The public now has greater access to Baltimore's waterfront.
About 150 community members, business leaders and city officials watched yesterday as Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke cut a blue ribbon, officially opening the entrance to the new Harris Creek Park Pedestrian Bridge in Canton.
The 120-foot wooden bridge connects the waterside of the Anchorage Tower to Harris Creek Park, at Boston and O'Donnell streets.
Construction of the bridge is part of the continuing Baltimore Waterfront Promenade construction. The project is intended ultimately to provide 7.5 miles of continuous walkway around the outskirts of the Inner Harbor from Canton to Key Highway.
"This is a city, government and community effort," Schmoke said. "It's great to work with people who are willing to roll up their shirt sleeves not for a short period of time, but for however long it takes."
The $90,000 bridge adds new life to the desolate park, which is covered with gravel and has only a few trees, said Roxanne Ward Zaghab, executive director of the Baltimore Harbor Endowment.
The endowment, a non-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization, was established in 1984 to protect, preserve and promote the harbor.
"Water is part of our history," said Ernest Freeman, director of city planning. "The waterfront is the thing that ties the city together."
Freeman said it is important for the public to have access to the water in order to understand and appreciate Baltimore.
"So many cities have turned their backs on their harbors," Freeman said. "But Baltimore had the foresight to anticipate that public access to the water needs to be protected."
Designs for a $987,000 Signage Project to complement the walkway were also revealed at yesterday's ceremony. A variety of signs will give citizens directions to areas along the promenade, reveal a history of the city, its harbor or communities or display some form of art.
As part of the promenade project, the endowment will try to emulate the success of an earlier "Buy-A-Brick Campaign," in which 2,000 engraved bricks were sold at $50 each and laid at Belt's Landing in Fells Point in May.
For example, sections of the pier will be set aside for "Baltimore's Best" categories, which will identify individuals as "best" mothers, doctors, golfers and lovers.
By June 1, the endowment hopes to sell 5,000 of the 10,000 engraved bricks to pave the Broadway Pier after it is restructured in October. The $980,000 cost of the pier's revitalization should be offset by about $3 million expected to be raised from brick sales, Zaghab said. The money will be used to maintain the promenade and continue improvements along the Baltimore shoreline.
"There's a definite interest in what we're doing here," said Robert W. Hearn, commissioner of housing and community development and chairman of the Promenade Task Force. "All parties want to make this work."
Zaghab said the entire promenade should be connected by June 1992.