The Compass - Dept. of Planning e-News Aug2012

Rain Garden Image with Compass Logo
The Compass is a monthly eNewsletter of the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

August, 2012

A Message from the Director…
The history of planning is grounded in what we now call “sustainability”.  We define sustainability as “meeting the current environmental, social, and economic needs of our community without compromising the ability of future generations to meet these needs.”  The three pillars of sustainability are, “people,” “planet” and “prosperity,” which reflect, or mirror,  three essential areas of planning – social, environmental, and economic.
That is why the Department of Planning was so instrumental in establishing, and staffing, the Baltimore City Office of Sustainability.
This month, I am pleased to provide an update on two exciting and important sustainability program areas: the impact of critical area program offset funding, and youth environmental leadership initiatives.  I’m also happy to introduce a new feature in The Compass, a monthly spotlight on new capital improvement projects that are being planned or are underway in the City of Baltimore.
As Baltimore’s summer of record heat and turbulent storms comes to a close, I hope you’ll join us in supporting these efforts to make Baltimore a more sustainable place to live, work and play.

Thomas J. Stosur, Director



Each year, the Baltimore City Charter requires the Planning Commission to prepare a six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The first year of each six-year program becomes the capital budget for the upcoming fiscal year and is the basis for the capital component of the Ordinance of Estimates, which is adopted by City Council.
The CIP is a very important role of the Planning Department, and the projects have the potential to transform communities.  So each month The Compass will highlight a project from the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP).  This month’s featured project is the New Waverly Elementary-Middle School being constructed at 3400 Ellerslie Avenue.
Rendering of new Waverly Elementary School

Waverly PreK-8th School #51

In February, construction began on a new Waverly Pre K – 8th School.  The new three story facility will combine the existing Waverly Middle and Elementary Schools into one expanded educational facility. The 118,000 SF facility will include an 11,000 SF underground parking garage. It will be constructed in two phases, allowing the existing Waverly Middle and Elementary Schools to remain open throughout the project. Phase 1 began in February 2012 and overall project completion is planned for August 2014.
Baltimore City Public Schools is seeking LEED Silver certification for the new school.  This will add design features such as a “Green Roof”, native drought resistant landscaping, multiple bio filtration areas to manage storm water, energy efficient mechanicals, and high performance glass and sloped ceilings to bounce daylight deeper into the building.
Total Construction Cost: $25.7 million.
Baltimore City CIP: General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds, $14.4 million.
 The remaining $11.3 million comes from MD State Public School Construction Funds.
What are G.O. Bonds?
With voter approval, the City borrows money for specific capital improvements by selling General Obligation Bonds or G.O. Bonds. G.O. bonds are debts secured by the full faith and credit of the City. Every two years, including 2012, G.O. bonds 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.

By the Numbers...

Baltimore City Students are doing great things as part of Green Teams.

Green Team outcomes from the past year include:

  • 275 recycling bins distributed
  • 150 bumper stickers distributed       
  • 265 light switch decals placed
  • 1 mural painted
  • 14 energy posters created
  • 100 CLF light bulbs installed
  • 20 gardens created
  • 73 garden beds planted
  • 58 garden pots planted
  • 500+ total plants planted
  • 31 trees planted
  • 8 benches/picnic tables built
  • 3 rain barrels installed
  • 11 composting projects started
  • 2 sheds installed
  • 7 outdoor classrooms created
  • 2 chicken coops built
  • 6 chickens adopted
  • 10 environmental field trips

Schoolyard Greening Before & After

Baltimore's Academy for College and Career Exploration
Before Image of paved school yard
Image of school yard after greening

What is Baltimore City CAMP

The Critical Area Management Program

The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Law was created by the Maryland General Assembly on June 1, 1984, to protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, while fostering more environmentally sensitive development in areas near the shoreline.  The law was created in response to national research studies documenting declining water quality and productivity in the Bay. These findings were linked to increased levels of pollutants, nutrients and toxics in the Bay ecosystem. Among other things, the law gave local governments the authority to implement the program and established the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission to establish statewide rules and guidelines.
Image of water keeper testing harbor water
The City of Baltimore has a unique set of guidelines for adhering to the Critical Area requirements.  These are published in the Baltimore City Critical Area Management Program (CAMP) Manual and are administered by the Department of Planning.  The goals of the City’s program are to improve water quality, conserve and restore habitat, and promote a more attractive and sustainable environment for Baltimore’s citizens.
Image of Kids Playing in Pierce's Park
In many cases, the requirements of the CAMP can be met through on-site practices like planting trees and shrubs, or removing impervious surfaces.  Where the requirements cannot be met on site, mitigation can occur off-site, at a different location in the critical area.  
Image of Sailor's Playing in Pierce's Park
For example, the green elements of Pierce’s Park, a children’s park just opened near Pier V in the Inner Harbor, was funded in part by off-site CAMP mitigation funds from the creation of the Dick’s dining pier nearby.  Such off-site mitigation is not always possible, however, because approximately 40% of Baltimore’s waterfront is composed of bulk heads, and 80% of the waterfront is zoned industrial.  In these cases, developers may be allowed to pay into the CAMP Offset Fee Fund, managed by the Department of Planning.

