Reclaiming piece of city

Community wants center

City hopes to continue film and TV production

July 30, 1999|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Before "Homicide: Life on the Street" took over Fells Point's Recreation Pier about seven years ago, Kathy Hermann and other like-minded moms spent afternoons watching their children swing and tumble on what would become Baltimore's most televised landing.

With the police drama canceled, many Southeast Baltimore residents and business owners say the pier and building which served as the show's headquarters should return to commercial and recreational use. They plan to discuss the pier's future and gather public input at a news conference at 11 a.m. Saturday on the pier steps in the 1700 block of Thames St.

The pier was in use as a rec center up until production began for the show, which debuted in 1993.

"We did a lot of things at Rec Pier," said Hermann, 51, who lives in the 800 block of Bond St. "It was a part of our community."

The city, which owns the pier, has other ideas. Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III said last month that the pier will continue to be used for film and television production.

"It's been key to having `Homicide' here as long as it was," said Zach Germroth, a spokesman for the city's housing department. "We're very much interested in keeping that momentum going."

Germroth said there are no plans to meet with community members about the pier.

Rec Pier opened in 1914 at a cost of $1 million to "help satisfy the commercial maritime as well as the recreational needs of the fast growing area of East Baltimore," wrote Hermann's husband, Ralph Bradley, in a booklet about the dock.

The building at the mouth of the pier housed a beautiful ballroom. Outside, the 41,580-square-foot deck was complete with playsets, basketball and tennis courts and sitting areas.

Community organizers and residents have different ideas on what they'd like to see done with the pier post-"Homicide." Suggestions include: rebuilding the play area, fixing the courts and using the garage for parking.

"It's such a huge facility, it could be used for several things," said Tana Paddock, a community organizer for the South East Community Organization.

The organization will hold another community forum at 6: 30 p.m. Aug. 23 at St. Patrick's Church in the 300 block of S. Broadway, to come up with a plan for the pier.

Carrie Frias, 23, who lives at the corner of Bank Street and Collington Avenue, said the community needs a safe play area for children.

Frias said she has spoken to people who credit the pier's activities for keeping their children out of trouble.

"It was a safe, constructive environment," Frias said.

Rec pier is under lease to the production group headed by producers Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana until the end of this year.

Pub Date: 7/30/99

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