The Friends are thrilled to announce that we have not only reached our lawsuit fundraising goal, we have surpassed it, raising a total of $22,453!
We are deeply grateful to every individual and group that donated to this effort to have the City’s Board of Estimates revisit the issue of parkland valuation and the BGE Granite Pipeline and do what the City Charter calls for – due diligence and “obtaining the greatest amount possible.”
The Friends’ lawsuit was prompted by the City’s refusal to hear from the Friends and others that what was lost to the 2.1 mile clear-cut through the heart of the park was significant and should be valued as such. It was a loss to the users of the park, but even more significantly, it was a blow to the integrity of the park, to the ecological balance of one of our nation’s largest urban forests, often referred to as, “the lungs of the city.” As the Recreation and Parks Department itself noted before construction began, the “precise environmental impacts are uncertain, though a decline of overall forest health should be anticipated.”
By accepting a mere $1.4 million for the 25 year lease of the parkland, the Board of Estimates woefully undervalued this unique green resource. The response was fierce and swift. The Friends heard from concerned individuals all over Baltimore and from national organizations whose work is dedicated to urban parks and the preservation of green spaces.
The Friends responded to the outrage and when it became clear the City was still refusing to value the parkland for what it was truly worth, our path became clear. We filed the lawsuit in April of 2019. We set a goal of $20,000 to cover our legal costs. In one year’s time we met our goal and then some!
Because of the pandemic, the court dates (pre-trial on May 22 and trial on June 26) have both been re-scheduled. New dates are August 21st for the pre-trial conference, and October 5th for the trial date.
The Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park’s mission is to, “advocate for the park as a public resource…while preserving its delicate environmental balance.” Our solemn pledge to everyone who donated to our legal fund, and to our members and all those who use the park, is that we will tirelessly fight for the integrity of the park, not just to maintain it but to improve it so that it will serve as a beacon for what is really important to all the species that live on the earth – a vibrant green environment necessary to sustain life.
The FOGLFP Board