Robert E. Lee Park is owned by the city but located in Baltimore County. That's been part of its problem and now its possible salvation. The county has graciously agreed to take on improvements for the neglected park and is seeking state funds for the project. In exchange, the city will grant the county a long-term lease free of charge. Mayor Sheila Dixon has gotten off easy. This is one she owes County Executive James T. Smith Jr.
Improvements are expected to cost as much as $6 million in part because a footbridge at the heavily used south entrance of the 400-acre park is unsafe and has been closed since summer. Baltimore didn't have the park at the top of its repair list, but the park at the county-city line off Falls Road is so popular with dog owners that areas of parkland have the distinct taint of its four-legged patrons.
Mr. Smith deserves credit for making the effort to keep the park pedestrian- and canine-friendly. Fixing the bridge, improving the trails at Robert E. Lee, correcting erosion problems and building an area for dogs to roam depend on state approval of a $3 million bond bill, which would help finance the repairs. But that's the price of preserving this piece of green space for county voters and their tail-wagging friends.
What's that saying about not biting the hand that feeds you? Mr. Smith is keenly aware that catering to man's best friends goes a long way with their masters.