Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Creating a Mosaic Mural for Reservoir Hill at the February Community Meeting

You are invited to the

Reservoir Hill Improvement Council
February 2014 Community Meeting

Tuesday, 4 February 2014, 7:00 pm
John Eager Howard Recreation Center, 2100 Brookfield Avenue
Free dinner provided by John Eager Howard Recreation Center

Help create a mosaic mural
for Reservoir Hill

This won’t be your average community meeting!  Mosaic Makers is ready to start work on Reservoir Hill’s first mosaic mural, so we are using our monthly community meeting as a community arts work session. 

More than 100 Reservoir Hill residents and supporters, students and adults, have contributed ideas to the mural design.  Pam Stein and Lauren Siegel will be coordinating different groups throughout February to construct the mural.   The completed mosaic will be hung on the outside of John Eager Howard Recreation Center.  

You helped design the mural. . . NOW you can help construct it!
The finished product will be the result of dozens of Reservoir Hill folks working together. Please come to the Community Meeting and lend your hand to the work on the tiling. Everyone is welcome! Adults and children!

For more information on Mosaic Makers
and to check out their recent projects around Baltimore
Visit their website: Mosaic Makers
Friend them on Facebook and! Click here!

Reservoir Hill is a Healthy Neighborhoods community

Farewell to a dear friend - Howard Fink


Howard Fink,
May you rest in peace, old friend.  You’ll be remembered.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014 – 10:00 am
Sol Levinson & Bros., Inc.
8900 Reisterstown Road • Pikesville, Maryland, 21208

Interment to follow at Hebrew Friendship
Cemetery-3600 E Baltimore Street

Shiva/Memorial service:
Thursday, 30 January 2014 – 7:00 pm
Beth Am Synagogue, 2501 Eutaw Place, Baltimore, MD 21217

Please omit flowers.
Contributions in his memory may be sent to Beth Am Synagogue, 2501 Eutaw Place, Baltimore, MD 21217.

Howard was a Reservoir Hill native, his family having moved to Reservoir Hill in the mid-1950s.  Living in the house he inherited from his parents on Park Avenue, Howard was a constant presence in Reservoir Hill, with his cameras slung around his neck.  He was also the force behind the restoration of the fountain at Park Avenue and Whitelock Street.  He was a dedicated volunteer, devoted member of Beth Am Synagogue, a long-time member of the National Guard, and a chronicler of Reservoir Hill life.  Howard gave generously of his photographic avocation and captured many, many moments in the life of Reservoir Hill.

Take some time to walk through some of those moments:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

From School Development to Neighborhood Development

As every reader of RHIC material knows by now, following a multi-year grassroots campaign, the Maryland General Assembly approved $1.2 billion for city school construction.  It’s an historic opportunity for Baltimore.  It’s new school facilities, but it’s much more than that.  It’s potentially the biggest jobs program the city has seen in decades.  It’s a huge investment in neighborhoods and a singular opportunity for strategic, holistic, development in communities- if we are able to seize this historic opportunity.

Reservoir Hill Improvement Council (RHIC) and Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) are partnering over several months in 2014 to create a comprehensive community plan that would help guide private and public investment in Reservoir Hill – a strategic investment strategy. To do so, we need the deep and broad engagement of the Reservoir Hill community, and a wide range of partners.

Since 2010 we have been working to foster some significant development projects that could mean very positive changes in the community.   In the past year we reached an important point:
  • The redevelopment of John Eager Howard Elementary School has many unanswered questions, but the construction of a new facility will commence in 2015, the partnership of RHIC and Child First provides stable staff and organizing resources, and a team of 12 people have been meeting every other week to guide the community's involvement and put together a model of community engagement.   
  • From the successful sale of vacant, foreclosed houses through the NSP-2 program, Healthy Neighborhoods (HNI) has sufficient funds to begin redevelopment of vacant houses on Callow Avenue.   This investment on the heels of $15 million HNI has invested in Reservoir Hill over the years, will begin eliminating the last concentration of vacant buildings in the community.
  • HUD riders on the Druid Park Lake Drive vacant lots are no longer an impediment to a project on those sites and two neighbors are leading communications with Baltimore Housing and the Department of Planning to develop a document to guide development there.   
  • Work along the Whitelock Corridor continues to turn vacant lots into public spaces where residents can interact, and most of the vacant space on the 900 block will have been renovated by mid-2014.
  • We have an extensive set of street change requests on file with Department of Transportation.  
  • And most recently, RHIC entered a partnership with Druid Heights CDC, Coppin Heights CDC, and Neighborhood Design Center to create a North Avenue Streetscape plan from Charles Street west to Hilton.

Not to underestimate the challenges remaining, but if we make the most of our relationships with city departments, our non-profit and for-profit partners, and with broad and deep community engagement, we are collectively poised to stimulate some major changes in Reservoir Hill.

