Baltimore County Set to Unveil $6.1 Million Facelift at Robert E. Lee Park

… Upgrades include boardwalk, new dog park …

By Jon Meoli,

5:56 PM EDT, October 10, 2011

Nearly two years after Baltimore County took over Robert E. Lee Park from the Baltimore City government, the county is ready to open its newly renovated public space to the public.

The county will hold a ceremonial opening at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, followed by a day of activities sponsored by the Robert E. Lee Park Nature Council on Saturday, Oct. 15, that will help park patrons get acquainted with the newly formed council and its activities.

Though there was no cost involved when the county assumed control of the 415-acre park in December of 2009, county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said the total project cost for the county was $6.1 million.

Robert E. Lee Park is located generally between Falls road on its west side stretching over to Bellona Avenue south of Ruxton on its east side.

Barry Williams, director of the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks, said old fans of the park will notice that the park is much more open than it used to be.

“We’ve taken down some of the older structures and dead trees,” Williams said after a visit to the park last week. “A lot of trees had been engulfed by invasive vegetation, so we’ve been clearing that up.”

Williams also highlighted a new, three-tenths mile boardwalk from the Falls Road light rail station, at Railroad Avenue, that brings visitors on a scenic walk through the woods on their way to the lake — and ends at a newly paved access road and the slate-roofed facilities building, which features restrooms and will soon be the park ranger’s station.

“I anticipate that there will be a lot of people using the boardwalk, coming in via the light rail or parking there on their own,” said Peter Mahoney, president of the Robert E. Lee Nature Council. “I think it’s a wonderful entrance to the park. I couldn’t imagine it being any better.”

Other new features include a new pedestrian bridge, which spans Roland Run just features a stamped concrete deck and decorative metal guardrails, and an expanded lakeside parking lot.

“Generations of county residents have enjoyed the park, and our investment brings new life to this local treasure, said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in a statement.

Those involved with the park are excited about the new dog park, Paw Point.

Paw Point provides 1.5 acres of enclosed space for registered dogs to roam free, and features a flight of stone steps down to Lake Roland so that dogs can enjoy easy access to water.

“Not many dog parks have the opportunity to get water access, so this is going to be unique,” Mahoney said. “It has a nice ambience to it.”

An introduction to the park and its rules will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Park patrons can purchase a membership to the park for $35, a membership that runs until the end of 2012 and is good for up to two licensed, properly vaccinated dogs.

While Williams said the nature council will handle the dog park, he emphasized that the county will enforce dog leash laws outside Paw Point.

“Traditionally, folks have taken their dogs off their leash and the dog owners believe their dogs are fine, but there are other people who use the park who are not dog lovers, and there have been some challenges in the past,” Williams said.

But to residents who frequented the park before its renovation, much of the natural charm of the area and Lake Roland still remain.

“The lake looks great, the dam is flowing the way it should, and it’s all very picturesque,” Williams said. “We’ll be ready next Friday for the grand opening.”

Robert E. Lee Park reopening activities

Saturday, Oct. 15

Bird Watching

Noon — Bird Watching Walk led by experts from Baltimore Birding Club. Bring binoculars.

Biking Tour

11:30 a.m. — Bike Tour will include a map of the bike trail and rules for biking. Bring off-road bicycle and helmet

Boating Tour

Noon-1 p.m. and 1:30-2 p.m. — Canoe Lake Roland with an experienced guide. Bring own canoe or kayak, life jacket and paddles. Some canoes and kayaks will be available. Signed waivers required. Launch by recreation/fishing pier near Lakeside Drive parking lot.

Children’s Activities

11 a.m.-3 p.m. Art projects, music, movement activities and displays of proposed natural play area.

Dog Park Introduction

11 a.m.-3 p.m. — Paw Point invites new members with an introduction to the dog park and its rules. Dog tags indicating proper shots and licenses will be required. Limited to two dogs per person. All dogs must be leashed outside of Paw Point dog park. Paid memberships are required to use the dog park and will be sold on site. Cash or check only.

Hiking Tours

12:30-1:30 p.m. and 2-3 p.m. — Hike the main park hiking trail with an experienced guide.

Walking Tours

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Family walk pointing out flora, both local and invasive

Noon-1 p.m. — Historical walk highlighting historical, cultural and architectural features

1-2:30 p.m. — Exploring the Serpentine Area and its unique qualities

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