RVP Sneak Peek: Greening a Rail Corridor

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GaySt - 04 19 16

Gay St, Baltimore (Credit: Andy Cook, Baltimore Office of Sustainability)

At the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference, participants have the chance to see first-hand all the great work underway in the host City.

We call these experiences Mobile Workshops, and they are the highlight of the Conference for many attendees. (Spaces are limited, though, so make sure to register ASAP to reserve your spot.)

One of our workshops this year, “Green Tracks: Using a Rail Corridor as a Guide for Greening and Revitalization,” explores a partnership that seeks to eliminate blight along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor by combining strategic demolition with the reuse of vacant land for greening projects. Attendees will visit several green sites along the train line including an urban farm, a neighborhood park, and a flower farm.

To learn a little bit more about this opportunity, we were lucky enough to connect with Jenny Guillaume, environmental planner and Growing Green Initiative coordinator at the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, one of the organizers of this session. Here’s what she had to say:

Can you tell me a little bit about your workshop and what attendees can expect?

Green space in Baltimore (Credit: )

Green space in Baltimore (Credit: Jenny Guillaume, Baltimore Office of Sustainability)

Jenny Guillaume (JG): Attendees will tour the Green Tracks project area that runs along several neighborhoods in East Baltimore. Green Tracks is a City-led initiative that has partnered with Civic Works to eliminate blight along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Green Tracks utilizes two existing City-wide initiatives created by Mayor Rawlings-Blake: Vacants to Value (V2V) and the Growing Green Initiative (GGI). V2V is led by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to develop and execute strategies to comprehensively address Baltimore’s vacant housing and lot inventory. GGI is an effort to create and implement sustainable, innovative, and cost-effective practices for re-using vacant land, reducing stormwater runoff, promoting locally grown food, and greening neighborhoods. Attendees will visit several green sites along the train line including several “Clean and Green” sites and pocket parks, Tha Flower Factory, Gay Street Park as well as artistic boarding examples on vacant buildings and will hear from community members and non-profit partners.

What do you want conference-goers to know about Baltimore before they come?

JG: Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods and I encourage conference-goers to explore a few of our neighborhoods outside of the inner harbor.

What are the benefits of targeting a rail corridor for greening?

E Eager St. Green Space (Credit: )

E Eager St. Green Space (Credit: Laura Connelly, Parks & People Foundation)

JG: The neighborhoods in east Baltimore along the Amtrak line demonstrate many of the issues the City is facing with regard to vacancy and blight. While there is nearby redevelopment activity beginning to strengthen these neighborhoods, there are still large concentrations of vacancy that need to be addressed to achieve neighborhood stabilization. The Green Tracks plan and implementation sees these vacancies as opportunities to strengthen and connect these communities through greening and reinvestment. Permanent enhanced greening sites and public art will provide permanent community amenities, while “clean and green” site improvements and aesthetic boarding address problem areas to stabilize the neighborhoods and increase economic development potential.

What might be most surprising for people attending this workshop?

JG: Participants will get to visit The American Brewery, which is a historic former brewery built in 1887 and was one of the largest breweries in the state of Maryland.