Fells Point residents pool cash, sweat to fix pier playground


There hasn't been a lot of play on top of the Broadway Recreation Pier lately; the old swings were broken and splintered and had to be taken out about five years ago.

But yesterday, local homeowners and a crew of volunteer union carpenters were sweating in the afternoon sun to erect a new playground, a $2,400 project paid for with a city neighborhood incentive grant and private money.

Much of the muscle needed to saw through 6-inch-by-6-inch beams was donated by the Carpenters District Council No. 101 of the AFL-CIO, a freebie that came after Virginia Baker, the city recreation department's fun czar, made a call.

Other labor needed to put up swings, net climbers and geodesic monkey bars was provided by volunteers from the Fells Point Homeowners' Association. Breakfast was sent down from Jimmy's Restaurant and Attman's donated lunch.

The carpenters were needed to saw and nail together beams for wooden pontoons. Because the city advised against bolting the swing sets and sliding board to the pier's concrete deck, the pontoons were laid to hold them.

By late yesterday afternoon, much of the work was finished with one more Saturday of labor needed to have the playground ready for the squeals of children. On June 28, the playground will be dedicated in honor of I. Pearl "Willie" Williams, who pioneered public playgrounds in Baltimore in the early 1900s.

Miss Williams was a mentor to Virginia Baker and a generation of other leaders who came up through the ranks of Baltimore's playgrounds."It thrills me that we have parents around here helping and giving their cash instead of yelling, 'We pay taxes, give us something,' " Miss Baker said.

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