Maryland

Councilmember Brent Bolin on building around Mount Rainier, MD’s transit history

Rhode Island Avenue, Mount Rainier, MD

Brent Bolin, Councilmember for the City of Mount Rainier, MD is building on the City’s transportation assets to create a walkable and sustainable community. “There are different eras of transportation history present in Mount Rainier. The City was incorporated as a streetcar town that borders the District of Columbia, and now we have high levels of bus service that have taken the place of the streetcars. We are trying to build on that as a community asset,” explains Councilmember Bolin, who is a member of the the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.

Mount Rainier is a historic and diverse community of 8,500 residents with a working class history. Although the City has access to public transportation, it is struggling to fill the commercial spaces on main street. “Redevelopment of our commercial space is our biggest challenge. Rhode Island Avenue is our main street that evolved as a streetcar corridor. We have historic storefronts and infrastructure but these are an awkward fit with the automobile culture that people expect by not living in downtown DC,” says Bolin. “Finding the right mix of small businesses to service the City but also draw people from adjoining neighborhoods has been a big challenge for us. There are a lot of empty buildings on our main street.”

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Salisbury, MD hosts downtown walkability tour

salisbury2

The City of Salisbury, MD envisions its downtown as one that is both walkable and sustainable. To complement the city’s downtown revitalization efforts, Salisbury officials and local residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on June 11 and 12, 2014, as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. Promoting pedestrian and cyclist activity downtown is a priority for the city in order to encourage residents to visit the area and patronize local businesses. Through a partnership with Smart Growth America, the City of Salisbury and its residents worked to identify solutions to challenges facing pedestrians and cyclists navigating the area.

“We want more people knowing how to discover our Downtown businesses,” said James Ireton, Jr., Mayor of the City of Salisbury. “Smart Growth America will provide us with the resources to focus our efforts on making it easier for more people to live, work, and play Downtown.”

On the first day of the workshop, residents attended an introductory presentation that discussed the current state of Salisbury’s pedestrian and cyclist network and the importance of walkability in achieving the city’s vision of a revitalized Downtown. Residents returned the following day for a bicycle tour and then walking tour to provide insight on challenges cyclists and pedestrians encounter.

In January 2014, Salisbury was one of 18 communities selected by Smart Growth America to participate in the free technical assistance program. Stretching from New Hampshire to Idaho, these communities represent major cities, suburban centers, and rural towns alike.

“We are excited to be in an elite class of cities receiving this support from Smart Growth America,” said Salisbury City Council President Jacob Day. “Salisbury’s economy can thrive with greater investments in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and with a greater density of economic activity in the core. This grant will help us plan our evolution.”

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Maryland local leaders gather to discuss revitalization

MML panelistsMayor Tracy Gant, Mayor David Gysberts, Commissioner Susan Burdette and Council President Jake Day discuss their strategies for revitalization during a reception at the Maryland Municipal League Summer Convention.

Over 45 Maryland local leaders, including members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, gathered on Sunday, June 8 to share their revitalization successes and challenges during a reception at the Maryland Municipal League Summer Convention in Ocean City, MD. Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland cosponsored the event.

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Vice Mayor Gant: Environmental initiatives making Edmonston, MD more attractive

Edmonston Green Street

Tracy Gant, Vice Mayor for the Edmonston, MD, is using environmental initiatives to make her community stand out. “We are using green technology to attract residents to Edmonston, and also to let people know about Edmonston,” says Vice Mayor Gant, who is the Vice Chair for the Advisory Board of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.

The Town of Edmonston, an historically working class town of 1,400 residents, sits on a branch of the Anacostia River in Prince George’s County, just two and a half miles from Washington, DC. “Edmonston is a great little town. We are a beautifully diverse community that can meet any need. The city is a just a couple of minutes away, but come within Edmonston and it is like you are walking into beautiful countryside,” says the Vice Mayor.

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Making Complete Streets real in Maryland

Maryland local leaders participate in a walking tour to learn about Complete Streets in Mt. Rainier, MDMaryland local leaders participate in a walking tour to learn about Complete Streets in Mt. Rainier, MD.

Maryland members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council met last Thursday for a workshop titled “Making Complete Streets Real,” sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland. Councilmember Brent Bolin hosted the event at the Mount Rainer City Hall and gave an insider’s tour of local smart growth initiatives after the workshop.

Many of the leaders who attended the workshop are currently developing new Complete Streets policies, and the conversation focused heavily on how to move from policy adoption to effective implementation and talking publicly about the value of this work. Former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening noted, “It is important to make clear how Complete Streets relate to larger and deeper community goals.”

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West Baltimore, MD hosts workshop on preparing for the Red Line and future transit-oriented development

harlem-parkWest Baltimore could see a lot of changes with the proposed Red Line stations. Harlem Park station model via baltimoreredline.com

A new transit line is slated to be built in West Baltimore, MD, and on March 15, 2014 Smart Growth America met with West Baltimore leaders to discuss how the community can make the most of this new neighborhood asset.

The March 15 workshop was designed to help West Baltimore plan for better development around several proposed Red Line stations. At the meeting public officials presented on programs targeted to address the existing challenges residents see in the neighborhood. Much of the discussion centered on how to attract development to the corridor in conjunction with the planned Red Line stations, as well as how to ensure that development is equitable, and serves the neighborhood’s current residents as well as the community’s broader needs.

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Mayor Gee Williams on why Berlin, MD is the coolest small town in America

berlin-mdDowntown Berlin, MD is a National Register Historic District. Photo courtesy of Berlin Main Street.

In February, Berlin, MD (population 4,500) won the title of “Coolest Small Town in America” from Budget Travel. Mayor Gee Williams sees smart growth as part of why Berlin won the honor.

“We are proud of our 19th century charm, but we are a 21st century community,” explains Mayor Williams, a member of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. Berlin’s historic downtown is a National Register Historic District, boasting 47 structures on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Mayor David Gysberts brings a hardworking attitude to revitalizing downtown Hagerstown, MD

Downtown Hagerstown, MD. Photo by Mr. T in DC via Flickr.Downtown Hagerstown, MD. Photo by Mr. T in DC via Flickr.

David Gysberts, Mayor of Hagerstown, MD, and an Advisory Board member of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is looking to revitalize downtown Hagerstown while preserving its historic character.

“Hagerstown used to be a huge manufacturing town. You name it, we made it,” says Mayor Gysberts. “We still have that hardworking attitude coming from our history of being the home of entrepreneurs and industry.” Mayor Gysberts brings that attitude to Hagerstown’s revitalization efforts, working to reduce commercial and residential vacancies and promote homeownership in the city center.

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