised so far?
The Foundation has raised two-thirds (around 70%) of the purchase price to date.
When is my pledge due if I made it upon purchase agreement execution?
You may begin to pay your pledge now. The Foundation has a contract with BCC. It is important for the Foundation to start receiving these pledge payments so we are in a strong financial position ahead of closing.
Can I still make a Hillside Park pledge now that there is a contract?
Absolutely! The Foundation will continue to actively fundraise now that we know the purchase price and are no longer subject to the Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Will I receive reminders when my pledge payments are due?
Yes, about one month ahead of your scheduled pledge payment the Foundation will send reminders, via email or USPS.
Now that the sale has been agreed to, what is the time frame for Hillside Park pledges?
Per the Foundation’s financing agreement, it assumes that all pledges will be fully paid by December 2025.
What are the naming and sponsorship opportunities?
Hillside Park offers several Leadership naming opportunities. Contact the Foundation Office if you are interested! [email protected]
Can I set up a recurring donation to provide continuous support?
Yes! Scan the QR code to go directly to our donor webpage Donate
You can also visit this page to see all donation and pledging options.
Park Design and Facilities
What is the vision for the park?
Multi-community input to the Greater Roland Park Master Plan (2011) established the critical importance of buying the BCC property to establish park space and led to the current conceptual drawing. Additional public input regarding Hillside Park design and uses will be solicited during 2022 and beyond. This will be an exciting phase!
Who will have input on the park’s design and uses?
Public input will again drive the design/uses of the park space. A landscape design firm will be retained, with collaboration from Morgan State Landscape Architecture students. Additionally, ideas can be sent to the Foundation at [email protected]
Will the fencing remain or be extended?
BCC reserves the right to install a fence along its property lines.
Can we sled on the hill this winter?
Unfortunately, no! Due to liability concerns it is anticipated that BCC will strictly enforce its no trespassing policy. Out of respect for the cooperation between BCC and the Foundation, we hope neighbors will respect this rule.
When will the park officially open?
The Foundation will not own the park until after closing, which should occur within 30 days after the subdivision is approved and the Club completes the environmental remediation as approved by Maryland Department of Environment (MDE.)
What will the park’s hours be?
Dawn to dusk. This follows hours for all other Baltimore City parks.
Can I walk my dog in the park?
Yes. Once the park is open, dogs will be most welcome in the park, provided they are leashed and their owners pick up after them! Until the purchase is completed, please do not trespass on the BCC property.
Will there be restroom facilities at the park?
Public input and fundraising will determine future elements of Hillside Park design and amenities.
What kind of athletic facilities will be included in the park?
Public input to prioritize sports programming, as well as fundraising, will drive plans. Most of the park will, however, be open, natural space.
Will the City help maintain the park?
No, all on-going park maintenance costs will come from private donations, and be funded through the Foundation, which makes continued fundraising key!