April 23, 2012The Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-BlakeMayor, City of BaltimoreVia email:Dear Madam Mayor:The purpose of this letter is to reach out to you and your administration at a time of budgetarycrisis to lend leadership and support on
an issue near and dear to our hearts: Baltimore City’s children.
In 2008, our Recreation and Parks Advisory Board adopted a work program that outlined what
we thought would become a guide to developing policies and standards to direct the Department’s
future. We asked for a meeting with you in order to see if our suggestions were in line with yourthinking and vision. Instead met with Deputy Mayor Kaliope Parthemos, who did not provide us with avision or a proactive plan.Since our Advisory Board was appointed four years ago, the Department of Recreation andParks has had three Directors and faced at least three budget reductions. Last year, the citizens of Baltimore were threatened with recreation facility closures right before the height of the summerseason. This year, seven of thirteen pools are slated for closing. While we certainly understand thedemands of a budgetary crisis, we are concerned that the continued threats to our recreation and parkssystem send the wrong message to our citizens about our priorities, particularly when the Departmentof Recreation and Parks is already in a precarious position. Rather than placing the department underattack, we are suggesting that we use this crisis to galvanize support from the public, corporate and non-profit sectors by implementing a strategy designed to unify our city around delivery of critical services toour children, while protecting their access to pools this summer.At our meetings on the third Wednesday evening each month , we listen as staff presentsmarginal program successes despite reductions in staff and resources. We listen to residents whoexpress frustration over a department that is not meeting community needs. Enough is Enough!!!!As you know, our most recent Director left the position just after two years. And while thededicated staff continue to do great work, we believe that the lack of sustained leadership of theDepartment, coupled with a lack of sustained support by local government, have been an issue for twodecades, threatening to destabilize the few successes that we have been able to achieve. Our childrencannot afford it. Our City cannot afford it. Enough is Enough!!Therefore, we are putting forth our recommendations along with our commitment to supportyou and your administration in their implementation:1. We recommend that the $1.27 million allocated to Baltimore City Recreation and Parks fromProgram Open Space(POS) be used
in the 2013 Operating Budget to improve and supportpools.2. We recommend that the remainder of the POS funds be used to plan, design and buildsplash pads to replace what staff might determine as antiquated and unsafe walk-to pools.