(Photo courtesy of the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council.)
West Baltimore neighborhood uses Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant to transform streetscape and build community
by Don Akchin
For many years the Reservoir Hill neighborhood of West Baltimore was better known for its grit than its greenery. But in 2009, the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council launched a visionary Tree Canopy Project with the help of a Chesapeake Bay Trust Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant and many community partners. Over the past seven years, the look and feel of the neighborhood has been completely transformed. Volunteers on the council’s Green Team planted 550 new trees, tagged each tree for easy identification, and completed a comprehensive tree map of the community. In the same period, more than 4,700 square feet of impervious surface was removed through tree pit cutting and expansion, and more than 2,100 square feet of vacant lots were restored to provide enjoyable greenspace in the community.
In addition to the changes in the physical landscape within the community, perhaps one of the most important outcomes of the neighborhood greening was the project’s impact on attitudes throughout the community. The project triggered the development of a “green culture.” Students at the neighborhood elementary school have become active gardeners and experts on a healthy environment. Other institutions in Reservoir Hill have started their own greening programs. Tree loss through vandalism has been virtually nonexistent. Today, residents of Reservoir Hill take pride in being a greener community.
The Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant program is funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region III (EPA), Chesapeake Bay Trust, and the City of Baltimore Office of Sustainability with support from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The program helps communities develop and implement plans that reduce stormwater runoff, increase the number and amount of green spaces in urban areas, improve the health of local streams and the Chesapeake Bay, and enhance quality of life and community livability.
The Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns grant program is open and accepting applications until March 16, 2018 at 4:00 pm. To learn more about how your community can benefit from this opportunity and to apply for a grant, visit here.
To learn more about the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council and to see photos of their community greening projects visit their website.
Don Akchin is co-chair of the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council.