December 15 2007

One Park: A Vision for Baltimore

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One Park is a visionary master plan for creating a network of interconnected parks, boulevards, bike paths, and pedestrian ways throughout the city of Baltimore. The plan was conceived by the Parks and People Foundation of Baltimore as a way to "(allow every citizen) to benefit from a green network of open space." Their goals are to: address public health needs, improve environmental health, unify diverse citizenry and neighborhoods, enhance aesthetics, and market open spaces to users.

The master plan maps are available on the Parks and People website and are arranged in a quasi chronological conceptual order which illustrates how the project would come together.

A recent blog posting on Audacious Ideas discusses the need and relevance of the One Park strategy. The post tells a heartfelt yet practical narrative about the plan and its implementation. Below is a snippet from the original post by Steve Ziger.

?Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men?s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.?
Daniel Burnham, 1846-1912, architect and urban visionary

Imagine a Baltimore where everyone lived within a few blocks of a park. Where you could walk easily throughout the city in a safe green network that connects school playgrounds, tree-lined boulevards, community gardens, college campuses, public golf courses, recreational areas and parks. As you walked, people would be commuting on bicycle trails or participating in marathons. Children would plant and care for trees as a part of their environmental curriculum. Neighbors would grow their own vegetables. Our extensive canopy of trees would provide shade, filter pollution, and help with rainwater.Baltimore would become known as a city in a park, attracting businesses, residents, and visitors.Tax revenues would increase along with property values. Communities would come together. The healthier environment would improve our public health, with cleaner air and water, and lots of great reasons to be outside.

ONE PARK is no little plan. It is a simple vision to inspire and direct the future of our beloved Baltimore.

From these words, I am already imagining myself engaging the One Park system during my daily routine of living in Baltimore. Commuting. Socializing. Exercising. Relaxing.

I grew up in a very pastoral setting in South Louisiana and can attest to the fact that parks do not solve issues related to wealth inequality, crime, and education. These problems exist in the greenest of communities all over the world and their cause is not the presence or lack of open space.

To me the issue is ?quality of life.? In a ?flat? globalized world, cities and regions must compete openly for all available resources, tangible and intangible. ?Quality of life? attracts a human capital, a creative class, which directly feeds a vibrant local economy.

People do and will have the freedom to relocate to areas they feel are more habitable. Older east coast cities already have dense fabrics, history, and culture which make them attractive places. However, they also have harsh urban landscapes that are hard to escape and detract from their livability.

The One Park vision should be developed and funded because it will make Baltimore a wonderful city in which to live. People will visit and want to return. Residents will decide to stay and invest more of their energy into their community. Businesses will follow. Everyone will benefit.

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