The Green Network Plan will serve as a collective vision for Baltimore to revitalize communities by creating an interconnected system of greenspaces throughout the city. The planning process has been bringing together City agencies, residents, neighborhood partners and Baltimore businesses to plan for the transformation of vacant properties into community assets such as recreation areas, trails, and urban gardens. By targeting resources towards areas of blight and underinvestment, the Plan will increase opportunity, create safe and healthy spaces, and support economic development. The final Plan will be a vision for vibrant green open spaces and corridors connecting the entire city and laying the foundation for the revitalization of some of Baltimore’s most challenged neighborhoods.
The Department of Planning and Office of Sustainability are leading the project with the help of a multi-disciplinary consultant team, who lend specialized planning assistance to the effort. This team of locally based consultants is led by environmental planning firm Biohabitats. The consultant team also includes team members from the firms of Floura Teeter, Advanced Placemaking, Living Design Lab, and Toole Design Group. Together, they are lending their knowledge of environmental planning, park and open space planning, pedestrian and bicycle planning, land use and real estate analysis, and social equity to developing Baltimore’s Green Network Plan.
Abandoned buildings and vacant properties plague many Baltimore City neighborhoods, making communities less safe, hurting property values and spoiling the quality of life. With the Green Network, Baltimore City is creating a bold vision for reimagining these vacant and abandoned properties and transforming them into community assets. The vision will provide a thoughtful blueprint for turning vacant properties into parks, gardens, urban farms, open space and future development sites to benefit residents, promote economic development and make Baltimore communities more connected and sustainable.
The Department of Planning is working in partnership with residents, other City agencies, nonprofit organizations and other interested entities. A highly qualified consultant team led by Biohabitats is assisting the Plan development process, using real estate data, computer mapping and environmental planning techniques. To gather public input about the needs and opportunities in target neighborhoods, Planning staff and the consultant team have been will conducting a series of public meetings and fully engage communities in the process.
In addition to public meetings, advisory groups, sub-committees, and meetings with residents in focus area neighborhoods provide the planning effort with feedback from community and agency leaders, non-profit organizations, the development community, and others with involvement in or knowledge of issues related to vacant properties and urban greening. More information on the purpose and membership of the advisory groups and subcommittees can be found below.
Once completed, the Plan will identify areas that can be strategically set aside for green space to complement and support future economic development and create new community assets like parks, urban gardens, and recreation areas. Residents have an important voice in this process, with their ideas, views, and opinions playing key roles in shaping the Plan.
The Plan will play an important role in charting a strong future for the city and will help Baltimore achieve several critically important goals:
- Undo concentrations of vacant properties
- Create new high-quality greenspaces that serve to revitalize communities
- Make communities healthier and safer
- Support economic development to improve the quality of life for Baltimoreans
- Guide City, State and private-sector investments for years to come.
This chart depicts the planning process, including when public meetings and other outreach will fall within the process.
Three advisory groups have been formed to provide additional feedback and expertise throughout the planning process. These groups are the Leadership Team, Advisory Team, and Agency Work Group.
The Leadership Team has been formed to provide high-level feedback, direction and decision-making for the overall planning and initial implementation of the Green Network. In addition, Leadership Team members bring their expertise, ideas, connections and passion to the cause of advancing the Green Network Plan goals and assist staff and consultants with developing a robust engagement process and implementation strategy.
The Advisory Team serves to provide wide-ranging and diverse representation and ideas to the overall planning and initial implementation of the Green Network. The group has been contributing their knowledge and experience in a wide range of topic areas including knowledge of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, community organizing experience, green infrastructure design, implementation, and maintenance experience, understanding of urban ecology, knowledge of finance and development, and an understanding of Baltimore’s pedestrian and bicycle network.
The Agency Work Group serves as the City staff-level advisory team for the planning process, providing knowledge of agency priorities, plans, programs, operations, and capital projects. The group provides background knowledge and data, feedback, and contributes to the development of recommendations as part of the creation of the master plan.
Four subcommittees have been formed to assist and advise the Department of Planning and consultant team in developing the components of the plan. The subcommittees include community leaders, city agency staff, and representatives from state and federal agencies, non-profits, and foundations with expertise or interest in the topics to be addressed by the subcommittees.
The Outreach & Engagement Subcommittee provides feedback and guidance to the Planning and Consultant Teams on the communications and public outreach strategy for the planning process.
The Land Use & Design Subcommittee is working with communities in east, central, west, and southwest Baltimore to develop pilot area greening and development strategies. The strategies will include recommendations for demolition, permanent and temporary greening projects, and opportunities for future redevelopment from which initial pilot project implementation opportunities will be identified. The pilot areas are:
- East – Broadway East & South Clifton Park
- Central – Upton, Druid Heights, Penn North, and Reservoir Hill
- West – Sandtown-Winchester and Harlem Park
- Southwest – Shipley Hill, Boyd-Booth, and Carrollton Ridge
The Funding & Financing Subcommittee is researching and developing recommendations on funding streams for implementation of pilot projects and ways that ongoing resources can be dedicated for future projects and ongoing maintenance.
The Implementation Subcommittee is analyzing existing processes around the various steps and components of managing and improving vacant land, from site assembly, to project implementation and long-term maintenance. The subcommittee will develop recommendations for best practices that could be piloted and policy and process issues to address that will help to support sustainable long-term implementation.