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EPA in Maryland

Restoring Vacant Lots to Control Stormwater, Revitalize Neighborhoods

Stories of Progress in Achieving Healthy Waters

U.S. EPA Region 3 Water Protection Division

Baltimore, Maryland • August 27, 2015

Work has begun to convert a series of vacant lots in the City of Baltimore into community green spaces.

Ground is being broken for winning projects in the Growing Green Design Competition: Vacant Lots Transformed  Exit– an initiative financed by the City of Baltimore and EPA, and administered by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Restoration of a vacant lot on Riggs Avenue in the Bridgeview/Greenlawn community of West Baltimore  is the first of seven projects around the city to proceed. EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin joined Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other officials for a ceremony marking the start of the project.

When completed, the 10,000 square feet of concrete and asphalt on the site will be replaced with trees, wild flowers and vegetable gardens to help reduce polluted runoff and turn an eyesore into a pocket park. The winning Riggs Avenue proposal was submitted by the non-profit Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Many urban centers are faced with significant challenges posed by vacant lots. Vacant areas can be unaesthetic, bring down property values and have human health and safety impacts. The hard surfaces are also pathways for stormwater to run off into streets, impacting sewer systems, local waters, and in Baltimore’s case, the Inner Harbor and Chesapeake Bay.

For the lot on Riggs Avenue alone, the green infrastructure is expected to reduce runoff by nearly 250,000 gallons per year.

“This is one of the ways EPA is working with local leaders and organizations to make a visible difference in communities,” RA Garvin said at the Riggs Avenue groundbreaking. “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 the neighborhood.”

The Baltimore Green Network Exit program is part of an overall effort by the City of Baltimore to meet a federal requirement to reduce polluted runoff.

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