City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young will introduce legislation at Monday’s council session to officially change the name of Robert E. Lee Park to Lake Roland Park.
The popular 450-acre park sits just inside the North Baltimore city line, but is leased to Baltimore County, which maintains the facility’s numerous walking and nature trails, canoeing and kayaking operations, dog park, pavilions, and environmental programs.
The move to rename the park was sparked by a request to the City by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz several days after the Charleston shootings, Lester Davis, a spokesman for Young, told Baltimore magazine.
“Since 2009, the County has invested more than $6 million for significant upgrades to the park, which is centered around historic Lake Roland, including pavilions, playgrounds, trails, bridges and even a dog park," Kamenetz said. "We've been talking for months about a name change that better reflects this unique amenity. We believe Lake Roland Park is more reflective of this open space treasure, and we are confident that the City will approve our request, and I expect to make a joint announcement with the City about the name change in the very near future.”
According to a recent Baltimore Sun story, the park got its name in 1945. At that time, Robert Garrett successfully petitioned the Circuit Court that money from his aunt Elizabeth B. Garrett White’s bequest be used to build a monument to the Confederate general for city recreation purposes at Lake Roland. Garrett served as the city's recreation commission chair at the time.
“Some individuals undoubtably would like to see the city leave the park’s name as is,” Davis said, referring to questions regarding White’s will and potential legal challenges, “but the city is moving forward.” The City Council named the park, Davis added, “it can rename the park.”
The Robert E. Lee Park volunteer nature council, not a formal government program, has already changed its Facebook page to Lake Roland Park. A City Paper organized change.org petition to rename the park has collected more than 2,400 signatures.
On a related note, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced recently that her office will form a commission to review all of the city’s Confederate statues and historical assets. The recommendations may include, but are not limited to, “preservation, new signage, relocation, or removal,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.
Confederate monuments in the city include the 1948-dedicated Lee and Stonewall Jackson statue across from the Baltimore Museum of Art in Charles Village (see below), the Confederate women of Maryland monument at N. Charles Street and University Parkway, and the Gloria Victis or “Glory to the Vanquished” statue on Mount Royal Avenue in Bolton Hill (bottom of the page.)
“I believe it is important for us to take a thoughtful, reasoned approach to these Confederate-era monuments, rather than rush to simply ‘tear them down’ or ‘keep them up’ in the heat of the moment,” Rawlings-Blake said. “A special commission, under the guidance and direction of CHAP [City Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation] and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, will take the time to thoroughly research the background and significance of each of these items and make a recommendation that recognizes and respects the history that we need future generations to understand. ”