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Luckman Park in Mount Washington undergoing renovation

Baltimore City's Irvin Luckman Memorial Park in Mount Washington is getting an $880,00 facelift.

Built in the 1960s and named for a resident who was active in the community, the 5.3-acre park encompasses more than one city block, bounded by Glen, Rockwood, Merville and Key avenues.

Once a haven for drug dealers, the park on Mount Washington's far west side has had more attention paid to it in recent years. In 2001, then-Mayor Martin O'Malley held a press conference there to announce a $20 million citywide playground safety initiative and plans to build or renovate 49 community and school playgrounds by the end of his term.

The park is being renovated for the first time since then, based on a community master plan, and is due to receive new circular walkways, a decorative wooden shelter called a pergoda with portable bathrooms, and a $200,000, handicapped-accessible "tot lot" with a rubber safety surface, according to Valerine McGuire, a design planner for the city Department of Recreation and Parks.

JLM Construction began work last month, with orders to tear down a dilapidated community building on the site that was thought to be contributing to erosion. The contractor has taken down some dead trees, but will have at least a handful more to remove since last week's storm, McGuire said.

Also to combat erosion, the park will be landscaped with bioswales to absorb surface runoff water, said McGuire and Jason Kortte, park committee chairman for the group Friends of Luckman Park.

"The erosion was horrible," Kortte said, adding that many plantings were washed away.

The park will also have a new set of swings, McGuire said. A play area with equipment for older children is being left there and the park's tennis courts are not being upgraded, although a fence that was crushed by a tree will be replaced, she said.

The park is closed during construction and is expected to reopen in May, 2013, she said.

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