Persistence pays off

Our view: Strategic, well-fought citizen campaign keeps the park in Roland Park

March 16, 2009

Residents of Roland Park have shown what it takes to fight unwanted development and preserve the integrity of a historic neighborhood - determination, solidarity and political savvy.

The owners of the Keswick Multi-Care Center announced on Friday their decision to withdraw their purchase of Baltimore Country Club land off Falls Road for a continuing care facility. They cited community opposition as a reason, and Roland Park leaders deserve credit for standing up to the country club, which had refused repeated attempts by the community to buy the land and keep it as open space. The club should now recognize the community's concerns about the impact of development on the neighborhood's historic character and precious green space and accept a reasonable offer to buy the land.

Community leaders organized early against the project. Their message was clear and consistent - the project and its scope were incompatible with the design and intent of the century-old neighborhood, one of the first planned communities in the United States. Crucial to their fight was convincing the neighborhood's City Council member to oppose the development. Without her vote, Keswick would have a tough time winning council approval of a zoning change that was critical to the project. They got her commitment in early July, and once they did, it was the beginning of the end. For now.

The community shouldn't waste too much time putting together a proposal that the country club can't refuse.

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