Historic Bethlehem Steel Mill Reimagined: Construction Begins On New Sparrows Point Park
BALTIMORE COUNTY - On Friday, the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks officially began construction of the new 22-acre Sparrows Point Park.
The ground-breaking ceremony represented the culmination of years of negotiations and planning. The park will be the first sizeable recreational space opened in southeast Baltimore County in over two decades, fulfilling long-standing community requests.
"The incredible new Sparrows Point Park will provide a cutting-edge selection of recreational opportunities for residents of all ages — from playing fields and indoor gyms to a new playground and kayak launch — that will better connect families in Eastern Baltimore County and beyond," Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said.
Sparrows Point Park plans to repurpose part of the historic Bethlehem Steel Mill property into a state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable park. A beam from the historic steel mill will be on display, symbolizing the company's significant influence on the region. Additionally, nearly 50% of the park's waterfront will be preserved as wetlands to aid in environmental conservation.
Founded in 1887, Sparrows Point Steel Mill became an industrial cornerstone in Baltimore. Strategically located by a deepwater port, it soon expanded, drawing a vast workforce from various regions. By the 1950s, it emerged as the world's largest steel producer, contributing to landmarks like the Empire State and Golden Gate Bridges.
Its significance extended beyond industry; the mill fostered a thriving community with multi-generational ties. Despite its decline and eventual bankruptcy in 2001, Sparrows Point remains emblematic of Baltimore's rich industrial legacy, symbolizing the zenith of American steel production and a way of life for countless residents.
According to the Department of Recreation and Parks, it will feature an array of modern amenities and recreation opportunities, including:
- A 16,000-square-foot community hub boasting a double-court gym.
- An expansive 10,000 square-foot nautical-inspired playground.
- Two activity rooms open to the community with an adjacent concessions section.
- A full-sized artificial turf field illuminated by LED lights.
- A fishing pier and kayak launch that's ADA-compliant.
- Picturesque walking trails for nature enthusiasts.
Negotiations with Tradepoint Atlantic to modify an existing infrastructure agreement for the property began in 2018, leading to the generous donation of the scenic Wharf Road site to the county in 2022.
Aaron Tomarchio, Executive VP of Corporate Affairs at Tradepoint Atlantic, highlighted the projects' commitment to preserving the legacy of the former Sparrows Point Steel Mill.
"We are especially thrilled that this new park will also honor and help preserve the storied legacy of the former Sparrows Point Steel Mill and the men and women who worked here," Tomarchio said.
The county estimates that the project will cost around $25 million. A substantial portion will be covered by grants, including $3 million from federal HUD Community Project Funding, $3 million from Maryland state funds, and $4 million courtesy of the Maryland Open Space Program.
The Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks estimates that Sparrows Point Park will be completed by 2024. Residents can stay updated about the park's progress by visiting the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks website.
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