Councilman: Here’s the next step in redevelopment of Pikesville Armory | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
Jan 10, 2020 | 3:22 PM
Ever since it became clear that the state of Maryland and its Military Department determined that the Pikesville Armory was no longer needed in the state’s inventory of assets, many good people began to discuss how this 14-acre parcel could be re-purposed for a sorely needed community use in the heart of Pikesville, while respecting the historical significance of the buildings on the site. Howard Needle and Mel Mintz led the charge through an organization they formed, 1000 Friends of Pikesville (“Give Catonsville credit for first arts and entertainment district, but Pikesville could be next,” Dec. 25).
Gov. Larry Hogan created a commission to form a unified vision for the site. Over the course of a year, various advocacy groups, each passionate for their causes, came together to form a joint vision. Once a shared vision was established, a group, called “The Alliance,” was formed to shape viability, framework, implementation and cost realities. A design consultant was hired to steer the process and to move this grassroots effort to the next level.
Still, it could be many years before we have a complete community project.
In the interim, I believe we should begin with an immediate activation on the courtyard of the Armory in an effort to continue the synergy that has already been created. It doesn’t matter who owns the site right now because the state is the current owner and therefore has the authority to permit public use. How do we do this? We employ a combination of tactical urbanism (low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment intended to improve local neighborhoods and gathering places) and best practices.
To find the best practice, we only have to look to the northwest to Main Street in Reisterstown. Reisterstown has a brilliant track record in many things, but the event that best fits the Pikesville Armory is their Music on Main Street event which runs every Friday night throughout the summer and has done so successfully for many years. A replication of this best practice at the Pikesville Armory could be the spark that creates a strong sense of place.
With the help of the Military Department, we can start in the spring of 2020. The inaugural event could be a “Pikesville International Music and Arts Festival” (adapting best practices from Reisterstown and Catonsville), utilizing just the courtyard on Reisterstown Road. And then on to step two, step three, step four and so on.
Izzy Patoka, Sudbrook Park
The writer, a Democrat, represents District 2 on the Baltimore County Council.