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The Dripby Mark Reutter12:09 pmMay 2, 20120

Inside City Hall: Yea to dog park, nay to rec center

Six months ago, more than 100 children and adults from the Crispus Attucks Recreation Center flooded into the monthly meeting of the Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, protesting the possible closing of their West Baltimore facility.

They vastly outnumbered – and most certainly out-talked – three members of Friends of Patterson Park Dog Park Canton Dog Park [see correction in comments below] who had come to advocate for their cause.

In the last 24 hours, the fate of each group has become clear.

Late yesterday, the Rawlings-Blake administration announced that Crispus Attucks would be one of four rec centers that will close after the conclusion of summer camp on August 10.

This morning, the Board of Estimates, controlled by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, approved Rec and Park contract 11870 to build a fenced-in dog park at Patterson Park.

The $195,000 contract, awarded to DSM Properties LLC, will create a 220-by-60 foot dog park on the west side of Linwood Ave., replacing two poorly-maintained tennis courts at the site.

Long a dream of the Friends group, the park will include a large dog and small dog unit, each with its own water source, plus a mix of asphalt pavement, boulders and artificial turf for canines to run around.

Another feature will be a stone bridge over a small pond, plus trees to provide shade for those hot summer evenings. It will be the second city-designed dog park (the first, at Locust Point’s Latrobe Park, opened in 2009).

Crispus Attucks has been fixture of the Madison Park area of West Baltimore for more than 40 years.  Activities at the center include football, lacrosse, soccer, color guard, track and field, Girl Scouts/Brownies, roller skating, yoga, drama, chess, arts and crafts, ceramics, crochet, jewelry making, needlepoint, pottery, aerobics, martial arts, modeling, nutrition classes, water aerobics, weight training, dance and computer classes, according to the Rec and Parks website.

It also hosts Great Science for Girls, a program funded through the National Science Foundation.

According to rec bureau chief Bill Tyler, the average annual price of operating a city rec center is $181,790. If Crispus Attucks fits the average, the cost of its yearly programs and upkeep come to 7% less than building the new dog park, which is expected to open this fall.

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