The advocates that successfully thwarted the City’s plan to build I-170 through Leakin Park gathered on November 11, 2021 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Volunteers Opposing the Leakin Park Expressway (V.O.L.P.E). Those pictured are: Iris Reeves (x-Councilmember and wife of x-Councilmember Norman Reeves, one of the plaintiffs in the V.O.L.P.E. lawsuit); Joseph B McNeely (the first Director of SECO); Art Cohen (the second President of the Movement Against Destruction, MAD); Rick Pecora (x-President of V.O.L.P.E.): George Scheper (V.O.L.P.E. activist) and Barry Blumberg (V.O.L.P.E. activist); Bill Durkin (a later President of Movement Against Destruction, MAD); and George Nilson (the attorney for the V.O.L.P.E. lawsuit). Also pictured: Ev Paull with Joe McNeely (lower left) and Ev Paull with Art Cohen (lower right).
Nilson was the guy who came up with the Road Wars’ most clever acronym. Interviewed in 2018, he told me, “So, I thought it would be sort of amusing if the lawsuit that was ultimately brought challenging the expressway going to Leakin Park would be captioned ‘V.O.L.P.E versus Volpe’ [John Volpe was US Secretary of Transportation] because people would think it was a domestic relations case about a couple whose marriage was coming asunder, and it was sort of exactly that.”
George Scheper authored a 1976 Baltimore Sun Op-ed piece, which said:
“It is tragic and sad that one generation of politicians and contractors should be able to destroy an irreplaceable resource that was centuries in the making. It would be arrogant enough if collectively we Baltimoreans of one generation should dictate that our descendants shall not have the privilege of experiencing the the pageant of the seasons, the procession of wildflowers and bird life in this unique park, where some trees are older than the nation itself… But how much more arrogant when this destruction is undertaken without the consent of the citizens.”
Visit the Friends of Gwynns Falls Leakin Park.
For an entertaining and educational trip through Leakin Park’s historical artifacts, visit Cham’s Ghosts of Leakin Park.