The Compass - eNews from Baltimore Planning


A monthly eNewsletter from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

March 2017

A Message from the Director…

The INSPIRE program in Baltimore City focuses on the neighborhoods surrounding each of the schools undergoing modernization as part of the 21st Century Schools Initiative. The Department of Planning is engaging each community around the schools in a planning process to identify priorities and potential improvements.

In 2016, as our annual report noted, the first INSPIRE Plan was adopted for Fort Worthington by the Planning Commission. Among other priorities, this planning process identified the Berea Eastside Neighborhood Association Bridges, Brown, Moore and Williams Community Garden as an important investment that would benefit Fort Worthington students and neighborhood residents alike.

In 2017, we anticipate that several more plans will be adopted by the Planning Commission, and implementation projects will start to roll out around the schools. Several additional planning processes will launch, and the communities will be invited to participate in the process. Read more about 2017 plans-in-the-works in this month's Compass.


Thomas J. Stosur, Director 

Baltimore Planning Featured in Article on Equity

The Winter 2017 issue of Landlines Magazine featured Baltimore City's Department of Planning in an article on equitable planning. The article highlights the work of the Department's Equity Committee, and particularly the outreach efforts of Sustainability staff to more broadly engage community members during the Sustainability Plan update process.

In addition to Baltimore, the article also discusses the work of Dallas planners to bring transit-oriented development (TOD) to low income areas, including light rail.

Input on Baltimore's Art and Cultural Scene Needed


Our friends at the Neighborhood Indicators Alliance invite Baltimore residents to complete a 3-minute arts and culture survey. The survey will help highlight Baltimore's assets, explore access to arts and culture, and identify elements of arts and culture that are overlooked.

The goal is to reach as broad of an audience as possible and make sure each and every community in Baltimore is represented.

Take the survey today!:

Facebook Logo

The Planning Department has a new website!

Visit us at:
Subscribe to the Planning Department's e-newsletter by clicking on the image below:



INSPIREd Action: Area Plans Move Forward

With INSPIRE planning ramping up across the City, this month’s Compass briefly takes stock of where we are and provides a preview of what’s to come. We’ll be back later in the year to showcase some of the tangible projects happening on the ground, near 21st Century schools.

Recently Adopted Plans and Next Steps

By the end of January, INSPIRE plans for Fort Worthington Elementary/Middle School, Frederick Elementary School, and John Eager Howard Elementary/Middle School had been adopted by the Planning Commission.

This spring residents around Frederick and Fort Worthington will start to see maintenance of sidewalks and new street tree planting in an effort to improve passage to the schools. The same improvements will be made prior to each 21st Century school building re-opening.

These will be the first – but not only – investments made by the City and others around the schools. The INSPIRE plans will be used by DOP staff, community stakeholders, and other partners to zero-in on additional investment opportunities immediately surrounding the schools.  


A new way to stay up-to-date about what’s happening in the INSPIRE program is to follow us on our new Facebook page. Here we’ll share information about what’s happening in the INSPIRE areas, upcoming meetings, news from our partners, and more. Click on the logo above to check out our page.

What’s to Come

Over the next year, we expect to complete approximately seven more plans. Key dates and schools include:

  • March 23: DOP will present two INSPIRE plans to the Planning Commission: Arundel Elementary + Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School, and Lyndhurst Elementary/Middle School
  • Before the end of the year we will complete plans for the Robert Poole Building, Pimlico Elementary/Middle, Forest Park HS + Calvin Rodwell Elementary, Arlington Elementary, and Patterson High School

Poster Cherry Hill

Cherry Hill residents vote on a priority project

In January we tested out using texting as a method to collect input in the Cherry Hill neighborhood. We placed fliers and large posters (example above) in high-visibility locations asking for feedback via text.

Interested individuals could register their vote by texting, or by calling, and emailing. They also could vote in-person at food giveaways, in classrooms, and meetings. A total of 188 responses were received through these varied methods of outreach.

Working Together

A hallmark of the INSPIRE process is working with residents living around the 21st Century Schools, faculty and students, students’ families, and others who work and play around the schools.

These are some examples of how DOP works with the community to ensure plans reflect their priorities.

  • Working with a Steering Committee: Steering Committee members help us target and prioritize specific improvements. Members also help us with outreach and make sure we’re aware of opportunities to meet with the school and neighborhood stakeholders.
  • Participating in Parent-Teacher Organization meetings: We know that it’s not always easy for parents and teachers to attend our meetings, so we go to them. Recently, DOP participated in a family night at Pimlico Elementary/Middle, where families played math-themed games and ate dinner together. At this well-attended event, the INSPIRE team introduced the program, and students and their families helped map the routes children take to get to school.
  • Convening and attending meetings: Each INSPIRE process consists of a series of meetings with the public – to discuss existing conditions, develop recommendations, collect feedback, and prioritize. Planners also attend community meetings, school and neighborhood events, and more.

INSPIRE also is working closely with agencies, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, and other partners to leverage the multi-million dollar schools investments. A recent example is a tour convened by ABAG’s School-Centered Neighborhood Investment initiative, bringing together developers, community organizations, and agencies to promote the residential development opportunities around Pimlico Elementary/Middle.

If you have a suggestion for how else we can work with stakeholders in the 21st Century/INSPIRE areas, please let us know, or contact Jen Leonard, INSPIRE Program Manager, at