City officials Wednesday announced sweeping plans to better connect Baltimore's parks, build more green spaces in blighted neighborhoods and create a 35-mile walking and bicycling loop as part of a community development strategy.
The proposed 35-mile walking and biking loop part of the "Baltimore Green Network" plan touches the southern part of Druid Hill Park.
(Photo: MARK PLUMMER/CC-2.0/ HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/BQUFSL)
The "Baltimore Green Network " has been in the works for the past three years and seeks to better connect all residents to green spaces, foster community development and to improve the overall quality of life for individuals in the city. Although still in the early stages, several pilot projects are already underway.
Mayor Catherine Pugh introduced the 21-page plan at her weekly press availability and said it was created through outreach and collaboration between government entities, nonprofit organizations and the community.
The "Baltimore Green Network" includes taking steps such as razing vacant buildings, constructing new parks, green spaces and community gardens, connecting community spaces such as schools and homes, and improving maintenance and cleanliness of those new and existing green spaces. The city currently has more than 2.6 million trees and 6,000 acres of parkland, as well as about 30,000 vacant buildings and lots.
A map of the city showing the areas identified for community and nature development can be seen below. Included on the map is the outline of the proposed 35-mile trail aimed at connecting parks, neighborhoods, outdoor resources, transit stations and major employers.
A map of the proposed "Baltimore Green Network" vision, which includes a 35-mile walking and bicycling loop.
The loop runs along the Inner Harbor and cuts through Federal Hill to reach as far south as the Cherry Hill neighborhood. It then goes Northwest reaching Gwynns Falls and Leakin Park, before turning East and running below Druid Hill Park and Johns Hopkins University all the way to Herring Run Park. The trail then completes its loop as it moves South, splitting the distance between Patterson Park and Johns Hopkins' Bayview Hospital, until it reaches the waterfront and follows the water back to the Inner Harbor.
Neighborhood-specific plans for four focus areas are also described in the plan and identified on the map. The focus areas are; Druid Heights and Upton, Harlem Park and Sandtown-Winchester, Carrollton Ridge, Boyd-Booth and Shipley Hill and Broadway East and South Clifton Park. These areas were selected for their high levels of vacancies, potential for redevelopment.
A few pilot projects are already underway in the focus areas such as corridor connectors, extensions of the Jones Falls Trail and other trails, park expansions and more. In Carrollton Ridge, a memorial park for firefighter Rachael Wilson is just getting off the ground at 100 S. Calverton Rd. Wilson was the first African-American female firefighter to die in the line of duty.
Funding for the initial projects has already been identified, but the city is seeking additional sources of funding and plans to apply for federal funding in late spring.
Also on the map are "corridors" and "nodes" that identify places for community and green development. Community corridors seek to provide places to safely walk and bike, parkway corridors will be vehicle-oriented and connect neighborhoods, and nature corridors will be enhanced green connections between parks. Community nodes, represented on the map as orange circles, show places with high density vacant land where redevelopment opportunities are greatest. Those spaces will focus on developing active recreation and community gathering spaces.
"Greening" and taking steps to reduce blight are believed to improve public safety, Pugh said in the plan, which is her No. 1 priority. The "Baltimore Green Network" is also expected to create jobs building and maintaining the green spaces, and talks of a workforce development program are also included in the plan.
A draft of the plan, the vision map and details of the pilot projects are available online. It is open for public comment through April 30.
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