Baltimore needs more than a new downtown park

Downtown should not only go green, it should be the center of a vibrant city-wide open space network. In suggesting Baltimore should have a leading edge central park that connects surrounding neighborhoods and business areas, Tom Wilcox ("Downtown should go green," Dec. 7) has acknowledged the elephant in the room.

The recreation of downtown has greatly improved the economic health of the city. Now it's time to make it an exciting, cheerful and physically healthy place to work, live, visit and play. Creating a central park where people can take time out to reflect, relax and socialize in an unencumbered environment is a necessary first step, and making it a transit center is important too. Yet, are these sufficient to meet the needs of the city? I think not.

The benefits of a future Baltimore central park are not limited to downtown Baltimore. It must be a nexus of a dynamic Baltimore city park system linking every city neighborhood and business district to downtown and one another. The health, safety and environmental benefits will be tangible, and connecting neighborhoods will benefit small business and recreate the social fabric of the city.

Yet, a park system does not come automatically. It takes great vision and focused action. That is the importance of the need to ensure the open space zoning code proposed in the city's new zoning code is done right and to emphasize the need to expand and preserve park and other open space areas. In this respect, we need to make land use an equal partner with air and water in the three-legged stool of building a sustainable city economy.

Howard Aylesworth, Baltimore

The writer is a founding member of the Greater Baltimore Parks and Recreation Alliance.

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