After a yearlong, $1.9 million stabilization project, residents and city and state officials rededicated Federal Hill Park last night.
The ceremony coincided with the Federal Hill Business Association's annual free concert.
Speeches and a tree planting preceded the evening's main attraction, a performance by the Zim Zemarel Orchestra."[The park] is special to the city and community," said Sonny Morstein, president of the South Baltimore/Federal Hill Business Association. "We are very concerned with it and its health."
Morstein, interviewed before the ceremony, added that holding the concert and rededication simultaneously was the result of good timing. "We do this [concert] as a thank-you to our community," he said.
During the rededication ceremony, Morstein called the park "the crown jewel" of Federal Hill and South Baltimore.
"If anybody wants to know what makes Baltimore special ... let them come to the park. Let them take in the view," Morstein said, as the setting sun bathed the city below in gold and pink light.
State Sen. George W. Della Jr., who was instrumental in securing state funding for the project, Deputy Mayor David Scott and city Director of Public Works George L. Winfield applauded the efforts to save Federal Hill Park.
The men helped plant two trees in honor of the rededication. Everyone in attendance was given a slip of paper to write notes about the park, which were included in a time capsule buried near the trees.
The construction was the second major stabilization effort at the hill during the past decade, said Kurt Kocher, a Department of Public Works spokesman. "They rebuilt slopes and stabilized the hill," Kocher said.
Portions of sandy, unstable soil were solidified by rock and topsoil, and a more extensive drainage system was installed. City officials and neighborhood residents hope that the latest renovation will help curb erosion of the park, which was on the brink of collapse.