If you attended our Annual Meeting last November you heard the public discussion over how to build on the $15 million investment coming through the redevelopment of John Eager Howard School.  The major topic of the panel discussion at the Annual Meeting was the need for a community plan to guide and foster more strategic public and private investment in the communities surrounding schools undergoing redevelopment.

For instance, if $15 million is being invested in John Eager Howard Elementary School and its immediate grounds, perhaps the city should prioritize improvements to the sidewalks and streets children use to get to and from school, and devote more funds to rehabbing the 24 vacant houses on the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Callow Avenue.  If some children from Westside Elementary will attend John Eager Howard when Westside closes there needs to be a safe streets strategy for the routes taking them to and from school.  If the library on Pennsylvania Avenue is to remain our closest library, there need to be improvements to North Avenue that would let parents feel good about their children going there.  The list goes on.

A strategic investment strategy can help school development jump to being neighborhood development.  This calls for a new tool, a new community planning document, but not just a plan that sits on a shelf – a vibrant, tool we actively use.  We need the analysis and ideas of community members and professional expertise to create such a plan. And we need the participation of city departments to ensure that our work gets incorporated into Baltimore Housing, Department of Transportation, and other departments.

However, if it were just Reservoir Hill, the impact on other neighborhoods would be limited. Consequently, our exploration of this subject has included conversations with the Mayor’s office, city departments, and a range of allies.

Fortunately, we are not alone in our interest in creating such strategic investing.   In fact, there is citywide interest in promoting more strategic investment in communities where schools are being redeveloped to maximize the community development impact of the school investment. This interest is being taken up by non-profit organizations, architects, and city personnel.  Transform Baltimore is very interested in more strategic use of resources in communities where schools are being developed.  In addition, the concept was incorporated into Baltimore City Public School System’s citywide 21st Century Education Expo. And the Baltimore City Department of Planning will invest significant time to help communities develop such plans

Further, the grassroots campaign of the last few years to win sufficient funding to redevelop all city schools as 21st Century school buildings has created the structures in Transform Baltimore and Baltimore Education Coalition that allow us to collectively advance creative approaches to school-based neighborhood revitalization. 

NDC is interested in playing a role in creating models of community planning that produce tools for guiding such investment along lines that have community support, and Reservoir Hill will be one of the first communities where such a model will be developed. 

All told, we are in a good position to develop a strategic investment plan in 2014 that could produce good results for Reservoir Hill, but which could also offer lessons for other communities.

At present, we are in the early stages of putting the project together.  The project will have strong technical and community outreach components.  NDC will recruit four pro-bono professionals to work over several months with RHIC staff, community residents, and institutional partners like Child First, Healthy Neighborhoods,and others.  The composition of this team will be based upon a needs assessment, but could be expected to include such skills as urban planning, architecture, and real estate development.

NDC staff and professionals recruited by NDC will work with RHIC staff,institutional partners, and community members to ensure that high quality information is gathered and used in the production of planning products.  Simultaneously, a broad and deep community engagement process will ensure that the products reflect community involvement.

We are currently exploring the composition of the NDC and community teams, and hammering out our working relationship with the Department of Planning.

We will have more to report in the coming weeks. In the meantime, for more information, or to help, contact Rick Gwynallen in the RHIC office at 410.225.7547, or by e-mail at rgwynallen@reservoirhill.net

Designing a New Streetscape for North Avenue in 2014

Older residents remember North Avenue as tree-lined, and as a vibrant place where people shopped, ate, and went in and out of the communities attached to North Avenue.  How to redevelop North Avenue as the asset it once was for communities bordering the street has been a long standing question.  

 In 2006, a set of west side community organizations held a series of meetings to discuss a more strategic approach to improvements along North Avenue.  Independently, Reservoir Hill residents have worked hard at cleaning and beautifying the median strip along our stretch of North Avenue.  Most of the plantings you see along those strips is their work.  And the CHOICE Neighborhoods planning process led by Jubilee Baltimore has developed some options for sections of North Avenue. However, none of these efforts have produced an actual plan for the full stretch of North Avenue cutting through central-west Baltimore.

2014 might just be the year for creating such a broadly-supported plan.

In autumn 2013, Councilman Nick Mosby’s office helped pull together a partnership of Coppin Heights CDC, Druid Heights CDC, and RHIC to create a new street scape plan for North Avenue from Charles west to Hilton.  The partners are working with Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) from January 2014 into autumn 2014 to create the design.  Very importantly, the Baltimore City Department of Transportation (DOT) has committed staff to the project.   DOT’s participation is vital in order to ensure that the product emerging from this planning process will be able to be used by the city. We don’t need another document that sits on a shelf. We need a tool for actively transforming North Avenue.

NDC has recruited pro bono professionals to work with task forces in the communities represented by the three community partners.  Each community task force will consist of up to five members of a core group, which will design a community engagement strategy that maximizes community involvement in the design process. We need the ideas and energy of every community member early on.

