City approves $318K for temporary fixes to Federal Hill park

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Photo via Councilman Eric Costello’s Facebook page.

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates this morning approved $318,000 for the repair of Federal Hill Park after a part of the eastern slope eroded away in December.

Of that, $150,000 comes from the state and $118,000 from the Baltimore Casino Local Development Council, an advisory board in the mayor’s office that consults on spending local impact funds and other casino revenue.*
Adam Boarman, chief of capital development for the Department of Recreation and Parks, said the funds will go toward temporarily stabilizing the hillside as the agency works with engineers and the Maryland Historical Trust to develop a longterm plan.

Workers are currently removing any loose soil and sediment, installing slope drains and adding shelves into the slope that will be back-filled with stone, he said. Boarman estimated the temporary measures would take about four months to complete.

“It seems to be stabilizing,” he said. “We’ve removed a good portion of the loose material. We’ve redirected some of the stormwater drains and placed some covering over the more unstable portions on the top to protect it from more rain and erosion.”

The slippage is likely the result of damaged water lines that run below ground and excess stormwater; last year was the wettest on record, with the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport recording 71.82 inches of rain.

“The general consensus is there’s leaky utilities in this area, and that’s part of this process, is to locate those and either replace or repair them,” said Boarman.

There is a series of tunnels that run underneath the park, but Boarman said the department and Maryland Historical Trust used a ground-penetrating radar to look below the surface of and found there weren’t any in the affected area.

What a lot of people don’t realize, he said, is the hill is man-made, with the original jagged cliffs covered over with sand, silt and clay to form the angled lawns most people recognize today.

“There’s a lot going on beneath the surface.”

At the time of the erosion, officials said the rainfall exacerbated problems in the hill that had already been witnessed and reported by residents. An email chain viewed by Baltimore Fishbowl showed Federal Hill neighbors had raised concerns about the condition of the park. Before that, they flagged holes appearing on the hillside, deep cracks in the sidewalk at the end of Warren Avenue overlooking the park and buckling flex posts.

Boarman said the agency reported its findings to the community association last week and will continue to provide updates.

“They’re up to speed on what’s happening and we’ll continue to keep them informed.”

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership contributed $118,000 toward fixing the hill. Baltimore Fishbowl regrets the error.

Brandon Weigel

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