The Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning

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A monthly eNewsletter from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

September 2016

A Message from the Director…

This month's issue of The Compass highlights the Capital Budget process, and explains why it matters to our City. Our Department wants to demystify this process - read on to learn more about the types of projects funded through capital budgeting; the timeline; and how funding is distributed to projects throughout the City of Baltimore.

This issue also highlights one project, the C.C. Jackson Recreation Center, that received funding through the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) process in recent years. The C.C. Jackson Center touches the lives of many residents on a daily basis. It is a place for community meetings, soccer games, football practice and block parties. The modernization of the Recreation Center is an important long term investment in the Park Heights community.

This September issue also coincides with the start of the School Year - and the culmination of months of work on INSPIRE plans for neighborhoods around several schools in Baltimore City. Keep your eyes open for these plans to be formally adopted by the Planning Commission this fall and winter. And learn more about the INSPIRE planning process on our website.

Thomas J. Stosur, Director 


Come Work with Us!


The Department of Planning is seeking to hire a Brownfields Greening Coordinator, as well as Youth Environmental Interns.

Please share these advertisements widely with qualified and interested candidates!

Deadline to Apply for Green Healthy Smart Challenge is Approaching

The deadline to apply for the Green Healthy Smart Challenge is 10/28/16.

The Green, Healthy, Smart Challenge is a grant program for student-led sustainability projects in Baltimore City Public Schools. Students must be a part of an organized green team that meets to complete their project.  The aim is to have projects encourage and assist schools in reaching Maryland Green School Certification.

With questions, contact Andrea Calderón at

Planning Department Welcomes New Capital Improvement Program Planner


In August, the Department hired a new Capital Improvement Planner, Kristen Ahearn.

Kristen joins the department from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence, where she worked with mid-sized cities around the country to improve their use of data in decision making. Prior to that, Kristen worked for the State of Maryland for several years, most recently at the Maryland Energy Administration.

Kristen will be working with City departments to prepare the Capital Improvement Plan and monitor ongoing capital projects.

Sustainability Plan Update - Community Survey Now Open

We are updating our 2009 Sustainability Plan. Since then much has changed.  As we take a fresh look at our plan, we want to identify a broader definition of what sustainability means, pay greater attention to issues of equity and inclusion and include more concrete metrics.

We know that one of the best ways to connect with people and learn what they’re doing and what they need is to empower community leaders. Our priority in this process and for the plan is to make sure every story and every voice truly counts

That’s why we’re encouraging people to follow this link and fill out our survey. Tell us what you enjoy the most and least about your community, and your ideas for how to make it a better place! We want to hear what’s important to you:

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City Prepares for Next Six-Year Capital Funding Cycle

Capital budgeting may call to mind images of accountants hunched over desks reviewing decimal points and summing rows on a spreadsheet, but in reality it is an important process relevant to the everyday lives of Baltimore citizens.

Each year, the Planning Department works with the Mayor’s Office, City agencies, and the Planning Commission to compile a six-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which guides the physical investments made by the City. The CIP results in real, tangible projects that affect how residents and visitors experience the City, and are critical to building Baltimore’s future.


The Capital Improvement Plan is made up of capital projects, which are long-term investments, usually in physical infrastructure - things like municipal buildings, streets, sewers, parks, monuments, and bridges. Out of a total budget of $3.1 billion in fiscal year 2017, $525 million (or 17 percent) was dedicated to capital projects.

The process of preparing the Capital Improvement Plan begins each fall, when the Planning Department solicits requests for projects from the City’s various agencies. Throughout the winter, the Department works with City agencies to prioritize project requests. In February, the Department makes a recommendation to the Planning Commission on which projects should be funded. Once approved by the Planning Commission, the Capital Improvement Program is reviewed and approved by the Board of Finance, the Board of Estimates, and finally City Council, where the first year of recommendations is adopted into the City’s Ordinance of Estimates as that year’s capital budget. You can read more about the Capital Improvement Planning process here.

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CIP in Action:

C.C. Jackson Recreation Center

The modernized and expanded C.C. Jackson Recreation Center and athletic fields in the City’s Park Heights neighborhood provide an example of a project funded through the Capital Improvement Plan. The project was first recommended as part of the CIP in 2012. 

Over the next few years, the Department of Recreation and Parks worked with designers and contractors to make the renovations, and in June 2016 the facility was opened to the public. The expanded center now includes fitness rooms, community space, computer rooms, and an indoor gym. Outdoors, an athletic complex with new football and baseball fields, bleachers, and lighting was developed in partnership with the Ripken Baseball Foundation. The park was also improved with the addition of a new playground, parking facility, basketball court, and circulation path.

Like many capital projects, funding came from a variety of sources. The total cost for the project was $7.4 million, with just over half coming from city fund sources such as general obligation bonds and local impact aid. These city funds were used to leverage other fund sources, including state and private foundation grants. The project grew from the strategies included in the Mayor’s Recreation and Parks Task Force Implementation Plan and provides a great example of how the CIP allows the city to invest strategically in its neighborhoods, businesses, and residents.

This is the first part in a two-part series on the Capital Improvement Plan. In next month’s Compass, learn how you can take part in building Baltimore’s future by voting “FOR” Bond Questions A-D in November!

Office of Sustainability Partners with Rec & Parks on Urban Wood Reclamation Program

Log Truck

This fall will see the official launch of the Camp Small Zero Waste Initiative, a wood reclamation project carried out in partnership between BCRP’s Forestry Division and the Office of Sustainability. The initiative targets wood waste brought daily to Camp Small, the City’s wood debris storage yard.  Instead of paying contractors to chip and haul away this material every several months, the agencies have teamed up to create a plan to sort out the valuable wood material, and make it available to the public for purchase. This program will save taxpayer dollars while also creating a new supply of unique ‘urban wood’ products, including saw-logs, mulches, and specialty woods. 

The project is made possible by a loan from the City’s Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund is managed by the Bureau of the Budget and Management Research (BBMR) and provides seed money for one-time investments that will lead to improved results, increased revenue, and/or reduced ongoing operating costs for City services. A loan of $98,000 has enabled the Forestry Division to hire the first ever Camp Small Yard Master, and rent mulch screening equipment to improve and distribute ‘legacy mulch’ left at the site from previous seasons.

The hallmark of this project, however, will be the log-sorting operation to receive, grade and sell eligible logs to private sawmills – reducing the cost to the City for log chipping and creating a new source of revenue that is anticipated to support the cost of the Camp Small Yard Master position. The first log auction is scheduled to take place in mid-September 2016. 

For more information on the program, and to sign-up to receive notices of upcoming log auctions, visit Tree Baltimore’s website.