Monday, July 2, 2012

Draft Street & Sidewalk Improvements

Street & Sidewalk Improvements in Reservoir Hill
     The following notes were developed from a Housing & Development Team
discussion and a tour of the community with Department of Transportation personnel
on 7 June 2012.

These have not been formally proposed.
We encourage everyone to provide feedback on these suggestions.

                 Please send comments to Rick Gwynallen at

l         Park Avenue & Reservoir Street
-     Poor alignment of roads and sidewalks.
-     Community members would like DOT to consider installing crosswalks at all intersections at this location. Community representatives site heavy pedestrian traffic, and the presence of a nearby pre-school.
l         Mt. Royal Terrace
-          Presence of the 83 South on ramp makes this neighborhood street feel like a highway.  Community made recommendations for a Green buffer/road diet/bike lane. Reduce number of travel lanes, maintain parking on both sides of streets, green right of way in order to slow traffic, improve livability and encourage property sales.
-          Remove the designation of Mt Royal Terrace as an on-ramp, and re-direct the traffic from Druid Park Lake Drive to wrap around to 29th Street via 28th Street and Sisson Street.   Once this is done, you can close Mt Royal off from DPLD traffic, or put a stop sign up, or narrow the road, etc.  But step one would be to remove the on-ramp designation.
-         Stop signs or speed bumps can be placed on Mt Royal Terrace until the on ramp designation is removed.  Should be closed off on north end so sidewalk is continuous to 28th Street.
l         Lennox & Brookfield Ave
-      Irregular alignment of streets and sidewalks.
-      Community members are pleased with recent Art in the Public Right of Way Installation
-     Busy intersection with pedestrian foot traffic, and the presence of the neighborhood recreational center. Community members would like to see new crosswalks added. Adapt crosswalks to the ways residents use the intersection. There is considerable diagonal crossings. Include pedestrian paddles with crosswalks.
-     Lane markings ( Mr. Habib from Traffic communicated that intersection could use pavement markings, he noted that there are no markings currently present at this intersection)
-        Shorten the distance people have to cross. Mark communicated that planted medians for traffic calming could be researched for feasibility.
l                     Linden & Lennox
-         Located on south side of John Eager Howard School. Buses load and unload just north of this intersection. Speeding cars have been a long standing problem.
-         There are no crosswalks at this intersection though crossing here is significant.
-        The Community would like an east-west crosswalk painted here across Linden. The community would also like a pedestrian island considered for this location.
l         Ducatel/ Linden Ave
-     Community members cite heavy traffic at this intersection. Would like DOT to consider options for slowing traffic and creating a pedestrian friendly street. Possibilities discussed were cutting off Ducatel northbound with a green strip, green pedestrian islands at Linden and Brookfield and Linden and Ducatel, and bump outs.. John Eager Elementary School is located in extremely close proximity to the intersection.  The school proposes creating a bus loop once a modular building bordering Linden is removed this summer.
l         Linden & Whitelock Ave
-     Community members would like Pedestrian paddles added at this intersection (Traffic)
-    The community is interested in knowing whether or not it is a viable option to convert the 2400 Blk of Linden from one way to two way conversion possible ( Traffic)
l         Whitelock Street
-        Community would like DOT to investigate all intersections for potential traffic calming treatments to make the area safer for pedestrians and children ( Traffic)
-        This might call for a traffic calming study for Whitelock Street from Park Avenue west to Madison Avenue.
-        Whitelock is a broad street. The community wants to shorten the distance people have to cross Whitelock, which could include pedestrian islands or bump outs.
    Whitelock & Brookfield
-    Community would like to see crosswalks installed at the intersection, and the presence of pedestrian paddles.  ( Traffic)
-         Sidewalk/curb repair is needed on the south side of Whitlock Street, including the Westside of the block of Brookfield immediately south of Whitelock Street. ( TEC)
-         In addition to repairing the sidewalk along the south side of Whitelock and east side of Brookfield, the community requests assistance with its plan to rehabilitate the vacant lots along the south side of the 900 block of Whitelock into a resident-built community park. Neighbors designed a site plan in which the portion of the sidewalk nearest the intersection with Brookfield would be converted into a bioretention area for storm water runoff coming down Whitelock. As a result, the community requests DOT assistance with approving the design and assisting with the sidewalk re-route through the future park site.
 l         900 Blk of Chauncey
-     Sidewalks and footways in need of repair.
-     Would like two crosswalks added at the 2400 Blk of Linden in front of the Linden Market on Linden  Avenue north and south of Chauncey.
l         Linden & Druid Park Lake Drive
-        This is an important entrance to the community, and an important crossing for residents accessing Druid Hill Park.
-        Would like DOT to consider making this Intersection safer for pedestrians, and make the area more comfortable to improve access to Druid Hill Park.
-        This might call for a traffic calming study for Druid Park Lake Drive from Madison Avenue east to Brookfield Avenue.
-        Improve appearance of existing cross walk.
-    Extend pedestrian crossing time. It’s only 18 seconds. ( Traffic)
-    Would like DOT to consider Planting/widening the median on Druid Park Lake Drive
-    825- 900 Blks of Druid Park Lake Drive ( sidewalks and footways in need of repair). These are many vacant properties along this stretch. ( TEC)
Make North Avenue More Pedestrian Friendly
North Avenue is too wide to be pedestrian friendly. There is no reason it needs to be six lanes (three in each direction) in front of our neighborhood.  At a previous Team meeting the suggestion was made to narrowing it to two lanes in each direction.  This would make the intersections to cross North Avenue to Bolton Hill safer, and encourage more cross-neighborhood walking traffic to Bolton Hill, MICA, and the rest of downtown.

