October Compass - Baltimore City Dept. of Planning E-News

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

October, 2012

A Message from the Director…

November 6, 2012 is Election Day in Baltimore, and in addition to choosing the next President of the United States, city voters will also be asked to vote FOR Baltimore’s bond questions.  These capital funds, if approved, will help grow Baltimore and make our City better, safer, and stronger for years to come. 

Baltimore is a “City of Neighborhoods,” but it is also a City of schools, libraries, homes, recreation centers, parks, historic buildings, public roads, public works, and a vast array of cultural attractions and economic opportunities.

We should build these pillars of growth by focusing on them with renewed vigor.  We must continue to invest in them, even when resources are scarce.  This month’s edition of The Compass focuses on this year’s bond questions.

Bond funding leverages millions of dollars in state, federal, and private investment in our City’s infrastructure.

Ballot questions A through I will help Baltimore City provide $100 million over the next two years to fund projects that build, improve and sustain the things that make Baltimore a world-class city. 

If you are a city voter, please join me in voting FOR ballot questions A through I – to create better schools, safer streets, and stronger neighborhoods.


Thomas J. Stosur, Director


G.O. Bonds at Work

Below are some recent examples of how G.O. Bond funding is being put to work throughout the City of Baltimore.  Clicking on a project name will take you to a separate website for more information on that project.

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Leithwalk School

In August 2012, a new building addition was completed for Leith Walk Elementary Middle School.  The 115,665 sf new building addition includes wifi, air conditioning, smart boards, a state of the art security system and lots of natural light. The new building connects to the school’s old building, which will be renovated, allowing the school to expand to eighth grade.

Total Construction Cost: $32 million

General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds: $19 million

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Reisterstown Branch Library

In August 2011, the Reisterstown Road Library Branch re-opened after an extensive renovation that increased the size of the branch to 13,000 square feet.  The library now has new conference and meeting rooms, special areas for teenagers and children, energy-efficient radiant heat, a new roof, improved insulation, an ADA accessible elevator lift, and renovated bathrooms and floors.

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Riverside Park

In June 2012, Recreation and Parks completed renovations to Riverside Park that included new walkways, benches, trash receptacles, and park lighting with high efficiency LED fixtures.  The renovations were established as a priority in the Riverside Park Master Plan, and were completed in time for the kick off of the multi-year Star Spangled Banner Celebration and War of 1812 Bicentennial.

Total Construction Cost: $737,000

General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds: $550,000

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Blight Elimination in Coldstream Homestead Montebello

In September 2012, Baltimore Housing demolished a large multi-family building in the northeast corner of the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello (CHM) neighborhood. The towering structure, located on 31st Street, had been a monument of urban decay that plagued residents for years. In support of the CHM Area Master Plan, the City will also continue acquisition and demolition activity in the 2700 block of Tivoly Avenue. The City has taken title to 33 properties, and the transfer of title for 46 additional properties is currently underway.

Total Capital Cost: $4 million

General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds: $1.7 million

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Everyman Theater

This fall, Everyman Theater will complete renovations to their new 250-seat state-of-the- art theater located in the Westside Redevelopment. Inaugural performances in the new theater will take place in January 2013.  The new theater provides more seating while maintaining an intimate setting, is fully ADA accessible, and was constructed to LEED silver environmental standards.  The City’s commitment of $1 million in G.O. Bonds towards this project has leveraged more than $16 million in other funding.

Total Capital Cost: $17+ million

General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds: $1 million

Planning Department Launches 2012 GO Bond Campaign

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 2012, 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 2012 Bond Issues will appear as questions A through I on the November 6, 2012 election ballot.


The bond issue for Schools will provide $34 million to continue building an educational environment that encourages the highest caliber of teaching, learning and facility utilization.  These funds will supplement other funds for renovations, additions, new construction, and other capital improvements in schools.  Projects could include a new southwest area elementary school, completion of the new Waverly Elementary Middle School, and improvements to various building systems.

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“Graduation is at an all-time high, and dropouts are down by 56 percent since 2007. As more and more students are engaged and succeeding in school, juvenile crime in Baltimore has plummeted by almost 70 percent.

Unfortunately, the physical condition of many buildings is an obstacle to students’ achieving their full potential.”

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Parks & Recreation

The Department of Recreation and Parks manages the City’s network of parks, playgrounds, playing fields, swimming pools, and recreation centers.  This bond issue will provide $8 million for projects such as swimming pool renovation, recreation facility modernization, park rehabilitation, street trees, and playground improvements.

