INSPIRE Program Back-to-School e-Update 2018

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Pimlico Row Houses

INSPIRE, a Baltimore City Department of Planning program

Back-to-School eUpdate: October 2018 


INSPIRE focuses on neighborhoods immediately surrounding schools modernized through the 21st Century Schools Initiative. Plans generate activity and investment that build on the existing vibrancy of neighborhoods and strengthen the community-school relationship and opportunities for success.

Keeping You Informed:

With 10 plans completed, four underway, and many investments taking place, we have a lot of inspiring things to share. Two of the ways we’re keeping you up-to-date are through an updated website and monthly articles in The Compass, the Department of Planning’s newsletter.

The website has updates, information about community projects funded through INSPIRE, and upcoming meetings and events. This is in addition to plans, recommendation reports, meeting notes, and maps. The website is a continuous work in progress; new content and a fresh look to plan area pages will be coming soon. Keep checking in. 

10th INSPIRE Plan Adopted!

Arlington Team at Planning Commission

The Planning Commission adopted the 10th INSPIRE plan - that for Arlington Elementary - on October 18th. The meeting was well-attended by residents and stakeholders including Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, Councilman "Yitzy" Schleifer, Jimmy Mitchell (Arlington's Community School Coordinator), Pastor Troy Randall (President, CHHB Neighborhood Association), Izzy Patoka (Sinai Lifebridge), Marcus Pollock (Executive Director, Park Heights Renaissance) and various community members from Park Heights. See the final plan on the INSPIRE web page. Implementation of recommendations is already taking place, in advance of the school re-opening next year.

INSPIRE Implementation: A Snapshot

INSPIRE has been partnering with residents, schools, businesses, developers, agencies, and others to implement recommendations from plans. Look for these exciting signs of progress as you drive around the city:


The redevelopment of Pimlico Elementary/ Middle in Park Heights placed a spotlight on the need to address the vacant houses across the street. To build on the investment into the modernized school, DOP, the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and developer SAA-EVI began to transform these vacant houses into affordable homes. Lifebridge Health (Sinai Hospital) is also offering Live-Near-Your-Work incentives to their employees who purchase a home in this block. Over the summer, youth from Park Heights participated in the Art @ Work program, working with residents to identify homes to receive painted flower boxes to beautify and unify the block. Contact Teresa Stephens or Rahn Barnes for more information about the homes.

Arlington Garden

Throughout the Arlington planning efforts, community members focused on increasing access to healthy food and addressing blight and crime by transforming vacant land into community managed open spaces. Joining these interests, the community decided to create the Arlington INSPIRE Community Garden. The garden will serve a vital role in place-based efforts to increase access to healthy food and to eradicate blight by revitalizing underutilized spaces. Over the past year the Neighborhood Design Center led a design charrette; Civic Works is working alongside the community to make the garden a reality.


In Cherry Hill, where both Arundel Elementary and Cherry Hill Elementary/ Middle opened this year, funding has been allocated to create a pedestrian path and gathering space in an underutilized right-of-way at Seabury Road, Cherry Hill, and Bridgeview. To make the well-traveled space safer, DOT recently closed a portion of the area to vehicles. By next summer, we expect other improvements to begin, including grading and paving the existing dirt path, adding lighting, and basic landscaping. In the meantime, multiple partners including South Church, Cherry Hill Community Coalition, Youth Resiliency Institute, BOPA, and the schools will be engaging residents to activate the space and plan for ways to personalize it. See a concept drawing here

Another pic

German Park, a neighborhood park located a few blocks from Dorothy I. Height Elementary school, is receiving almost $300,000 through INSPIRE and a State of Maryland BRNI (Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative) grant awarded to Healthy Neighborhoods, Inc. The funding enables the completion of the park’s Master Plan, which will include new lights, new playground equipment including swing sets and exercise equipment, and further landscaping and beautification upgrades. Over the summer, HCD transferred the property into the Department of Recreation and Parks’ inventory, making it an official city park. Read more.

By the Numbers: Improving Streetscapes

Cropped tree

Streetscape improvements along primary walking routes are the most immediate investments around 21st Century schools. In addition to beautifying the neighborhood, these improvements help ensure safe pedestrian access to the schools. To date, 16.51 miles of sidewalk have been improved, over 21 crosswalks have been restriped, and 795 street trees have been planted.

BOPA Partnership


From community gardens to park improvements and more, community-selected projects in many INSPIRE areas are well underway. While The Department of Planning (Planning) works with other city agencies and nonprofit organizations to make infrastructure improvements (such as upgrading a park or closing a street to vehicles), residents and students will have opportunities to work with artists to ensure that the projects are truly places that fulfill their vision. Planning is working with the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA) to seek artists to to work with community members and students.

To date, BOPA has released calls for artists for three projects; artist selections will be made soon. 

  • Arlington Elementary: enhancing a school/community garden
  • Pimlico Elementary/Middle: enhancing a community-managed open space
  • Fort Worthington Elementary/Middle: enhancing a school/community garden

We’ll publicize opportunities as they come up through BOPA, Department of Planning emails and social media, the schools and communities, and more. If you have ideas of how we can further get the word out, please let us know. 

Partnering to Expand Our Team


We are pleased to be partnering with University of Maryland Baltimore School of Social Work as a placement site for one of their advanced students. Through that partnership, INSPIRE is getting extra help this year from Arriel Humphrey as she completes her degree with a concentration in Community Action and Social Policy. Arriel will be focused on equity, community engagement, resource development, and communication. Read more about Arriel in September’s Compass.

Get Involved

  • 11/17 (1:30-3:30 pm): Fairmount Harford + Harford Heights buildings INSPIRE meeting. Location: Clifton Mansion (2701 St. Lo Drive)
  • We are currently in the planning process for John Ruhrah, Bay Brook, Fairmount Harford, Harford Heights, and Govans. Please contact the listed District Planner if you’re interested in INSPIRE planning around the 21st Century school in your neighborhood.

Grant Opportunities

Vote in November

Vote Bond Issues

More information online.

city of baltimore

Catherine E. Pugh,

Baltimore City Planning

417 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor

Baltimore, Maryland 21202


department of planning

Laurie Feinberg, 
Acting Director