Web tool tracks Baltimore’s green spaces

Ever wonder where some of the reclaimed vacant lots-turned-gardens, pocket parks, meditation spaces and horseshoe pits are located?

A new resource created by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance and the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute can help.

Its creators said the interactive tool is designed to help governmental and nongovernmental organizations coordinate and monitor “greening” activities in neighborhoods across the city, helping local groups that are working to maintain existing open space and add more.

The interactive mapping tool is available at bniajfi.org. It uses information from five groups: Baltimore Green Space, Parks and People, Baltimore City Master Gardeners, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the Power in Dirt project. It can help anyone interested in locating the unique, tiny parks and gardens that dot the inner city.

“Until now, no one organization had a clear picture of all the places in Baltimore where communities have come together to take back otherwise vacant and abandoned lots,” said Seema D. Iyer, associate director of the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business, in a statement. “What started out as a predominantly grassroots effort is now recognized as being a significant way to revitalize neighborhoods, reduce water pollution and ultimately improve quality of life in Baltimore.”

BNIA-JFI worked to acquire data from partner organizations and focused on establishing an integrated geodatabase for one overall list of sites. The project was funded in part through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service and its Northern Research Station.

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The planned development at Harbor Point will be the focus of a forum on development to be held on Monday, Dec. 9.

The forum begins at 6 p.m. at the Inn at the Black Olive at 803 S. Caroline St. in Fells Point.

Experts including administrators from Sojourner Douglass College, officials from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and representatives from certain city public schools have been invited to discuss Harbor Point as part of a series called “New Paradigms of Economic Development.”

Harbor Point is planned for the site of the former Allied Signal chromium plant, and a release announcing the forum said panelists “will both ask and answer questions” related to the toxicity of the site.

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This month, Howard Bank celebrated the official opening of its first branch in the immediate Baltimore area.

The bank opened its doors in Towson at 22 W. Pennsylvania Ave. with a regional office. The bank’s headquarters are in Ellicott City and it has branches in Howard, Anne Arundel and Harford Counties. It announced plans earlier this year to grow into the Baltimore market.

“The ability to have hands-on presence in one of our most attractive growth markets fulfills our strategy to show a real commitment to this county,” said the bank’s president and CEO, Mary Ann Scully, in a statement. “We have enjoyed developing a growing number of relationships with Baltimore companies and residents and look forward to working more closely with the community in many ways. This has been a year of incredible opportunity for Howard Bank, and we are always grateful to our team and our customers for making these expansions successful.”

In addition to Towson, the bank recently announced plans to open a new branch on Main Street in Bel Air.

TIDBITS: The Moving Connection, Inc., a moving company, recently leased 37,400 square feet of office and warehouse space at 2659-2667 Merchant Drive in Baltimore. Jamie Campbell, Vince Bagli, Liz Tarran-Jones and Steve Shaw of Merritt Properties helped to ink the deal … Wini Roche, the tourism and marketing manager in Harford County, was tapped earlier this month as the Maryland Tourism Council’s Tourism Person of the Year at the Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve … Retirees living at Charlestown in Catonsville started eating in style this week with the opening of the 96-seat Terrace Room Café. The restaurant, one of six at the massive retirement community, was part of a $2.3 million renovation at Charlestown. It includes a full cocktail bar, a brick hearth oven, a grill and a rotisserie and a yogurt and salad bar. The menu there offers ribs, and pork loin, flatbread pizzas and gourmet burgers … A Roses Discount Store recently opened in the renovated Forestville Plaza Shopping Center in Prince George’s County. The formerly vacant shopping center has new tenants and, at Roses alone, 83 new jobs, county officials say … Officials at Sperry Van Ness – Miller Commercial Real Estate in Salisbury recently completed the sale of 1237 N. Salisbury Blvd. The 8,775-square-foot retail building was a bank-owned property. It sold for $200,000, and plans are to convert it into office space … The high-end, pricey home furnishing store, Lovesac, opened its 54th location last week in the Towson Town Center. The store features “sactionals” — furniture pieces that allow homeowners to rearrange them to fit a space. And we just have to quote the press release: “The most adaptable, adjustable, reconfigurable, forgivable, livable, lovable furniture on earth.”

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