Upgrades coming to Cimaglia Park at Fort Holabird
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 11:59

St. Helena will now have two renovated parks

by Ben Boehl

    St. Helena has seen some improvements to its recreational parks over the last few months. First, Baltimore County built a new dog park at the old St. Helena Park. On the city side of St. Helena, renovations are now being made to Cimaglia Park at Fort Holabird.
    According to the Baltimore City government, Fort Holabird was built and used by the U.S. Army from the 1920s to the 1950s. It became a Baltimore City park in the 1970s.
    The park’s name was changed to Cimaglia Park at Fort Holabird after St. Helena volunteers Joe and Gladys Cimaglia in 2006. The park is located around Oak and Pine avenues near the county-city line.
    Shirley Gregory, president of the St. Helena Community Association, said that despite its rich history, many St. Helena residents feel that Cimaglia Park has become an undesirable and forgotten location.
    The park is rarely used, but help is on the way as Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks announced plans to upgrade the run-down facility.

“The main thing it was used for over the last 10 years was the ball fields, and that was only during the summer months,” Gregory said.
    P. Flanigan and Sons, Inc. was awarded a contract by Baltimore City Recreation and Parks and they began construction on the park last week.
    According to a Master Plan study that Baltimore City conducted in 2008, the overall appearance of Cimaglia Park has kept visitors away. Studies found that even though the park is on a heavily traveled road, there is not enough visible signage.
    To address this problem, an identification sign will be placed at the main entrance at the corner of Pine and Oak avenues.
    In addition to a lack of signage, it was discovered there was not a clear view of Cimaglia Park from the street. With the parking lot on Pine Avenue and the growing vegetation along Colgate Creek, many residents do not know that the park is available.
    Another part of the project is to keep vehicles out of the park and more pedestrian access.
    Many off-road vehicles took advantage of existing pathways to enter the park, causing damages to playing fields and vegetation in the park.
    “Our main goal is we are hoping that people will stop dumping in the park,” Gregory added. “We had contractors that come into Cimaglia Park looking for a place to dump.”
    The irony is that Cimaglia Park borders many residential and commercial properties, but there was a lack of pedestrian walkways.
    According to the study, the only walkway was located at Van Deman Street. The city admitted in its report that this pedestrian trail was not very appealing or attractive; there was a broken Jersey-wall barrier and a fence covered in vegetation at the entrance, for example.
    The new plan calls for upgrades to the Van Deman Street entrance with an identification sign, an information kiosk and improved landscaping. Pedestrian walkways will be added to the east entrance of Oak Street and at the intersection of Pine and Oak avenues.
    One of the areas that did not need too much improvement is the community garden, but it will expand with a black chain link fencing that will provide an area for mulch and topsoil.
    The aging basketball courts are scheduled to be removed and will be replaced by two half-courts that will be visible and closer to the street, and the softball fields will receive lighting for night games.
    Gregory said that upgrades have been planned since 2007 but no funding was available until now. The upgrade to Cimaglia Park comes at the same time as completion of the new St. Helena Dog Park, which is now open.
    “It’s something we need, but it is coincidental they are happening back to back,” Gregory noted.
    “It’s going to be a huge enhancement. Dundalk will have two great parks.”