What do CAMP Offset Fees Fund?

The Baltimore City CAMP Offset Fee Fund may be used for activities that support the goals of CAMP, but their use must first be approved by the state’s Critical Area Commission.  In 2011, CAMP Offset Fee Fund monies supported a variety of programs and projects, including:
Image of Young Students Planting in School Yard

 Parks & People Foundation’s Schoolyard Greening and Environmental Program

 In 2011, Critical Area funds supported six “BRANCHES” green jobs teams of young adults at four city public high schools and two public housing sites.  The teams received job training in watershed conservation and restoration, installed and maintained greening projects at the sites where they worked, and went on ecology-themed field trips.  Through the program, 286 trees, 210 shrubs, and more than 2,000 perennials were planted.
Image of Kids Planting in School Yard
Image of staff conducting testing in the harbor

Blue Water Baltimore’s Bacterial Monitoring Project in the Inner Harbor 

Blue Water Baltimore collected bacteria samples bi-weekly at 30 sampling stations in the Northwest and Middle Branches of the Baltimore Harbor. Samples were then delivered to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for analysis.  Understanding the state of our water is a crucial step to getting it cleaned up.  If you are curious about the results, click here for more info.
Image of Rain Garden at Franklin Square Elementary

Blue Water Baltimore’s City School Rain Garden Roll Out 

Working at four schools, Blue Water Baltimore supported the removal of 0.9 acres of concrete and asphalt and the installation of 1,870 square feet of rain gardens.  All four schools engaged their students in the work, and each school was provided with maintenance manuals and educational signage to help them make the most of their new, green schoolyards.

Tree Baltimore  

For 2012, the Department of Planning has submitted a request to the Critical Area Commission to use CAMP Offset Fee Fund monies to support Tree Baltimore’s urban tree canopy goals by working with the U.S. Forest Service to support an inventory of trees in Baltimore right-of-ways, and to plant almost 150 trees during the next planting cycle.
Image of Kids Planting Tree

Youth Environmental Leadership Booming in Baltimore

The Baltimore Sustainability Plan emphasizes the need to consider the impacts of our plans, policies and programs on future generations.  It is not about those of us making decisions now – it is about leaving our children and future generations the city that they deserve.  To do that, we must involve the next generation in our sustainability efforts.  Giving them an active stake in the programs and an understanding of the issues greatly enhances the potential for the long-term success of this important work.
Image of girls gardening
The Baltimore Sustainability Plan was written with significant youth input and recognizes the need for ongoing youth participation.  Of the four major goals in the Education & Awareness section of the plan, the first two call on us to “Turn every school in Baltimore City into a green school” and “Ensure all city youth have access to environmental stewardship programs and information.”
One of our most successful initiatives to achieve these goals has been the Green Healthy Smart City Schools Challenge.  Launched in 2010, the Challenge provides $1,000 grants to “Green Teams” of students and adult advisors at Baltimore City’s public schools for projects related to sustainability, energy, and healthy food.  The program is operated in partnership with the Baltimore City Public School (BCPS) System, Baltimore Community Foundation, and Baltimore Energy Challenge, with funding support from Constellation Energy, Kaiser Permanente, and a variety of smaller institutional and individual donors.
Image of Youth Recycling Crew
The Challenges are driven by students.  In order to apply, schools must submit signatures from at least five students and one adult advisor who pledge to serve on a Green Team.  The Green Team members are responsible for coming up with their project concept, timeline, and budget. If awarded funds, Green Team members are then responsible for implementing and reporting on their projects, and are invited to present their results at an end-of-year celebration each spring.  Projects funded through the program have included vegetable gardens, rainwater collection systems, DIY energy audits, recycled art shows, cafeteria composting projects, and many, many more creative and transformational ideas.
Image of Hoop House Gardening
Participation in the Challenges has grown dramatically over the past three years, from 16 schools in 2010, to 37 schools in 2011, and 54 schools in 2012.  In total, the program has provided grants totaling $67,414, with more than a third of all Baltimore City public schools participating since 2010.
Image of Green Student Award Winners
The big finish for the program was the Green Healthy Smart Challenges Celebration, held at the National Aquarium on March 31, 2012.  More than 300 students, teachers, family members and other supporters showed up to celebrate the students’ accomplishments.  BCPS CEO Dr. Andres Alonso presented each Green Team with a Mayoral Certificate of Appreciation for their work and for making their schools and communities healthier, greener, smarter places to live.
To check out great footage of the Celebration, courtesy of City Schools, go here and scroll down to the video entitled “Green, Healthy, Smart.”
Image of a Green Team with Award
In addition to the Challenges, young environmental leaders in Baltimore have been participating in the Baltimore Green Schools Network, attending summits held by Outdoor Nation , winning funds for Baltimore-based programs, and taking part in a variety of other amazing projects and programs!  For more on the upcoming 2013 Challenge grants, or on other ways to get involved, contact Abby Cocke at or 410-396-1670.