The following are excerpts from a recent press release by Baltimore City, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and the Chesapeake Carbon Trust. The release highlights WGL Energy’s role in revitalizing local communities through its contributions to the Carbon Reduction Fund, made possible by customers who choose natural gas with CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets from WGL Energy. Click here to view the full release.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin helped break ground [August 7, 2015] on a project that will turn an unsightly vacant lot on Riggs Avenue in the Bridgeview/Greenlawn community of West Baltimore into a pocket park for the neighborhood. The project is the first of a series of such lot renovations around the city and one of seven projects receiving a Growing Green Design Competition award.
“This project shows how the Growing Green Initiative is working to support multiple goals of my administration including blight elimination, stabilizing and strengthening neighborhoods, reducing stormwater runoff, and most importantly transforming a liability of a vacant lot into an asset for Baltimore City," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "The Growing Green Design Competition has been [a] successful [way] to generate innovative ideas and now we see the beginning of these projects becoming a reality.”
Over the coming days and weeks, 10,000 square feet of concrete and asphalt will be removed from the former apartment building site on Riggs Avenue. It will be replaced with topsoil, trees, wild flowers, pathways, and raised beds for herbs and fresh vegetables.
“Rain gardens” in the new park will not only provide greenery where before was gray pavement, they will also help reduce polluted runoff from fouling nearby creeks and ultimately the Inner Harbor.
“This project is one of the ways EPA is working with local leaders and organizations to make a visible difference in communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “We’re turning the vision of the design competition into action to confront the environmental challenges of stormwater runoff and climate change while enhancing the beauty and economic vitality of this neighborhood.”
The Riggs Avenue project is a partnership of 11 organizations which seized the opportunity to create a neighborhood asset where there was once a vacant, unused lot. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), teamed with the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation (CHCDC), the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, the Bridgeview/Greenlawn Community Association, Biohabitats, WGL Energy and others to design the renovation.
1st Impressions and Civic Works will construct the new site using some local labor. WGL Energy donated the trees, shrubs and wildflowers through its Carbon Reduction Fund, made possible by customers that choose CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets by WGL Energy to reduce carbon emissions. Nearby Mosher Elementary School, another partner, can use the renovated lot as a teaching area.
The city is under a federal requirement to reduce its polluted runoff from hard surfaces like roads and parking lots by 20 percent by 2019. Renovating the Riggs Avenue lot is a demonstration project that will show how this can be done economically using vacant lots, local labor, and community support. CBF, in cooperation with CHCDC, will use this experience to replicate the project on other abandoned lots in West Baltimore, further reducing runoff but also creating new, valuable green spaces for the communities in the area.
To learn more about CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets by WGL Energy, and their environmental benefits, please click here.