If the Baltimore City Fair returns to its original purpose -- the celebration of neighborhoods -- the community of Waverly might be willing to host the event this year.
Waverly also wants to be financially rewarded for the burden of the three-day fair, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 20, 21 and 22.
"If the fair is much lower key than in the past and the focus is more on neighborhoods and good living in the city, then we would welcome it. We want people to see Waverly as a neighborhood where they might want to live," said K. C. Docie, president of the Waverly Improvement Association. "But if it's more commercial, our attitude would change."
Fair organizers are negotiating with community groups surrounding Memorial Stadium for approval to hold the 22nd annual fair in the 33rd Street parking lot across the street from the stadium.
An Inner Harbor location just south of Little Italy, the site of the Hurricane Hugo-drenched fair of 1989, was rejected because of heavy construction due for that area, and the Mount Clare neighborhood near the B&O Railroad Museum on West Pratt Street was also considered and dismissed before attention turned to Waverly in Northeast Baltimore.
"If [Waverly] doesn't want it, if there's no way we can satisfy their needs . . . we're not going to shove anything down anybody's throat," said Mark Quackenbush, director for this year's fair. "In no way is this a done deal."
Mr. Quackenbush, who said this year's fair will be scaled down to 300,000 square feet compared with a high mark of nearly 900,000 in 1989, has already held talks with the Waverly Improvement Association and the Ednor Gardens-Lakeside Civic Association and intends to talk with two more groups.
The director said he needs to know by April 15 whether Waverly is willing to host the fair.
While the vast expanse of asphalt just west of the now vacant Eastern High School would make it somewhat easy to assemble a fair, Mr. Quackenbush said the site was also selected to focus attention on the redevelopment of Waverly when the Orioles leave Memorial Stadium for Camden Yards at the end of the upcoming baseball season.
"What we're saying to [Waverly] is we'd like to see this as an opportunity to focus on their needs," he said.
Ms. Docie said her group would like to see a special tent or exhibit that spurs discussion about the redevelopment of the stadium site.
Cecilia Firstenberg, president of the Ednor Gardens-Lakeside Civic Association, said she mailed Mr. Quackenbush a letter late last week saying her group supported the idea if three issues were met: a plan that keeps traffic out of residential areas, financial compensation for community organizations that represent the neighborhood, and a prohibition on carnival rides that attract large numbers of teen-agers.
"We want it more family-oriented," Ms. Firstenberg said.
Mr. Quackenbush said the fair would be willing to share parking revenues with community groups if the neighborhood provided volunteers to work on the parking lots.