North Ave needs to be narrowed on the sides rather than expanding median, to connect Bolton Hill and Reservoir Hill. Widened median won't lessen psychological barrier.  Also, that was the original configuration, and would make more land available possibly on the north and south sides.  Really, it could be two lanes in rush hour and one driving plus one parking lane on off hours. There isn't enough traffic to justify it, and I think traffic studies will back that up.  Westbound North Avenue lanes would have two leftmost lanes as right turn only, or else make an island so pedestrians can cross eastern side of Mt Royal across North without fear of death.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Street Art Coming to Lennox & Brookfield

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), RHIC, Blue Water Baltimore, John Eager Howard Recreation Center, and Reservoir Hill Mutual Homes partnered on the design of a street mural that highlights Reservoir Hill’s connection to our local watershed. Fifteen Reservoir Hill folks participated with MICA students from the Design for Change class in the design of the concept, and Reservoir Hill residents will participate in the painting.

Reservoir Hill residents and MICA students put together their favorite
neighborhood features into a combined des

At the Reservoir Hill April Community Meeting, MICA students presented the design for a street mural at Lennox Street and Brookfield Avenue. below is the design super-imposed on the site. After incorporating comments from Community Meeting participants the students will work with Reservoir Hill residents, youth and adults, to paint the mural. The target date for installation is 1 May.

The intersection at Lennox & Brookfield will be transformed into a work of art this spring

The project will also produce a range of stencils that can be used to create sidewalk art and to place creative messages by the storm drains in the community encouraging people to not dump liter in the drains. The latter stenciling is intended as a youth project.

In addition to being a great piece of environmental art that’s community-designed and installed, street art helps slow down traffic and transforms a normal intersection into a work of art.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

There's A New Design for Phase II of the German Park Restoration

As most of our readers know, in June 2011, a new playground was built on part of German Park with Baltimore Ravens funding, KaBOOM expertise, the generous support of Healthy Neighborhoods and a major donor, the commitment and resources of Baltimore Housing, and 300 volunteers.

For pictures Build Day, check out the School & Recreation blog.

We are now close to ready for Phase II of the German Park restoration. In Phase II Baltimore Housing will remove the concrete from between the new playground and the pergola and grade the site. Then we will install what we call a “community lawn. This will be a large green space conducive to picnics, movie screenings, Frisbee games, and other informal community gatherings. We are also looking to use the site for examples of sustainable irrigation with rain barrels, and art projects.

Morgan State University’s Landscape Architecture Department ha
s worked closely with the German Park Working Group to prepare the renovation design. Below is the current design. We will be discussing the design at future community meetings, but please send any questions and comments you have to Rick Gwynallen at 410.225.7547 or by email to

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What Do You Think of Increasing the Bottle Tax to Fund Schools?

Mayor Rawlings-Blake is advancing a bill that would raise Baltimore’s bottle tax from two cents to five cents. All bottle tax revenue would be used to fund school renovation and repairs. The Baltimore Sun article, Rawlings-Blake readies for battle over proposal to raise bottle tax describes the bill and some of the issues.

A high quality school is one of the pillars of neighborhood revitalization in Reservoir Hill Improvement Council’s (RHIC) strategy. All new funds for public education are welcome. Still, the bottle tax poses a problematic question. Principally, the tax is a regressive tax that disproportionately impacts lower income families. However, it is a simple tax and the need is desperate for addressing the $2.8 billion dollar required for school renovations as documented by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Education Reform Project in their 2010 report, Buildings for Academic Excellence.

RHIC has been working closely with many member organizations in Baltimore Education Coalition and Transform Baltimore to develop innovative and viable funding solutions to create first-class school facilities for all city students, teachers, and neighborhoods. This has led to a three-part proposal for raising school construction and renovation funds:

1. Leverage annual construction funds for long-term borrowing

Borrow the funds needed to renovate buildings upfront and use existing streams of money to pay off this debt. This will require agreement by city and state officials to commit to maintaining current levels of annual school construction funding for Baltimore City over 25-30 years. Also, the funds must be given to the city school system “flexibly,” so that it can be used to leverage a large sum of school construction dollars now. Greenville, SC used this model to renovate and modernize all 70 of its school buildings in five years. The current levels of city and state annual funding for school construction (~$60 million) would allow the city school system to leverage $1 billion upfront now.

2. Increase Baltimore City's annual contribution to school construction

The City's share of VLT (slots) revenue, estimated to generate $15-17 million annually, could be used to borrow enough funds upfront to fully renovate 5-6 high schools or build 10-12 new elementary schools; the slots revenue would pay off the debt. A 5-cent bottle tax would generate an estimated $10 million annually, and could leverage ~$155 million to improve school facilities.

3. Increase state funding for city school construction

Connecticut covered 80% of the costs to rebuild every school in New Haven.

Maryland must contribute more to ensure that all children can learn in school buildings that meet standards for adequacy, in accordance with the State Constitution.

Point number two above (Increase Baltimore City's annual contribution to school construction) most directly pertains to the bottle tax question, because it requires us to seek out new sources of revenue at the local level.

Let us hear from you.

The Baltimore Education Coalition and Transform Baltimore are supporting the Mayor’s bottle tax proposal as a first step towards achieving high quality school buildings throughout the district.

Do you support an increase in the bottle tax if all the bottle tax revenues go toward school rehabilitation and repair?

If you would rather not pose your thoughts publicly, please them to Rick Gwynallen at