City officials have chosen a Baltimore design team to rework the Inner Harbor's Rash Field and to build a parking garage below it.
Architects from Ziger/Snead and Thomas Balsley Associates will begin immediately working with neighboring community and business leaders and city officials to brainstorm ideas for the new park.
The 9-acre park at the southern end of the harbor opened in 1976. Officials hope to have the work done by 2009 so that Baltimore can again be a stop for the popular yachting event, the Volvo Ocean Race.
The underground parking garage, which will house at least 500 cars, will be paid for with $25 million in parking bonds, said Peter Little, executive director of the Parking Authority of Baltimore City.
However, there is no money budgeted for the extensive park renovations planned for the "roof" of the garage. "We're hoping for contributions," Little said. The team of architects will be paid $870,000.
Ideas being discussed for the park include a return of the ice rink removed in 2003, a continuation of the current volleyball and trapeze areas, a children's playground and green space where visitors can relax and admire the waterfront.
Extending the park into space now occupied by a Maryland Science Center parking lot to the west and a parking garage to the east is also possible, Little said.
Kim Clark, a Baltimore Development Corp. economic development director, said it's preferable to plan the park before securing the money to pay for the improvements.
"When you set a budget, you close your minds to what can be done," she said. "We want Rash Field to be very, very special."