In case months and months of blog inactivity didn’t clue you in, I’m sorry to say that the Patterson Park Life blog has reached the end of its very, very short life span.

When we started, we though that it would be a fun way to keep up with the neighborhood, and as a team we could generate enough fun insights and commentary to keep things interesting.  Somewhere along the way, our lives and other blog commitments got in the way and this blog fell by the wayside.  We’re sorry.

To make it up to you, we’re happy to draw your attention to one last opportunity for our local readers.  CT’s other blog is hosting a contest wherein the winner gets a gift certificate for a free massage session.  How is this possible?  Well, part of the slowdown of posting on this blog was the result of CT spending the last year training to become a Massage Therapist.  After months of hard work (and miles of red tape) she is, and she just started her own practice right here in Patterson Park!

Back to the contest: To enter, head over to Things I Adore and leave a comment at the end of the post.  The winner will be randomly selected.  What’s more, EVERYONE who enters will get 10% off of any massage treatment at Claire Taylor Massage.

As for us, so long, farewell, and we’ll see you at the Park!

Hey, 2009 City Paper Awards, how did you slip past me?  Oh well.  Patterson Park was recently (ok, six weeks ago–I’m still getting used to this blogging thing) named the City’s best Park for 2009.  The money quote:

Between cutting down bushes to improve security and the restoration of the pagoda, the park is now undeniably awesome.

It sure is.

Patterson Park  last won this award in 2007 when it was praised as being a “model for the whole city.”  The “Best Park” designation was stripped away in 2008 when nearby Clifton Park took home the crown.  These awards came on the heels of three years of Druid Hill Park dominance.

There is little doubt in my mind that Patterson Park has earned this designation–heck, it is the whole reason we moved to the neighborhood and it is nice to see that the tireless efforts of neighbors, community members, the city and the groups and individuals that use the park day-in and day-out have made the area the go-to place to enjoy the outdoors.

So congrats to Patterson Park, the best that the city has to offer, for being so awesome.  Undeniably.

Tip of the cap to the Urban Discoveries Living blog who brought this to my attention–and is featuring a bunch of very fine Patterson Park-area homes that are available for anyone who wants to come and join the Patterson Park fun!

 

Every year Forbes comes up with a “Most Dangerous Cities” list.  These tend to get everybody in a tizzy despite the fact that they are relatively meaningless.  This year, Baltimore came in 10th on the list because of this little statistic:

Population: 2,652,974
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 791

Hmm, seems reasonable enough.  Here’s your methodology, for some perspective:

To determine our list, we used violent crime statistics from the FBI’s latest uniform crime report, issued in 2008. The violent crime category is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. We evaluated U.S. metropolitan statistical areas–geographic entities defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for use by federal agencies in collecting, tabulating and publishing federal statistics–with more than 500,000 residents.

In these lists “Most Dangerous” means “Most Likely To Be Violently Criminalized,” which is a decent proxy, but certainly hides the whole story.  It’s not like just by entering Baltimore your are going to be assaulted compared to when you enter a “less dangerous” city on the list.

But this is all old news.  The big news is that Baltimore is now the 26th Safest City according to a new Forbes list, safer than seemingly safe metropolises like Virginia Beach, Orlando, Tampa and Charlotte (of course, on this list, 26th safest also means 13th most Dangerous…which is still an improvement, but, come on).  So what gives?

Methodology baby!

To determine our list of America’s safest cities, we looked at the country’s 40 largest metropolitan statistical areasacross four categories of danger. We considered violent crime rates from the FBI’s 2008 uniform crime report; 2008 workplace death rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; 2008 traffic death rates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and natural disaster risk, using rankings from green living site SustainLane.com

Violent crime is now just a piece of the puzzle!  Baltimore comes in at 34/40 in Violent crime, but gets 21/40 (aka the middle of the list) for safety in the workplace, traffic deaths and natural disaster risk.  Take that Miami, with all of your old drivers and hurricanes and such!  With this new methodology, Forbes has charmingly called this a “Safest Cities” list, which is a nice way of saying “Least Likely To Die In” list.

