Gwynns Falls Leakin Park is set to get a sizable makeover, with a little bit of help from federal officials.
The U.S. Department of the Interior and National Park Service last week announced it would give $750,000 to the city for “youth campground improvements” at the West Baltimore park. The money will be used to restore a campground dating back to the 1930s that was previously used as a Girl Scout camp, Carrie Wells at the Sun reports.
City Department of Recreation and Parks spokeswoman Roni Marsh wrote in an email that the campground will have more family camping programs and space for groups, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, as well as areas to learn basic camping skills. The campground project is “part of a larger investment” in the park, including a complete redo of the Cahill Recreation Center, which is adjacent to the campground, she said.
WBAL-TV reports that when it’s all said and done, the area will have space for rock climbing, mountain biking and more. Another new piece will include a brand new visitor’s center in the Winans Meadow area (pictured above), Marsh said. That work is being funded by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Program Open Space.
Work on the campground should begin within the next year, according to Marsh.
Many know Leakin Park for its infamous grisly reputation, thanks in no small part to “Serial,” “The Wire” and one local blog chronicling the details of each and every body found there. But as Slate reported several years ago, there’s much more to it, with endless trails, an old mansion and more than 1,200 acres to traverse, among many other amenities.
The federal money being used to revive the campground comes from a source — government offshore oil and gas royalties — that’s very different from its destination. Baltimore is one of 22 cities around the country getting a slice. Those dollars are often used to improve playground accessibility, build canoe and kayak launches and fishing piers, restore vacant land to usable status and other types of renovations, according to a release.
“Every kid deserves the opportunity to get outside and play,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a statement. “Whether it’s downtown Detroit or rural Wyoming, investing in public lands is an investment in communities.”
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