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Clear plan needed for Baltimore police academy site in Park Heights

The 1904 class of Baltimore police officer trainees go through a morning exercise routine, including leg lifts, push-ups and sit-ups, as they begin their police academy training.
The 1904 class of Baltimore police officer trainees go through a morning exercise routine, including leg lifts, push-ups and sit-ups, as they begin their police academy training. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

For years, the communities of Northwest Baltimore have watched as city leaders debated the future of Baltimore’s police training academy at the site of the old Pimlico Junior High School, at the intersection of Northern Parkway and Park Heights Avenue (“Baltimore officials missed an opportunity by not putting the police academy at Coppin,” Sept. 20).

We have enjoyed seeing police cadets jogging through the neighborhood, joining in community events and frequenting local shops and restaurants, and we were pleased to see that Baltimore had smartly repurposed what would have been another vacant building.

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This fall, as the city prepares to move that training academy to the University of Baltimore, we are left to wonder what’s next for this high profile location (“City spending panel approves $7.5 million relocation of police academy to University of Baltimore,” Sept. 18).

Last spring, shortly after Mayor Jack Young became leader of our city, he spoke to the Baltimore Jewish Council’s Board of Directors and said that if the academy were to move, he would support using the site for a rebuilt Northwestern Police District station, combined with a recreation center to take advantage of the large expanse of adjacent athletic fields.

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Such an idea would keep a law enforcement presence at this key intersection, while offering enhanced opportunities for the neighborhoods. Alternately, as the city looks for locations to build a new police training academy, perhaps this location could be viewed as a possibility, in addition to considering Coppin State’s campus.

What’s most important, is that we need to quickly develop a clear long-term plan for the property that is supported by the many neighborhoods affected by this decision. As Baltimore seeks to promote the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars at nearby Pimlico Race Course, what message would the city be sending to potential investors if it allowed this nearby city-owned site to become another vacant building?

Mayor Young has scheduled a community meeting on the future of this site for 7 p.m. on Oct. 30th at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC. I urge everyone in Northwest Baltimore to consider attending and sharing your views on the importance of this critical location.

Howard Libit

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The writer is executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council.

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