January 24, 2007         


Connie A. Brown                      


Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks

Room 142

3001 East Drive
Baltimore, MD, 21217

(410) 396-6132   Connie.Brown@baltimorecity.gov


Dear Mr. Brown:


We’ve recently been informed by City Councilman Kraft’s Office that the Park on the East side of the unit block of South Durham Street, an area known as 7 South Durham Street, is under the administration and control of the Department of Housing and Community Development.  It’s been a Park for thirty years, and indeed was made into a Park by the City of Baltimore at the time the houses on the West side of Unit Durham were homesteaded for a buck apiece.


When the so-called dollar houses were sold, an agreement was proffered that the parking spaces cut out by the City of Baltimore were to become permanent features of the home properties after two years’ residence by the new owners of the homestead houses, in exchange for rehabbing the houses and continuing to maintain the Park—and now it suddenly appears that our Park may not be considered a park anymore.  This is of particular concern because the recent upsurge of development in the surrounding area puts any city property at a premium.  Sometimes

things get lost in the shuffle—and we feel strongly that this particular plot should not be treated as waste ground to be parceled out to high-bidding private investors.  That’s why, after 30 years, we’re coming to you for help.

We propose that the Park be called “Barbara Mikulski’s ‘Urban Experiment at Work’ Park.”  While on the City Council early in her political career, Senator Mikulski was a strong proponent of the dollar house program in Baltimore City—and specifically, we understand, with the development of the Park at 7 South Durham Street and adjacent parking for the residents of the block.  It seems abundantly appropriate to name in her honor a positive feature of the greater Fells Point area that she helped save from destruction, and especially one that embodies particular reforms she espoused.

In the past few years we of the Homestead Houses have invested in many improvements to the Park.  Magnolia trees have been planted, existing trees have been cleared of choking vines, bushes and shrubs have been planted and trimmed, mortared stone wall borders have been added to the North and South flowerbeds of the green space, and costly repairs have been made to the ironwork fencing and to the chain-link fence separating the Durham Street Park from the backs of Wolfe Street properties.  The Park is enjoyed not only by Homestead Houses residents but by our neighbors in Washington Hill; dog owners, in particular, seem to value a convenient space where their pets can walk on earth instead of pavement.[1]

The neighborhood of Unit South Durham Homestead Houses has demonstrated its commitment to maintaining—and beautifying—the Park, and to its continued existence as a “model alley” neighborhood in Baltimore City.  To help focus our recent efforts to make the Park permanent we have benefited from generous time and advice from Councilman Jim Kraft’s office, from Marco Cocito-Monoc of the Southeast Community Development Corporation, from Chrissa Carlson and Chris Delaporte of Parks and People Foundation,  from Randy Capone of the Friends of Two Rivers Park in Canton, from Simon Hemby of Citizens for Washington Hill, and from Betty Hyatt.  We appreciate your consideration of our appeal and the attached letters of support, and look forward to your assistance in having 7 South Durham Street transferred to the jurisdiction of Recreation and Parks, in order to protect an urban oasis for the benefit of all our neighbors.  Should you need further information please contact our liaison, Ken Piaskowski of Mayopia Productions LLC, 12 South Durham Street, at 410-241-8065.



_____________________________              _____________________________

Glendora L. Finch                                             Jerry Withers, C.P.A.

6 South Durham Street                         20 (20-22) South Durham Street

(Original Homesteader)                         (Owner since 2005)

410-767-1687 (until 3 p.m.)                             24 (24-26) South Durham Street

410-276-5101 (evenings)                                 (Owner since 2001)



_____________________________              _____________________________

Lorie A. Mayorga, J.D.                                    Nancy West, M.S.

12 (12-14) South Durham Street                      28 South Durham Street          

(Owner since 1992)                                          (Owner since 2001)

410-767-1855 (office)                                     410-327-9167

410-537-5011 (home)


_____________________________              _____________________________

Calvin Brooks                                                  Patrick T. Boyle, A.A.S.

16 (16-18) South Durham Street                      30 South Durham Street

(Original Homesteader)                         (Owner since 1987)




Avon Kendrick

10 (8-10) South Durham Street                                   

(Owner since 2004--nonresident)


[1] Also, Housing and Community Development is willing to transfer the property at a price that could easily be met.