Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake outlined four broad goals Monday for her remaining 15 months in office, including financing $136 million in improvements for recreation centers and pools and ensuring that the $1 billion school construction plan is executed correctly.
Rawlings-Blake — who stunned many last week when she announced she wouldn't seek re-election — said she also wants to cooperate with the U.S. Department of Justice in its investigation of the city Police Department. A fourth goal is to continue to work to bring more jobs to the city, she said.
The mayor hasn't set any firm benchmarks for what success means in each of those categories through the end of her term, saying, "I just made the announcement on Friday." She said choosing not to run for re-election will allow her to focus on healing the city without having all her decisions viewed through a political lens.
Rawlings-Blake has been pushing for the City Council to schedule a hearing to consider the sale of four city-owned parking garages to raise an estimated $60 million toward her plan for improvements to rec centers, pools and parks. No hearing has been scheduled.
She and Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young have clashed over how to finance the rec centers. He wants to sell the city-owned Hilton Hotel to raise money, and also favors the creation of two large centers on the east and west sides.
Rawlings-Blake has faced some criticism for her plan, launched three years ago, to close a handful of centers and turn others over to private groups to run. But the mayor says those decisions have put the city in the financial position to provide richer opportunities for city youths. Last summer the $4.4 million Morrell Park center opened. It was the first new rec center built in a decade.
Under her capital plan, she wants to rehab or build 11 fitness and wellness centers, renovate five community centers and upgrade four outdoor sports centers and four pools, among other projects.
"Baltimore's residents deserve top-quality recreation, and that is what I am going to fight for," Rawlings-Blake said Monday. "And hopefully, taking the politics out of the decision will help get us there."
The mayor said she's also focused on working with community partners to make sure the $1 billion used to renovate or build about two dozen schools will be done in a manner that allows the schools to help stabilize neighborhoods.
"There are too many people in Annapolis who didn't want to see us get the billion dollars and aren't wishing us well," Rawlings-Blake. "I want to make sure we get this right."
Rawlings-Blake said she's bringing together various city agencies, including planning, recreation and parks, transportation and housing, to "ensure that these schools are the true community anchors that they can be."
The mayor brushed off questions about her future, saying, "The sky's the limit. The possibilities are endless when I think about what's next. I also know the time for me to think about that is not now.
"During this next 15 months, there'll be plenty of opportunity for me to figure out what's next."
She left open the possibility that she might run for another office but did not disclose what position she might be interested in or when she might run.
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