June Compass - eNews from Baltimore City Planning

Compass Logo over community meeting picture
The Compass is a monthly eNewsletter of the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

June, 2013

A Message from the Director…

Community Planning is an essential function of the Planning Department.  For that reason, I am delighted to present this months topic, the East Baltimore Leadership Academy.

This initiative was our most recent foray into community capacity building, via a partnership with CPHA and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. 

The leadership academy, set up as a series of workshops, was conceived of as a way to improve neighborhood participation in the City’s development process by taking a multi-pronged approach to capacity building for active participation in urban planning and development. 

The East Baltimore Leadership Academy met with tremendous excitement from the participants, not only because of the topics offered, but also because of the informal networking opportunity.  One participant remarked that their greatest take-a-way was the importance of community involvement and its role in changing the future for the neighborhood.

Many of the participants have asked that we continue this type of training in East Baltimore, including a more in-depth review of the development process.

We have also heard from other areas of the City that would like this type of training.  Our hope is that we can partner again with CPHA to provide this in other areas of the City.

In the meantime, the Department of Planning is committed to reconvening the participants of the East Baltimore Leadership Academy, for an Introduction to the Development Process workshop.  The details have not yet been set… but please stay tuned.

Thomas J. Stosur, Director


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CIP 101:

The Baltimore City Charter requires that the Planning Commission annually 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.

What are General Obligation Bonds?

General Obligation Bonds are debt secured by the full faith and credit of the City of Baltimore.  With voter approval every two years, the city borrows money for specific capital improvements by selling General Obligations Bonds.  G.O. bonds are used for a variety of capital projects, including schools, parks and libraries.

Community Planning Spotlight:

The East Baltimore Leadership Academy

On April 30th, over 50 East Baltimore community members joined Citizen’s Planning & Housing Association (CPHA) and the Department of Planning to kick-off an exciting and dynamic capacity building workshop, The East Baltimore Leadership Academy.

The East Baltimore Leadership Academy, a first in Baltimore, was conceived of by Planning Department staff as a planning and community organizing workshop series for East Baltimore residents. Joining us in this vision and seeing the need for this type of capacity building were the Annie E. Casey Foundation, who provided support, and our dedicated partner CPHA, who helped bring this vision to fruition.

Picture of Mel Freeman and Tamara Woods

Over the course of 3 days (April 30th, May 4 and May 8th), approximately 150 participants participated in this intensive workshop with one goal in mind – to equip themselves with essential leadership, community engagement, and urban planning knowledge and tools that they could then use to strengthen their communities.

Participants ranged from community organization leaders, and non-profit representatives to neighborhood residents.  On day one CPHA and Planning Department staff gave participants an overview of what the Planning Department does and a primer on a number of CPHA’s initiatives.

Picture of Peer-to-peer discussion group

Day two offered a menu of 11 courses for participants to choose from that were taught by Planning and CPHA staff, as well as guest instructors.  Course topics included an introduction to Zoning, the development and legislative processes, sustainability, community engagement, running an effective meeting, prioritizing issues and communication.

Image of welcome session participants

Day 3 was all about peer learning and application.  Participants were placed in groups to work through 2 exercises, including a complex development and community scenario that required them to use information from all of the classes, as well as an exercise to begin identifying how the things they learned could be applied to help improve their neighborhoods.

We were delighted by the turnout and the excitement from the communities. Those that attended all three days received certificates, and door prizes were given to the neighborhoods with the largest turn-out.  Our hope is that this event will be a model for future capacity building opportunities in other areas of the City related to Baltimore’s urban planning issues.

CIP Spotlight:

BDC and Ikaros Restaurant

Developing the CIP is a very important function of the Planning Department, and the funded 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 Ikaros Restaurant.

Picture of Ikaros Restaurant

On August 2, 2012, Ikaros Restaurant moved into a new location at 4901 Eastern Avenue.  The restaurant had an opportunity to expand its operations by leasing a 10,000 square foot building at 4901 Eastern Avenue, which formerly operated as a restaurant.  This property is located just one block east of its old location.   The Baltimore Development Corporation provided capital funding for improvements to the more spacious location at 4901 Eastern Avenue.  The financing provided was key for retention of 16 full-time jobs,18 part-time jobs, and the addition of a banquet hall within the City.

City CIP Funds (GO Bonds)                                     $200,000

Private Investment                                                    $300,000

Total Construction Costs:                                         $500,000

Uses of City Funds: Building Improvements ($140,000), Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment ($60,000)

Is Green Space Good for Your Health?  Help a student find out:

Meghan Hazer, a former Baltimore resident studying for her Masters Degree at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY, is researching how the urban environment can impact our health.

She asked us to share this link to a survey on the potential impact of  urban green space on health, stress, and longevity.

Given Baltimore's increasing interest in Growing Green, why not help her out? Go to the survey using this link.