Of course, none of this is a big deal–most people realize that these lists are fun to click through but mean very, very little–unless the new list happens to make you WAY BETTER THAN THE OLD LIST.  That is a shout out to my old stomping grounds of Detroit, which went from “Most Dangerous” to “12th Safest,” which, uh, good for you.  I’ve said ever since I moved to Maryland that the drivers here are terrible.  I guess I was just used to a higher quality of driver.

Of the 40 cities on the list, Detroit had the worst violent crime rate, but placed fourth safest for workplace deaths, 10th safest for traffic deaths and eighth safest for risk of natural disaster.

Insert comments about “it’s hard to have workplace deaths when nobody has jobs,” and the corollary of “nobody is driving because nobody goes to work” here, jerks.

Back to Baltimore, for all the people (like us) who talk about how much we love the city, and tirelessly defend the merits of our town, even in the face of damaging “most dangerous” lists that hurt the public perception, we now have a tiny pellet-sized piece of new ammo.  Baltimore is less unsafe than we previously thought.  Woo!

From the Baltimore Sun:

The combination is expected to net $18 million for the city the first year the casino is operating and $21 million the second. Along with an expected rise in revenue from income and hotel taxes, the city says it would be enough to cut property taxes by about 3.5 percent, or $80 on a $100,000 house.

The combination refers to a take of 2.99% of Gross gambling revenues and the sale of adjacent property expected to generate $3.2 million in annual property tax revenues.  Also, there is this comforting tidbit:

If gambling revenue falls short of projections, the city would receive guaranteed minimum payments.

What’s this?  Do city officials know how to negotiate?  Guaranteed minimum payments are key for things like this, as it protects the city’s tax coffers in the event that revenues are down (as in the case of a bad economy, for example).  Too often, glitzy public projects blind officials with huge impact numbers and claims of total revitalization and cities ignore the downside risk.  Kudos to Baltimore for paying attention.

No matter what you think of slots (they passed, so I recommend dealing with it if you’re opposed), it is hard to object to using the revenues to lower property tax.  Let me rephrase.  It’s hard for me to object.  I’d imagine other homeowners in the city feel likewise.  As for the renting population, I hope that they’re not holding their breath for the trickle down effects of a tax cut in the form of reduced rent.  It’s too bad that last week’s city survey didn’t hit on the tax issue, which is a hot button topic.

One could argue that the money would be better used on public safety, cleanliness or education, all of which would be good ideas.  However, one glaring issue that is stunting Baltimore City’s growth is its ridiculously high property tax rate.  In 2009-2010 the city real property rate was at 2.268 per $100 assessed, or more than twice as much as the next highest county (Baltimore County at 1.1).  The proposed reduction would cut that number by .8 mils, down to 2.188 for a savings of about $80 on a $100,000 property.

Yes, this is a drop in the bucket.  Yes, City taxes will still be astronomically high compared to surrounding areas.  Yes, it effectively subsidizes the city’s more prosperous areas at the expense of low-income neighborhoods.  Still, it is a start, and is a real reduction that will benefit existing residents and incentivize potential homebuyers on the margins.  If this brings in more people to live in the city–the most important indicator of a city’s health–then I don’t see how it can be anything but a good thing.

I got this in an email from our neighborhood association today and wanted to pass it along. 

 

Free Breast Cancer screenings are available at area hospitals in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

 

Picture 18

I posted this on my other blog, but it’s worth spreading around. 

Bob Dylan’s Christmas album preview. It’s priceless. 

