via Sweat Equity + Community Design + Community Organizing!
Darley Park is a tight-knit residential community bordered to the west by Harford Road. Community leaders have for years worked on improving the neighborhoods gateways, seeking support for their goal of a community park and amphitheater to replace vacancy and disuse. In 2015, NDC and the 6th Branch, a veteran-led service organization, were asked to partner with Darley Park Community Association and BUILD to provide support to turn a large vacant parcel on the eastern side of the neighborhood into the community’s vision for a vibrant, multigenerational convening space.
Over the last two years, gradual progress has been made in diminishing nuisance dumping and vandalism, reclaiming the space, and testing uses for the site. At community meetings, residents pored over ideas for the future park, developing a unified vision. Leaders recruited support and resources in the form of site improvements and a community sign from DOT. Volunteers dedicated Wednesday mornings to work on the site- mowing, picking up litter, planting flowers, and building benches, planters and more.
Eventually, as energy galvanized around the project, more groups joined in to offer their support. MICA community artists, led by artist Whitney Frazier, partnered on community visioning sessions and created a large mural, to become the focal point and welcome ‘sign’ for the Darley Park community. Healthy Harbor worked with neighbors on alley stenciling and a series of vibrant environmentally themed garage murals. NDC designer Jimmy Leonard (of the multidisciplinary, award winning Baltimore firm Design Collective) designed a plan for the continued evolution of the park, and in the fall of 2016, Delegate Cory McCray sponsored a bond bill proposal for the site.
As of the close of this years legislative session, the bond bill funding has been secured, and, in the words of Delegate McCray, “The best is yet to come!”
Stay tuned for project updates as the Darley Park Gateway Park project continues to gain momentum. Check out the plans below for a taste of what is to come.