Letter from RPCL to Sharon Green Middleton Opposing the PUD for Overlook at Belvedere

At the monthly meeting of Roland Park Civic League Board for this past Thursday, June 8, various stakeholders spoke about the proposed Overlook development near the intersection of Falls Road and Northern Parkway.

A representative from Blue Ocean Realty, the developer proposing the 132 unit, six-story tower spoke at the meeting, as did Hunter Cochrane, organizer of  https://stopthepud.com/ opposing the development. After a general discussion on the topic with comments and questions from residents of Roland Park and Mt. Washington, the board voted to take a position opposing the development.

On Friday June 9,  Roland Park Civic League President formally expressed the opposition in a letter directed to City Council Member Sharon Green-Middleton, and copied to Mayor Catherine Pugh, City Council President Jack Young, State Delegate Peter Hammen, and City Councilmembers Mary Pat Clarke and Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer.

A copy of the letter is available here: RPCL Letter to City Councilmemner Sharon Green-Middleton et al Opposing Belvedere 2 PUD

Letter from RPCL to DOT regarding Cycle Track

The following letter regarding the Cycle Track has been sent to Mr. Frank Murphy, Acting Director of the Baltimore Department of Transportation.  The original formatted letter can be found at this link.

 

Mr. Frank Murphy, Acting Director
Baltimore Department of Transportation
417 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

RE:  Roland Avenue Cycle Track                                                                      June 6, 2017

Dear Mr. Murphy,

From March 2016 until May 2017 the Roland Park Civic League’s Cycle Track Committee (“CTC”) studied the Roland Avenue cycle track between Northern Parkway and Cold Spring Lane—as did your own Department of Transportation.  The CTC held fourteen committee meetings, two public meetings, and solicited the input of an outside engineering consulting firm. At the conclusion of the process, the CTC submitted to the RPCL Board and the broader community  a comprehensive year-end report that included the following consensus statement: “Either restore curbside parking with a wider, safer bike lane and slower traffic, or partner with the community to create a complete street that works for everyone.” 

After discussion at the Civic League’s Annual Meeting last month, the membership in attendance voted 55-31 to adopt an alternate position statement to be communicated to your department as follows:

“[R]estore curb side parking immediately and completely on Roland Avenue and continue the work of the committee to achieve the other objectives (included in the year-end report).”

The RPCL Board requests that the DOT implement the above motion as soon as possible while continuing to work with the community to develop a safer “complete street” on Roland Avenue.  We appreciate the DOT’s on-going commitment to our community and to making our streets safer for everyone! We look forward to working with you to resolve this issue.

Sincerely,

Robert H. Cooper III (Hap)

President, Roland Park Civic League

CC: Mayor Catherine Pugh, James Smith, Sharon Green Middleton, Mary Pat Clarke, Veronica McBeth, Graham Young, Nikia Mack, James Decker

Statement on Cycle Track

Dear Roland Park Civic League members and residents:

At the RPCL Annual Meeting on Wednesday May 24th 2017, the Civic League offered a position statement to be communicated to the City regarding the Cycle Track. This statement had been proposed by the Cycle Track Committee after a great deal of study (see below). A Civic League member made a motion from the floor to amend the adopted statement. Following discussion on that motion, members in attendance voted 55-31 to request that Baltimore City: “[r]estore curb side parking immediately and completely on Roland Avenue and continue the work of the committee to achieve the other objectives (included in the year-end report).”

The Roland Park Civic League (RPCL) convened a cycle track committee (CTC) last year to study the cycle track as deployed and report findings to the Board and broader membership. The CTC held fourteen committee meetings, two public meetings, and solicited the input of an outside engineering consulting firm. The CTC produced a year-end report that included the following consensus statement: “either restore curbside parking with a wider, safer bike lane and slower traffic, or partner with the community to create a complete street that works for everyone.” The vote at the Annual Meeting rejected this statement, and adopted the one in the first paragraph.

The RPCL Board will request that the City implement the motion in the first paragraph above while continuing to work with the community and the Baltimore City DOT toward developing a safer “complete street.”

Sincerely,
The Roland Park Civic League Officers and Board

Plant a Tree on Earth Day!