The Baltimore Sun has a two-pronged attack to cover a recent survey on Baltimore residents’ views on the city.  The results of the survey are interesting, and not altogether surprising.  Bullets:

  • People LOVE their parks.  Are any Patterson Park residents surprised by this?  The park is probably the reason that most of us are here.
  • Only 30% of “The City That Reads” uses the Library.  But of those, 94% have praise for the institutions.
  • Most folks (78%) have a well-stocked grocery store close to home, but tend to buy consumer goods outside the city.
  • Rats, Drugs, Trash and Safety are the big concerns
  • Parking in your neighborhood is only a problem for 25.7% of residents, all of whom are apparently located in the Patterson Park area, based on their insistence to petition the city for reverse angle parking in Patterson Place so that they can park their cars in front of their homes instead of walking half a block like normal people.  Argh.
  • 92.6% feel Very Safe or Safe in their neighborhoods during the day (!) and 68.2% feel that way at night
  • But only 36.3% feel safe downtown at night–which is not too surprising.  Although the paper mentions that downtown has the least amount of crime of any area in the city, the architecture and commercial/residential/retail mix makes the downtown area feel like a desolate ghost town with no comforting sites and an intimidating scale for pedestrians.

Here’s the full chart:

The second article–an editorial– says what we all know.  We city residents identify strongly with our neighborhoods, but feel don’t really take a city-wide view of things.  We are comfortable in our niches.  Heck, this Patterson Park based blog is nothing if not a beacon of the balkanization of the city.  Other parts of the city are new and scary to us, and we’ll do our best to check them out, but we’re just not comfortable with them in the same way.

This detachment between Neighborhood and City may be one of the reasons that Baltimore has had so much trouble putting cohesive policies together about everything from Rats to Abandonment to Trash to Drugs to Parks to Transit.  Oh yeah, there’s a problem, but its not OUR problem.  Sad to say, that’s the biggest problem of all.

So, whether you’re a fellow Patterson Parker, a Cantonite, a Mount Washingtonian or just a citizen of the city, what do you think about your neighborhood and this city that you call home?

Picture 13

This Saturday is all about helping to create a cleaner, greener Baltimore. Check with your local neighborhood association to find out how you can help out. I know Patterson Place is organizing a neighborhood cleanup and I’m sure they aren’t the only ones. Hopefully the weather improves! 

Here’s the Patterson Place Flier: 

Picture 14

The Baltimore Marathon and Half-Marathon are this Saturday and both races come right through the Patterson Park area. 

Picture 4

The push up Linwood Ave is a big one for both races as it leads to a tough 3 miles of uphill from Madison St. all the way to Clifton Park. The Marathon begins at 8 am and the Half at 9:45. Come out and cheer on all the runners! DT and I will be running the Half Marathon–you’ll recognize us as the two people totally kicking ass! 

If you bring candy or other goodies for runners to eat, you’ll quickly join the ranks of infamous spectators–just ask DT about “the Gummi Bear Guy” on Guilford Ave. 

UPDATE: Check out these tips for being a fantastic race day spectator! 

The New York Times as updated their “36 hours in Baltimore” review, letting the outsiders in on some of the non-inner harbor insider places to go in Baltimore (and reminding some of us locals of the various gems in the city).  So, if you’re in town on a non-fells point festival weekend (aka Right Now), you should make the teeny bit of effort necessary to see Baltimore outside the Inner Harbor.  Once you do, you’ll never want to go in the Pratt St. Pavillion again.

The whole New York Times article can be found here.

Oh!  How about a Patterson Park shoutout while we’re at it!

3) VERY OFF BROADWAY

True to its countercultural roots, Baltimore mostly eschews touring Broadway shows for offbeat theater. Perhaps the strangest are staged by the Creative Alliance at the Patterson (3134 Eastern Avenue; 410-276-1651; www.creativealliance.org), whose stage feels like an old vaudeville house. One night, you might catch burlesque artists stripping down to their pasties; another night, a documentary on Baltimore’s decaying schools. The adjacent gallery often features the works of local painters and photographers.

That’s right down the block, folks and shoots life into the night sky on Eastern Ave. more often than not.

Of course, if you’re going to head into Fells Point too, I suggest stopping by the Robert McClintock gallery, so that I feel less bad for shamelessly swiping that picture of the Patterson.

So there you go, Baltimore is A-OK .  Even the New York Times says so.

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