Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake were all smiles as they jointly cut the ribbon to formally re-open Robert E Lee Park on October 14. The park has been undergoing extensive restoration since 2009 when Baltimore County took over management of the park from Baltimore City.
According to Kamenetz, Lake Roland National Historic District and the park had fallen into disrepair. "Like so many good things that happen in our region, its revival began with a group of concerned citizens. Aided by the Ruxton-Riderwood-Lake Roland Area Improvement Association, a partnership among the County, the City, and the State developed to revive this local treasure." Rawlings-Blake called the park "a hidden treasure for the city and county residents alike."
Renovation projects include a new bridge spanning Jones Falls, a paved footpath leading to the site of Acorn Hill, a proposed children's natural play area, and a pedestrian boardwalk connecting the light rail parking lot to the park. Paw Point, a 1 1/2 acre off leash, membership-only dog park, has been completed and is being administered by a group of volunteers. The entrance to the park is on Lakeside Drive off Falls Road, or from the Falls Road MTA parking lot.
Baltimore County is supplying on-site rangers, dawn to dusk year round, to provide nature and environment programs for children and adults, and to ensure that dogs are leashed at all times everywhere in the park except for Paw Point. In addition, various groups that have long used the park such as the Baltimore Bird Club, canoe and kayak enthusiasts, garden clubs, bikers, hikers and runners and those interested in native flora and fauna are busy planning tours and programs.
The all-volunteer Robert E Lee Park Nature Council (RELPNC) welcomed more than 700 people to it's own opening celebration Saturday, October 15 on a picture-perfect autumn day. Moms and dads and children on bikes and in strollers enjoyed making crafts and dancing, and seeing owls, a hawk and turtles. Hikers, bikers, walkers birders and history buffs took tours and explored. And there were all kinds of dogs - all on leads - walking with their owners to Paw Point for a romp or a swim.
RELPNC is dedicated to stewardship of the park and cooperates with the Department of Recreation and Parks in planning and recreation and educational programs and activities. Non-profit 501(c)(3) status for the Nature Council is pending. For more information: RELPNC.org or PawPoint.org.
Want to get involved? The Nature Council meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month in the Jefferson Building, 105 West Chesapeake Avenue in Towson. Their meetings are open to the public.