Minutes – Housing Committee – May 10, 2018

Diana Geis called the meeting to order. Introductions around the table were made.

The committee watched the YouTube video created by committee member Kelleigh Eastman. It was a created as a challenge where she works at the Health Department. The title is – From Redling to the Redline. Search the title on YouTube to watch again or share with someone. It was a good history lesson on transportation and housing discrimination in Baltimore City. A short discussion followed. George said a recent article indicated that the RedLinemay have a new proposal soon.

Lou invited all to the Conversation on the impact of race on Education. It will be May 12 at the University of Maryland BioPark from 4:00-5:30. There will be a panel for the discussion and it promises to have a dynamic impact.

Jeff LaNoe, from Baltimore Green Network presented a new initiative from the Planning Department. It was started 2 years ago when the idea was put forward that there are lots and there are great parks, but they are not necessarily connected. He mentioned large park areas like Patterson Park., Carroll Park and Clifton Park. They are working with Project CORE. The idea is that everyone in the city ought to have a comfortable way to get to parks regardless of age – from 3 – 90.

He clarified that the Green Network is already beyond budget, but it is able to go to DOT – and others – to ask for funds for some of the aspects.

There are 2 projects proposed within the boundaries of the Southwest Partnership; one in the Franklin Square community and one in the Mount Clare community.

The Vincent Park Expansion is in Franklin Square and would connect a large number of vacant lots with the existing park. It would involve closing a street and purchasing a number of properties that are now privately owned. He is hoping to get input from community members about how they would like to see the park grow and what they would like to see in the park. He will be working with the Franklin Square Association. In the beginning it would start out simple with grass and trees and lighting, but could evolve into something more. It will cost about $2.75 million, with CORE assistance possibly $1.3. They would attempt to various sources for help.

Comment: Do not like that it proposes to close Fayette and Mount Streets. Response: People learn to work around routes to and from their homes. He pointed out Patterson Park that includes 35 streets that dead-end into the park.
Edith responded: She spoke for the residents of Franklin Square saying that most are in favor of the street closures because it would make a safer path for children to get from MLK Center to the park and would make it large enough to include ball playing areas. Edith, “The park, to me, is a great idea!!” Edith also mentioned that Brent Fuller had attended an association meeting a year or so ago to begin getting community input.

Comment: It will mess up Evacuation Routes.
Response: That would be taken into consideration. This is early in the planning.

Comment by Michael: The Planning Department for the City has not historically been thoughtful of Southwest Baltimore. We seem to be on the low end of concern for services and for implementation. Mt. Clare, Poppleton, Modell Place have all but fallen off the list. Planning should look at the grouping of all 7 neighborhoods as a package. To know that one would be expanded, another connected that would be helpful. Now we get every little details in piecemeal. For example, there are 2 comfort stations that have been promised.
Response: Noted. There is consideration and limitations in what can be done.

Jeff said that in all new sites they would like to initially put trees and plantings around to make informal recreation areas. Land acquisition is a setback that will take time to manage.

Comment: Diana asked about the indicated area in Mt. Clare.
Response: Yes, the B&O Corridor Concept – to connect Carroll Park to the neighborhoods on the other side of the track. It would be helpful if the B & O were a willing partner to work ‘with’ the Green Network. For now, they are not. They believe it is a safety issue for the pedestrians.
Jeff asked that if we might leverage our community connections with our institutions to encourage cooperation with the B & O.

Comment: What about the proposed horse stables?
Response: That decision would impact the path chosen to cross the tracks, but it could have a positive impact. They could be designed in a way that compliment each other.

Jeff’s contact information is: jeff.lanoue@baltimorecity.gov Please stay in touch. He is happy to come to Mount Clare and Franklin Square meetings to keep them up to date and to get their input. For other information visit BaltimoreGreenNetwork.com

Also in random conversations, Jeff mentioned the “Flowering Tree Trail” and talked about “Stream Daylighting” project that would expose streams that are now diverted underground. For example Schroeder Street used to be a stream at Franklin Street. You can stand in one spot and hear the water. It goes across Vine and Fayette. A comprehensive plan for parking was also mentioned.

Diana asked for approval of last months minutes. Daniel made a motion to approve and Edith seconded it.
Diana gave a quick report for the Aging in Place sub-committee. There will be a meeting May 25 with the HUBS representatives and there will be more to report next month.

Sonya gave a report on the LaCite and Center West projects. She will meet on Friday with the new project manager, Brian Brennan, and most of the discussion will be about Poe Homes and the development around them. She will use this opportunity to discuss the high winds last month that blew things out of the dumpster and into the neighborhood. She said that the Urban Renewal Plan is about to expire. They are seeking more funding. There may be opportunities for more conversations. Jenny Swatne with UMB want to join that meeting.

There was no Outreach report.

Michael spoke to the tax sale properties. He reported that Spring Garden Investment, that was going to provide the loan to SWP, has said they will not provide the financial support. Michael is seeking another provider for the neede $500,000.
To those purchasing houses from the tax sale list, all liens that may have been on the house are waived. By July, all purchases would need to be completed. Karl had a question about timelines for renovations. The goal is not having vacant houses, so the sooner, the better. Jerry Edward from the Columbia Bank said they may be able to help with some of the closing costs.
Michael reported that the applications are proceeding on track.
He also reported that is a new grandfather for the second time. Newborn is 9 pounds, 7 ounces.!!
He mentioned the HUBS meeting on the 25th noting that there is no Senior Center in our area. Civic Works and HUBS are looking for a programming site in our area.
Diana and Michael shared a letter received from Michael Braverman in response to a letter written several months ago about the condition of the 1420 West Baltimore property. It contained no new information.

Diana asked for opinions of providing space and marketing for one of the BNI workshops. It was mentioned that sometimes tenants are fearful to complain about housing issues. It was tabled for further discussion. Location is part of the discussion. It should be planned several months out to allow for publicity.

Leila offered to send information regarding registration and licensing guidelines for landlords and non-owner occupied housing. All agreed that it would be good information to share.

Dan shared some success stories. Home purchased in the neighborhoods.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00.