Reed Bird Island Park

Reed Bird Island Park

By Kurtis Chapman (spring 2014)

At first glance, it may just seem like a random plot of trees, but the Reed Bird Island Park holds many stories. In the 1930s, there was a huge conflict going on in Baltimore City about a waste incineratbeing built right next to Reed Bird Island in Cherry Hill, and even while the courts were trying to settle the case, the incinerator was still being built. The amount of waste thought to be going there was enormous, and many of the citizens of Brooklyn did not want dump trucks constantly going in and out of their community. Truck traffic is still a hot button issues in the community today.

In 1949, one journalist from the Baltimore Sun wrote about the custom of Baltimore City officials to let buildings and other improvements fall apart until a public protest forces them to take action with the repair or replacement. This custom held true for the incinerator. The incinerator in Cherry Hill was demolished in 1976. However, Reed Bird Island Park was used as a dumping ground for the waste from the construction of the incinerator, and then the debris from the landfill that soon followed.

Reed Bird Island Park is in the Brooklyn area of South Baltimore, in between Cherry Hill Park and Garrett Park, but unlike those two parks, the island is almost invisible as a park without any signs, fields, or paths. However, there is a lot going on in the park, both on the surface with it being used for camping and exploring, and below-with tubes coming up from the ground in order to release methane from the waste below the surface.

The mystery of Bird Island Park shows the often-hidden past of dumping in the Baybrook region.