In celebration of Earth Day, Baltimore City Department of Forestry will be offering free trees to Roland Park residents on Saturday April 22, 2017 from 9 am -1 pm or until supplies last.  They will be set up in front to Eddies Roland Park, 5113 Roland Avenue

The Department of Forestry will have selections of Viburnums, Sassafras, Swamp White Oak, Red Maple Carolina Silverbell, Yellowwood and Lindens.

These trees are free to residents to plant on their personal property.  These trees are not intended for the “Verge” or city property between the sidewalk and curb. Come early, quantities of each tree are limited!

– Look for a nice, sunny spot with room to grow.
– Don’t forget to deeply water your new tree weekly for the first year.
– Keep the new tree area free of weeds and trash.
– Protect from deer and rabbits.

The Roland Park Landscape Committee and City of Baltimore want you to enjoy Earth Day 2017!

Cycle Track Update Meeting Report

A second progress meeting hosted by the RPCL’s Cycle Track Committee on Thursday evening February 9, 2017 at The Woman’s Club of Roland Park was well attended by approximately 75 residents.

During his welcome, Ian MacFarlane Civic League President shared news that Alta Design was recently retained to supplement the Committee’s work evaluating Roland Avenue’s cycle track and considering next steps.

Presentations included Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), Survey Results, and a Pro/Con analysis of options; these are now posted on the committee’s webpage at www.rolandpark.org.  In addition, there was a discussion of Parking Enforcement.

It was announced that the City’s 6 month review has been delayed and is now expected to be complete in June, 2017. The committee plans to conclude it’s efforts and submit a recommendation to the RPCL Board prior to the Annual Meeting in May, 2017 which has yet to be scheduled.

Until then updates will continue monthly at the RPCL Board Meetings and your comments may still be emailed to the committee at cycletrack@rolandpark.org.

Remembering Al Copp

The Roland Park community lost a great neighbor and friend this week with the passing of Al Copp.

Dr. Phil Spevak, former president of the Roland Park Civic League, has prepared this remembrance.

“Al Copp will be remembered by many, but all may not understand the difference he made to Roland Park.  He embodied great personal qualities of integrity, fairness and responsibility but most importantly, he understood that in life, there is more value in helping others than in helping ourselves.  He lived that philosophy.

We became friends when, as a volunteer, he worked hard to help implement many of the major projects of our community master plan.  He did so selflessly, never wishing to bring attention to himself.  No one had a bigger heart.  He joined our community efforts during his retirement. His integrity and his expertise, gained over a long career that included the development of the Inner Harbor, were valuable as we navigated sometimes-complicated city processes. Throw in humor, patience and perspective, Al added much.

Remember Al when you see the many new street trees, streetlights, benches and trash receptacles on Roland Avenue, when you cross our streets safely using the special crosswalks, when you walk along the restored Stony Run, and when, in not too long, you walk to the top of the Roland Water Tower.  I imagine when you look out from the restored tower, you’ll know Al will be smiling.”

The following notice appeared in the Baltimore Sun on February 3rd.

“On February 2, 2017, Albert M. Copp Jr. passed away at home from pancreatic cancer. Devoted husband of Laurie Schwartz; loving father of 3 children Susan Waterman, Sharon Murray and Stephen Copp; grandfather of 8 and great grandfather of 2; also survived by 2 brothers, Lloyd and William. Family and friends may visit the family at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, 6500 York Rd, (at Overbrook) on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 from 2-4 and 5:30-8PM. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to the Roland Park Water Tower Project, c/o Roland Park Community Foundation, P.O. Box 16214, Baltimore, MD 21210.”

Update: the Baltimore Sun published this obituary on Feb. 6th: Albert M. Copp, winemaker and planner who oversaw Inner Harbor development, dies

Organic Debris Pickup program returns in 2017

For those who have paid their Civic League dues and their full maintenance fees, an organic debris removal program is available.

Roland Park organic debris collection is planned for the months of March, April, May, June, July, September, October and November and will be collected during the first two weeks of the month.

Please visit the Organic Debris Pickup page for the requirements of the program and a link to the sign-up form.

We are currently accepting applications for the pickup in early March 2017.

Civic League supports patrol of I-83 in city by Maryland State Police

Following is the text of a letter sent by  Ian Macfarlane, President of the Roland Park Civic League, to the members of our state legislative delegation.

