Southeast to pioneer new stormwater systems

Written by on May 8, 2013 in Featured, Neighborhood News - No comments

This green curb bump-out is located on Fleet St., just east of Fleet's intersection with Conkling St. - Photo by Erik Zygmont

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“Blue Alleys” should begin appearing in the Butchers Hill and Patterson Park neighborhoods this summer.

“As we define it, a Blue Alley is a traditional alley that has been converted into a pervious alley,” said Ashley Traut of Blue Water Baltimore, an organization dedicated to restoring the area’s rivers, streams and harbor.

In a pervious alley, some rainwater is absorbed into the ground rather than joining the rush through the stormdrain system and out to the bay.

Traut said that in big storms, an under-drain would funnel stormwater to the traditional draining system, “but we won’t the huge peak discharges that are the problem.”

One Blue Alley is planned for Butchers Hill, on the alley that connects S. Duncan St. with S. Collington Ave., just north of the unit block. Patterson Park has Blue Alleys slated for alleyways connecting N. Rose St. and N. Luzerne Ave., as well as N. Glover St. and N. Lakewood Ave.

In addition to the Blue Alleys, Blue Water Baltimore is planning four green curb bump-outs to the two neighborhoods—at the northwest corner of Lombard and Chester streets; the northwest corner of Fairmount Ave. and Chester St.; the northeast corner of Baltimore St. and Collington Ave.; and the southwest corner of Fairmount and Luzerne avenues.

Traut said that a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, as well as a “substantial match” from the Baltimore City Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Works, have made the $1.2 million project possible.

Traut added that the Harris Creek Small Watershed Action Plan—which calls for, among other things, neighborhood greening projects—made the Southeast a fitting location for the Blue Alleys project. The Harris Creek Watershed covers about two square miles and empties into Baltimore Harbor in Canton.

Specifically, a Butchers Hill Greening Feasibility study made that neighborhood specifically a strong choice for the project, Traut said.

Former Butchers Hill Association president Barry Glassman noted that the Blue Alleys and curb bump-outs can be traced back to a neighborhood master plan released in November 2008. The plan, which included guidelines for preserving Butchers Hill’s neighborhood character, also suggested “stormwater filter bumpouts” at the dead curb spaces resulting from reverse-angle parking.

After the master plan’s release, Glassman recalled, the Butchers Hill Association’s Executive Committee met with a Department of Public Works official who was “very very enthused” by the of catching stormwater. Two DPW interns with special interests in environmental matters then put together the Greening Feasibility study.

Glassman said that he is looking forward to the long-in-the-making implementation of the Blue Alleys and curb bump-outs.

“This is something we need, it’s valuable, and we really need a pilot project, because at some point we’re going to be required to do this,” he said.

Sandy Sales of S. Collington Ave. said that Butchers Hill will be excited to get the environmental improvements.

“Overall, the association is excited about it,” she said, “and we do have a couple of people who have concerns about the fact that the community is taking on the responsibility of keeping these bump-outs clean.”

Sales noted that Butchers Hill is contractually obligated to keep the bump-outs free from debris.

by Erik Zygmont

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