October Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning (UPDATED with links)

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The Compass is a monthly eNewsletter of the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

October, 2014

A Message from the Director…

Every two years the residents of the City of Baltimore are given an opportunity to vote on the City of Baltimore's General Obligation (G.O.) bond questions that provide funds for capital improvements that impact every neighborhood, resident, visitor, and business in the City.   The investments that are anticipated for the next two years are highlighted in this issue of The Compass.

As a testament to the City’s fiscal stability and integrity, the City’s bond rating has recently been raised.  That means that this is the best time to borrow money – at the lowest rates possible – to make the City’s investment go even farther.  And that’s before you add in the millions of State, federal, and private funds that are leveraged for these construction projects.

Investments in schools, libraries, homes, recreation centers, parks, historic buildings, public roads, public works, and a vast array of cultural attractions and economic opportunities are a critical component of growing Baltimore by 10,000 families.

 If you are a city voter, please join me in voting FOR ballot questions A through G – to grow a better Baltimore.  You can also help by sharing this edition of the Compass to encourage your friends and family to vote FOR Questions A through G and build upon the things that are making Baltimore a great place to live, work and play.


Thomas J. Stosur, Director


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What are G.O. Bonds?

With voter approval, the City raises money for specific capital improvements by issuing General Obligation Bonds or G.O. Bonds. G.O. bonds are debt instruments secured by the full faith and credit of the City. Every two years, including 2014, G.O. bonds (termed as Loans in the ballot questions) are presented to voters for approval on the November ballot. G.O. Bonds are used for a variety of capital projects, including schools, parks, and libraries.

In addition to being approved by a majority of the voters in Baltimore City, these bonds must also be approved by the City Delegation to the General Assembly, Planning Commission, Board of Finance, Board of Estimates and the City Council, before bonds can be appropriated, issued and spent. The bonds are rated investment grade and provide the City with a valuable inexpensive means to fund projects. The 2014 Bond Issues will appear as questions A through G on the November 4, 2014 election ballot and, if approved, will provide capital funds for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.


Special Event on Environmental History:

Rutherford Platt Returns to Baltimore to Speak about “Reclaiming American Cities”

Rutherford Platt will share his latest work, “Reclaiming American Cities:  The Struggle for Humane Urbanism Since Olmsted,” at an event to be held at the Maryland Historical Society’s France Hall on Saturday, November 8, 2014 from 1:00-3:00 p.m.

The lecture is part of the ongoing Exploring Environmental History series, and is co-sponsored by the Friends of Maryland’s Olmsted Parks & Landscapes, the Baltimore City Historical Society, and the Maryland Historical Society.

In books and conferences, Platt, Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Massachusetts, has advanced the concept of “the humane metropolis,” the goal of making cities more environmentally livable, sustainable, and just. 

His most recent book on the subject, Reclaiming American Cities:  The Struggle for People, Places, and Nature Since 1900 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013), traces the last century of American urban history to gain perspective on the challenges facing cities as well as recent signs of “humane urbanism” at work across the country.

Platt harks back to Frederick Law Olmsted, Senior, whom he credits with “a democratic vision that cities must not simply enrich and amuse the privileged, but also nurture and uplift the lives of the entire urban populace.”

Portrait of Frederick Law Olmsted

Save the Date:

Throughout the past year, Baltimore's Commission on Historic and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) has been celebrating its 50 year anniversary. The celebration will continue at a special commemorative event on October 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm at City Hall. Stay tuned for more information.

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Baltimore has so much to offer as a place to live, play and thrive! Growing a better Baltimore means we must set the right priorities and invest in them to achieve better schools, safer streets, stronger neighborhoods, community amenities, job creation and new investment, and much-needed upgrades to our infrastructure.

On November 4th, you can help Baltimore continue to flourish by supporting and voting for ballot questions A-G. Your vote is essential to providing the funds needed to build, improve, and sustain a prosperous Baltimore.

Thank you for your continued support and for helping to grow a better Baltimore.

Mayor's Signature

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Question A Checkbox and image

Schools: $34,000,000 (over 2 years)


Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore City, the State of Maryland, and the Maryland Stadium Authority are partnering to implement a $1 billion renovation/replacement program for school buildings across the City, using a combination of funding sources. This loan will complement that historic investment by making critical improvements to other school buildings, leveraging traditional State capital support through the MD Public Schools Construction Program. Renovations will include fire alarms, HVAC systems, and other time-sensitive improvements necessary for the maintenance of a 21st Century school environment. More Info

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Parks & Public Facilities: $47,000,000 (over 2 years) 

As technology has advanced, the best practices for providing various public services have changed dramatically. As a result, we are replacing and upgrading our aged public facilities, many built in the 1970s, with state of the art buildings to better serve citizens for the 21st century.

This loan will be used to renovate or replace existing public facilities as needed, including municipal office buildings, courthouses, fire stations, multi-purpose centers, and libraries. Funds will also be used to support improved parks, recreation centers, aquatic facilities, and playgrounds throughout City neighborhoods. More Info

Question C Image

Community and Economic Development: $47,000,000 (over 2 years)

Community and Economic Development funds will be used to support and promote efforts to revitalize and stabilize neighborhoods as well as aid investment that retains and attracts City jobs and increases tax revenue. This loan will be used to support redevelopment efforts from Brooklyn to Poppleton, Somerset Homes to the Inner Harbor; eliminate blight through strategic whole block demolition; leverage federal investment to build affordable housing; provide financing and incentives for private investment; and improve the appearance of commercial and industrial areas. More Info

Question D Image

Baltimore Museum of Art: $400,000 (over 2 years)

Matisse in the world. The BMA Loan will continue comprehensive renovations to fully sprinkler the City-owned 224,000 square foot building complex by 2023, enabling the BMA to better protect its priceless collections while serving the public, including school groups, families, visitors with disabilities, and community groups. Sprinklers will be added to three major exhibition galleries, dining spaces, and the Meyerhoff Auditorium. City loan funds will leverage significant private fundraising. More Info

Question E Image

Walters Art Museum: $400,000 (over 2 years)

Ranked among the top 12 children’s museums in the United States, Port Discovery offers three floors of interactive, educational exhibits and ever-changing programs for children, ages birth through 10. This loan will protect the museum’s historic Fish Market building while improving energy efficiency and enhancing its mission fulfillment. Significant renovations include replacing the aging roof and exterior doors and improving internal electric/lighting and exhibits as well as other energy/building upgrades. City loan funds will leverage significant private fundraising. More Info

Question F Image

Port Discovery: $400,000 (over 2 years)

Ranked among the top 12 children’s museums in the United States, Port Discovery offers three floors of interactive, educational exhibits and ever-changing programs for children, ages birth through 10. This loan will protect the museum’s historic Fish Market building while improving energy efficiency and enhancing its mission fulfillment.

Significant renovations include replacing the aging roof and exterior doors and improving internal electric/lighting and exhibits as well as other energy/building upgrades. City loan funds will leverage significant private fundraising. More Info

Question G Image

National Aquarium: $800,000 (over 2 years)

With its living collection of over 17,000 animals, the National Aquarium continues to act as an economic engine for tourism in Baltimore. In addition to its education programs, the aquarium’s conservation team restores habitats and preserves species throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed and around the world. This loan will renovate the Pier 3, Level 2 space to tell the story of the Chesapeake and highlight live animal exhibits. The Maryland Watershed exhibit will spill out into the Waterfront Park and Harbor-side areas with interactive components. City loan funds will leverage significant private fundraising. More Info