For Roland Park residents who are interested in this issue and wish to contact the state legislative delegation members, follow the links on each representative’s name for mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers.

December 7, 2016
Attention:
State Senator Lisa Gladden
State Delegate Jill Carter
State Delegate Nathaniel Oaks
State Delegate Sandy Rosenberg

Dear State Representatives,
I am writing on behalf of the Roland Park Civic League and the residents of the Roland Park community to express our concern about the high utilization of Baltimore City Police Officers responding to accidents and other traffic incidents that occur on the Jones Falls Expressway (I-83).

The responsibility for the stretch of I-83 from the City/County line to President Street currently falls on the Baltimore City Police Department (BCPD) and specifically on the BCPD resources of the Northern and Central Districts. With the severe shortage of police officers in Baltimore City, we feel that there is an urgent need to get the Maryland State Police to take over responsibility for this stretch of I-83. They already patrol the section in Baltimore County and they are especially trained for highway patrol. With accidents occurring daily, and sometimes more than once a day, the burden on the BCPD has become overwhelming. In order to maintain the safety of officers, rescue personnel, and the public, it is often necessary to shut down the roadway in one direction. This requires a minimum of three police cars that must be diverted from neighborhood patrol duties for periods sometimes stretching to as much as two hours. The patrolling of, and response to, communities on both sides of the highway are seriously impacted by these frequent events.

In the past, it appears that jurisdictional issues interfered with the role of the Maryland State Police in Baltimore City, but now there are protocols in place for cooperation and the Jones Falls is a very discrete highway that can be managed as a discrete unit. In addition, this is a roadway that carries traffic from throughout the region. Most of the drivers are not from Baltimore City; they are work commuters, or travelling to and from sporting events.

Easing the burden of policing I-83 from the City/County line to President Street would enhance BCPD’s ability to patrol the neighborhoods on both sides of I-83 in the Northern and Central Districts. With Maryland State Police enforcement, we might also see a decrease in the excessive speeds and a reduction in accidents. We need your help to make this happen. We recognize that the State Police are not going to volunteer to do this, so it is going to take some work on the part of the State legislative delegation – but we believe that it needs to happen, and soon. We hope that you agree that this makes sense and we ask for your support to find creative ways to make this happen.

Sincerely,
Ian MacFarlane
President, Roland Park Civic League
Cc: Mary Pat Clarke, Baltimore City Council
Sharon Green Middleton, Baltimore City Council

RPCF Increases Leadership Role in Roland Water Tower Restoration

This story appeared in the Winter 2016 edition of the Roland Park News.

Open Space Campaign Update.

RPCF Increases Leadership Role in Roland Water Tower Restoration.