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Community Development

Baltimore remains committed to supporting and promoting efforts to revitalize and stabilize neighborhoods.  The City relies on community development bonds to attract new investment and provide decent and affordable housing choices and opportunities for our most vulnerable populations.  This $24 million bond issue will support a range of housing and community development initiatives, including acquisition and demolition to address blight, homeownership, major redevelopments and the creation of green spaces and urban agriculture. 

Economic Development

Economic Development invests in retaining and attracting jobs in the City, and in turn increases tax revenues. This $15.8 million bond issue will support important economic development projects, including: commercial revitalization; infrastructure improvements in commercial and industrial areas; Baltimore Heritage Area grants; and improvements to the American Visionary Art Museum, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Center Stage, Everyman Theater, the USS Constellation, and the Maryland Institute College of Art.

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“ In 2010, the Baltimore Development Corporation’s activities created nearly 2,000 new jobs, while retaining more than 2,000 existing jobs, leveraging an estimated $200 million in capital investment.”

Public Buildings

The Department of General Services is responsible for the capital construction and maintenance of all City buildings including libraries, health facilities, police and fire stations, and City-owned landmarks. This $17 million bond issue will be used to improve life safety and fire suppression systems; building retrofits; and ADA accessibility for City owned buildings.  It will also provide important capital funds for modernization of the Enoch Pratt Library. 

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"1.8 million patrons visited the Pratt Library in 2011. Over 148,000 attended free programs for children, teens, adults, and seniors."


Walters Art Museum

The $300,000 bond issue for the Walters Art Museum will contribute to the renovation of this City-owned museum campus, which includes the Hackerman House, the Centre Street Building between Charles and Cathedral Streets, and the building located at 100 West Centre Street. 

Image of patrons in the Walters Art Museum

“After eliminating general admission fees in 2006, the museum experienced more than a 40% increase in core attendance and an 89% increase in family participation in educational programs. Improvements are necessary to serve these expanding audiences and to provide additional space for educational programming and activities.”

The Maryland Zoo

A $200,000 bond issue for the Maryland Zoo will support renovations to the Zoo’s aging buildings and the creation of a new penguin exhibit.  This new exhibit will include underwater viewing areas, “green” design elements, improved penguin husbandry conditions, and water conservation.

Image of Penguins at Zoo

“The Zoo maintains one of the largest and most prolific colonies of African penguins in North America, and this colony is an important participant for the successful captive management of this species. The Zoo's new penguin exhibit will house up to 100 African Black-Footed Penguins and include a water feature and underwater viewing for Zoo patrons.”

The Maryland Science Center

The $200,000 Maryland Science Center bond issue will modernize and upgrade building systems, including aging elevators used by school groups, visitors, staff, volunteers, contractors, and vendors. This project includes improved physical accessibility for persons with mobility challenges.

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“With almost half a million visitors a year, including more than 80,000 students in school groups, it is essential to maintain a safe and efficient building environment.” 

The Baltimore Museum of Art

The Baltimore Museum of Art bond issue will provide $500,000 to continue ongoing renovations, to better serve the public, school groups, families, visitors with disabilities, and community groups.  The contemporary, American, and African collections will be displayed in renovated galleries, with upgraded roofing, fire suppression, and HVAC systems.

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“Founded in 1914 with a single painting, the BMA today has 90,000 works of art—including the largest holding of works by Henri Matisse in the world. Many superb pieces cannot be displayed without expansion of the museum.”

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Help us spread the word!

If you would like more information or copies of our Bond Campaign Brochures and other materials, please contact Sara Paranilam at (410) 396-5935 or sara.paranilam@baltimorecity.gov


Coming Soon: Legislative Version of the New City Zoning Code to be Introduced

The Department of Planning would like to give you an advanced "heads up!" that the legislative version of the new draft zoning code is coming soon! 

After three years of review, drafting, meetings, discussion and mapping, we are ready to deliver the proposed code to the City Council for formal introduction, public hearings and adoption. We are currently working out the schedule for a series of Planning Commission hearings that will kick off in late November.  Once the Bill is introduced, all text and maps will be available through our web site at  www.rewritebaltimore.org.  

A formal notification and hearing notice will be mailed to every property owner in the City, but we will also be promoting the hearings online and in the media.

To be sure you receive future announcements and updates, we are encouraging you and all other interested parties to sign-up for our e-mail list here.

Stay Tuned for More Exciting TransForm Baltimore News ... Coming Soon!