Hillside Park. A Green Space for All.
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The Campaign for a Transformational Opportunity
Imagine a new green space in the heart of north Baltimore: Hillside Park. A park for strolling, jogging, dog walking, playground play, and sledding in the winter. A park for field sports and nature walks and possible educational and recreational partnerships with nearby schools.
A park that would be a democratic space where people of all races, religions, and generations could gather. A park of convenient location, close to public transportation. A new kind of city park, community-owned and maintained, but open, inclusive and equitable, shaded by a canopy of hundreds of century-old trees.
The Greater Roland Park community has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create just such a park. The Baltimore Country Club (BCC) has invited the community to bid on the purchase of 20 surplus acres of its former golf course. We are grateful for this opportunity and appreciate that the club has worked collaboratively with us.
The land is in the middle of the city, near its northern border – east of Falls Road, with the southern boundary at Hillside Road, and the northern boundary at Plover Lane. (The historic clubhouse at the top of the property is not included in the sale.)
Hillside Park would be designed in the style of Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect of Central Park, whose sons planned much of the Roland Park community. The Olmsteds’ designs embraced existing topography, using winding paths and maintaining a naturalistic style. The family created urban retreats to sooth the soul, inspire creativity, and encourage people to engage with one another.
Climate change is already affecting Baltimore City. Keeping these 20 acres as open greenspace would have a positive effect on the city’s carbon footprint, its air quality, the Jones Falls watershed, and the Chesapeake Bay.
Purchase of this land is one of the highest priorities listed in the 2010 Greater Roland Park Master Plan (GRPMP). Hillside Park can be an invaluable asset to the people of Baltimore City, not just now, but for generations to come. As we move to create a winning bid for the land, we need your support. Join us!
How You Can Help Now
Resources & Press
We will provide regular updates on the Hillside Park campaign via the Roland Park e-letter. Click here to sign up for the e-letter.
If you have specific questions or would like more information, please contact [email protected].
or 410.464.2533. We welcome your questions and input!
Letters of Support
Excitement about the Hillside Park project is growing, as is our list of supporters in the Greater Roland Park community and beyond:
1. Why is a park in this location important?
Parks and greenspaces have never been more important. According to a recent National Parks and Recreation survey, 83 percent of adults have found exercising at local parks, trails and open spaces essential to maintaining their mental and physical health during the pandemic. In the current Trust for Public Land National Park Score, Baltimore ranks 58th in the nation (https://www.tpl.org/city/baltimore-maryland). Furthermore, this area of Baltimore has been identified by TPL as one that needs a park (https://parkserve.tpl.org/mapping/index.html?CityID=2404000). Hillside Park has the potential to be a blueprint for urban community wellness, preserving and transforming open space in Baltimore for the enjoyment and benefit of its citizens.
2.When does a bid need to be submitted?
BCC has hired a broker to handle the sale of the property. We are waiting for the listing, and the bids will be due about 60 days after the property is officially put up for sale.
3.Who is the community competing with to purchase the land? What else could go on the land?
There will be housing developers competing to purchase the land. The land is zoned R1-D, which means approximately 50 single family houses, a church, or a school could be built on the land as a matter of right under our zoning laws. It would require a change in zoning to allow commercial business, townhouses or apartments.
4.How much will it cost?
The broker will not publish an asking price. The closest comparable land sale is a recent one involving the property of the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart to Boys Latin in February 2020. Boys Latin paid $5.5 million dollars for 28 acres, plus a 40,000 square foot building. Nothing is an exact comparison, but we think this does give a ballpark idea about where our bid needs to be. Boys Latin was competing against housing developments. That land, in the Poplar Hill neighborhood, has steep slopes like the BCC property.
5.Who will own the new park?
The new park will be open to the public and owned by the community. Examples of this type of arrangement in Baltimore include Sherwood Gardens in Guilford and Pierce’s Park on Pier V.
6.How will the land/park be maintained?
The Roland Park Roads and Maintenance organization has been responsible for maintaining the green spaces in our community for more than 100 years. The annual budget for RPRM is more than $100,000. We have an estimate for maintaining the parkland, which we confirmed with BCC. We have a budget for our maintenance endowment. Roland Park would hire an outside landscaping company to maintain the space.
7.What will the hours of the park be?
The park will follow the guidelines of other Baltimore City parks and be open from dawn to dusk. The parking area will be closed at dusk.
8. What happens if we don’t get the land?
If we don’t have the winning bid, and can’t buy the land, all pledges are void, and all donations will be returned.