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Edmondson Heights Elementary principal works with community to provide recreation

Basketball

David Proudfoot's mother grew up in Edmondson Heights and was part of the first graduating class at Edmondson Heights Elementary, so the first-year principal of Edmondson Heights Elementary School is familiar with the area in the shadow of Interstate 70 and a short distance from the Baltimore City line.

"The community and the neighborhood has always been near and dear to our family," Proudfoot said, "so it's exciting and it's an honor to be here."

As he approaches the end of his first year at the helm of the school, he hasn't limited himself to working with teachers, students and parents.

He has also reached out to civic associations in the area, figuring out ways to better serve the community.

"We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them, so we need to work hand-in-hand with each other, and provide each other with resources and support each other," Proudfoot said.

Recently, Proudfoot replaced missing rims on basketball courts at the school, which had been taken down because games on the courts were going on late at night and disturbing the neighbors.

"They were coming during the day and late at night and would play loud music and turn their headlights on," said Kathy King, a member of the Edmondson Heights Civic Association on the unwelcome noise and activity. "So the [civic association] voted to have the basketball rims removed."

King, who has lived in the area since 1982, said she appreciated Proudfoot's willingness to attend their meetings and listen to their input.

"He's very familiar with the community, and has a personal investment, not just a professional investment, in making the community part of the school," King said. "He is someone we feel we can rely on."

"He just had a demeanor about him of being approachable, which I think is key. He made it clear that he wanted to hear about the community and listen to us," she said.

After years without rims, the association decided it was time to bring them back.

Neighborhood children and adults need a place where they can informally meet and exercise, King said.

"Rather than having kids play in the street, we looked at how we could bring back informal recreation space," King said. "Recreation doesn't have to be formal."

Working with county and community groups, Proudfoot had the rims reinstalled.

"Listening to [the Edmondson Heights Civic Association] and hearing the impact that it has on our community, I worked alongside [Baltimore County Parks and Recreation], the [Baltimore County Police Department] and the community association and came to the conclusion that it was a good move to at least try it, monitor it closely and have a structure in place to make sure it's a safe environment," Proudfoot said.

So far, giving the community a space to play basketball has been a positive change, King said.

"I've witnessed people having a good time, people using the court, people playing and people coming together," Proudfoot said.

Proudfoot said there has been extra trash, which is expected when there are large groups of people congregating in one area, but the groups have worked with the county to get that issue addressed.

Baltimore County Parks and Recreation put two trash cans by the courts, to solve the issue of loose trash on the ground, Proudfoot said.

Officer Brenda Binns-Clarke, of the Woodlawn Precinct, has been assigned to the area and said she has been patrolling the area to make sure everyone is following the rules.

"There hasn't been a very big concern — it's been working out fine," Binns-Clarke said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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