The Reservoir Hill core group is being assembled with one RHIC Board Member, one RHIC staff member, one Housing & Development Team member, one person from south of North Avenue, and another to be selected by the core group.

The first gathering of all the NDC staff and volunteers, community core groups, DOT staff, and Councilman Mosby’s office is being held this month.  The goals for this meeting are to:
  • Establish direct lines of communication between NDC volunteer design teams and core community project teams.
  • Create a list of up to 3 main goals for the streetscape within each section of corridor.
  • Create a list of additional project stakeholders that should be invited to participate in the design process.
  • Create an initial community engagement plan for each section of corridor.
Since our January Community Meeting was cancelled due to the snow storm, Reservoir Hill residents can expect the first public meeting on the design process by early March. We will also be reporting developments and ideas that are being floated in each monthly Community Briefing, on the RHIC blogs, and at each community meeting.

Our intention is to have the first set of public meetings and other outreach done by April, so we can develop an initial draft plan, which will then be presented at public venues and revised, with the goal of having a finished document in October 2014.

The resources, community networks, professional expertise, partnerships, and city participation all exist to make this a reality.  We will keep the community well informed of any progress in the planning process.  In the meantime, if you want to help or discuss the project further, contact Rick Gwynallen at Reservoir Hill Improvement Council; 410.225.7547; rgwynallen@reservoirhill.net

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's Time! Help Create Reservoir Hill's First Mosaic Mural

We’re ready to start!
Help create a mosaic mural
for Reservoir Hill

Friends & Neighbors,

Mosaic Makers is ready to start work on Reservoir Hill’s first mosaic mural.  It will be created indoors but hung on the outside of John Eagar Howard Recreation Center.  More than 100 Reservoir Hill students, residents, and supporters have contributed ideas to the mural design.  Pam Stein and Lauren Siegel will be coordinating different groups throughout February to construct the mural. 

You helped design the mural. . . NOW you can help construct it!
The finished product will be the result of dozens of Reservoir Hill folk working together.
Please come and lend your hand to the work on the tiling.
Everyone is welcome! Adults and children!

One panel will be constructed in the John Eager Howard School art class.

The following are the dates and location of public mural work days
Come to as many as you want.
We want as many residents as possible to have helped create the mural

Reservoir Hill February Community Meeting
John Eager Howard Recreation Center
2100 Brookfield Avenue
Free dinner will be served

Tuesday, 4 February, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

John Eager Howard Recreation Center
2100 Brookfield Avenue

Monday, 10 February, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Thursday, 13 February, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Thursday, 20 February, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Monday, 24 February, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Thursday, 27 February, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Beth Am Synagogue
2501 Eutaw Place
Pizza will be served

Sunday, 16 February, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

For more information on Mosaic Makers
and to check out their recent projects around Baltimore
Visit their website: Mosaic Makers
Friend them on Facebook and! Click here!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

THIS SATURDAY NIGHT - Afro-Semitic Experience in Reservoir Hill

Friends & Neighbors, please join us for what promises to be an extraordinary concert and community experience. As a special feature, six students from John Eager Howard School and six Beth Am students will perform with the band.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

January Reservoir Hill Community Meeting Scheduled for 21 January

Friends & Neighbors,
The January Reservoir Hill Community Meeting Canceled Due to the Cold
Has Been Rescheduled TO
Tuesday, 21 January 2014
6:30 pm
John Eager Howard Recreation Center
2100 Brookfield Avenue

l What’s New in the Redevelopment of John Eager Howard School?
l A Comprehensive Community Plan

Free Dinner Provided by John Eager Howard Recreation Center



What’s New in the Redevelopment of John Eager Howard School?

School Design Team members have been meeting every two weeks for several months monitoring, collecting community opinion, and advocating for a school facility that is an asset to the Reservoir Hill community.

At this meeting, School Design Team leaders will discuss the status of the design process and key elements of the newly designed facility.

The redevelopment of the school is expected in 2015.  It will be the largest single development project in Reservoir Hill to date, and has great potential for Reservoir Hill families and the community as a whole.  This will be a great opportunity to interact with the School Design Team members.

A Comprehensive Community Plan

At our Annual meeting we held an extensive discussion on the need for strategic public and private investments in the communities surrounding schools undergoing redevelopment.  While the investment in a new John Eager Howard school facility will be a very significant and positive development for Reservoir Hill, strategic, seamless investment by City and State departments, and private sector partners, throughout the community can maximize school development as full community development.  To achieve this requires a comprehensive plan to guide such investment, drawing together the diverse projects underway in and around Reservoir Hill and developing community opinion around new priorities.  But not just a plan that sits on a shelf – a vibrant, tool we actively use.

In autumn 2013 the School Design Team began outreach to community institutions as a first step in developing the foundations for such a plan.  Now RHIC is entering into a partnership with Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) to work with community members to create that plan.  This meeting is an opportunity for community members to discuss and shape this process.

At this meeting, NDC and RHIC personnel will discuss the project.
Please join us and become part of the effort at the very beginning.