The Roland Park Community Foundation (RPCF) has recently increased its leadership role in the restoration of the Roland Water Tower to help move the project forward. The Board voted to oversee the construction of the project and hired a construction manager whose experience includes the Project Manager of the reconstruction of the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon. The 2010 Greater Roland Park Master Plan identified the Tower’s restoration as one of the most urgent Open Space projects, and after years of working with the City, the RPCF felt the need to step up their role if it was ever to see the restoration completed.
To recap the progress so far, in 2011, the RPCF, under the leadership of Ken Rice, secured a matching $2,500 grant from The Heritage Fund, a joint program sponsored by Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust, to perform a structural analysis of the Tower. The Friends of the Water Tower donated $250 to the $2,250 provided by the Foundation. The study determined that the structure was essentially sound and that the Tower could be restored.
In the fall of 2011, the 41st and 42nd Legislative teams in Annapolis came to the community and proposed the initiation of a Bond Bill in the 2012 Session toward the restoration of the Tower, subject to the community’s willingness to match the Bond Bill. The RPCF voted to pledge the funds to match the Bond Bill. Matthew Fitzsimmons and Elisabeth Sachs, two individuals on the leadership team, went down to Annapolis to testify on behalf of the Bond Bill and the City was awarded $250,000 toward the restoration of the Tower.
In October 2012, the RPCF spent $37,000 to remove decades of dirt and debris inside the Tower. Workers in hazard material suits swept, scrubbed and secured the building with screens to preventing birds from returning. This first step in the restoration process allowed contractors and architects to gain safe access to the building.
Due to its original function, the Roland Water Tower still fell under the auspices of the Department of Public Works (DPW), although City monuments are usually the responsibility of the Department of General Services (DGS). DGS said they were willing to have the Roland Water Tower transferred to them, but only if it came with some funding. The DPW team agreed to transfer the funds set aside to demolish the Tower, referred to as “virtual demolition funds,” over to DGS. This transfer process took many months and persistent phone calls from RPCF board member Al Copp, but it was finally completed on March 27, 2013. The Board of Estimates approved the transfer of $337,000 from the Department of Public Works to the Department of General Services for the restoration of the Tower, subject to a management agreement.
With the transfer in place, the project’s design phase could now begin. Three project stages were identified: Phase One, stabilizing and restoring the Tower; Phase Two, internal access to the top of the Tower; and finally, Phase Three, the creation of a pocket park at the base.
It is here that the project stalled. The initial design estimates for Phase One proved far higher than anticipated and Baltimore City did not accept the proposal. In April 2014, the Mayor’s Office suggested that the RPCF take on the design process to speed the process and save money. The RPCF worked with two different firms but both of the proposals were rejected. The first design firm was uncomfortable with doing the design work for one entity and then the construction work would be performed for a different entity. They placed exceptional requirements on the RPCF and after checking with legal counsel, these were rejected.
RPCF attempted to secure another acceptable design proposal, but ran into obstacles when the new design company requested scaffolding to complete the estimate. Scaffolding is one of the largest costs of this construction project but because the design was going to be paid for by the RPCF and not the City, the City would require the scaffolding be removed before it was erected again by the construction company. The costs associated with erecting and dismantling the scaffolding for both the design and the construction phases, which the RPCF, rather than the City, would have to absorb, were simply too high.
After more than two years of delays, it was clear that a new approach was needed. In early 2016, the City applied to receive an extension to the 2012 Bond Bill that authorized $250,000 in matching funds for the renovation of the Roland Water Tower. This presented an opportunity to request an amendment to the Bill, changing the recipient of the funds from Baltimore City to the Roland Park Community Foundation. Both the City and the RPCF Board approved this switch, which would increase RPCF’s responsibility for the overall project management.
At the RPCF’s March 2016 board meeting, a motion was made and approved to formally request the City to begin the transfer of the Roland Water Tower’s restoration to the Foundation. Later in the spring, members of the Roland Water Tower Committee met with City representatives, including Councilwomen Mary Pat Clarke, Sharon Green Middleton, and then-Deputy Mayor for Operations Khalil Zaied. An agreement was reached whereby the City would pay for the Phase One design estimate, thus enabling cost estimates to proceed. In July, the first draft of the design proposal put the estimated cost within the $837,000 available for the project.
The RPCF also agreed to oversee the construction phase and create a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City to determine the full scope of Phase One and their various financial responsibilities. To prevent further delays, the RPCF has recently hired Tom McCracken of McCracken Consulting, LLC to work with the City on its behalf and act as Project Manager during the Tower’s restoration. Mr. McCracken, a Roland Park resident, represented the Mount Vernon Conservancy during the restoration of the 200-year-old Washington Monument in Mount Vernon and has considerable experience with historic restoration projects in Baltimore City.
At present, Mr. McCracken is liaising with the City on the design contract with JMT, a multi-disciplined architectural and engineering company, to further refine the design proposal.
During its 111-year history, the Roland Water Tower has performed several practical and symbolic functions for the surrounding neighborhoods. Once restored, with a pocket park at the base, this iconic structure will take on a new role as an attractive local landmark and welcoming green space.

Update on Public Safety

The RPCL takes the topic of public safety very seriously and is committed to working with our BCPD and the community to disseminate information and advocate for positive change.  At Wednesday’s RPCL meeting, there was some discussion on education of the community, so we’ve added a new page to the Roland Park website that will be dedicated to public safety topics.  To start with, we are posting a very informative memo from our Northern District Community Council President, Bill Miller.  In the memo, Bill summarizes the most effective ways to communicate with BCPD and to get information about public safety issues affecting our community.  We have also added a link to the ‘Northern District Safety Tips’ flyer that Major Gibson distributed at Oct. 7th community meeting.  The flyer offers common sense approaches to crime prevention that we can all benefit from.

 We invite you to visit the new section of our website at http://rolandpark.org/community-resources/public-safety/.