Neighboring Madison Park has a new community leader

Omar HamzaOur neighbors in Madison Park have chosen a new, young leader: Omar Hamza is the new president of the Madison Park Improvement Association.

MPIA represents the neighborhood abutting Bolton Hill to the West of Eutaw Place. MPIA and BHCA collaborate on programs like Arts in the Parks and in coalition against common concerns, such as derelict building owners and park maintenance.

Hamza, 31, is a relatively new resident of the area, moving to Baltimore from New Jersey at the height of the COVID pandemic. He took office early this year, replacing longtime MPIA leader Antoinette Peele. She remains deeply involved with the neighborhood.

Hamza said his priority is growing the organization, and “I’m really focused on greening, particularly on the Lena K. Lee Park.” That park in the 1900 block of Madison Ave. is a memorial to Lena King Lee, an educator and attorney who was one of the first African American women elected to the Maryland General Assembly. She lived a block away from the park. But its status is complicated.

“Folks don’t use that park, and I want to fix that. The park land is actually not public; it is owned by an individual,” Hamza said. “It needs better lighting, we need to stop dumping from taking place, and we need to make it a greener, better place to be.” He said the association is working toward an agreement with the owner that will facilitate the neighborhood association working to obtain grant money to enhance the park. Lena K. Lee Park has been a site for summer Arts in the Parks concerts for the last two years.

MPIA also hopes to modify the dividers at the intersections of Robert and Madison, adding planters.

With BHCA, Madison Park is looking to promote homeownership around the Pedestal Gardens rehabilitation project and in vacant properties near the now-empty Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School.

Hamza is employed by an international banking company in Manhattan but works from home most of the time, focusing on regulatory compliance. During the pandemic, like many northeasterners, he searched around for new residence possibilities “and I stumbled upon Madison Park,” buying a nineteenth century three-unit brick corner building on Madison Ave. “It was in great condition, and I liked the quiet neighborhood.” A son of Egyptian immigrants, Hamza considers himself a city person, although he grew up in suburbs near New York City.

MPIA and BHCA both are involved in the rehabilitation of Mounds Park on Eutaw Place, bordering both neighborhoods. MPIA has an eight-member board that meets virtually every month, except for summer. Their big issues are, not surprisingly, similar to those of Bolton Hill: safety, historic preservation, responsible development and trash in alleys.

–Bill Hamilton