Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (August 14, 2003) -- Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) officials joined U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), City of Baltimore and other community leaders today to kick-off a new initiative aimed at increasing environmental compliance as a step toward revitalization of the Park Heights community in northwest Baltimore.

A major priority for the community is addressing environmental concerns which range from public health concerns to pollution from small auto body and repairs shops in the community. In this context, MDE secured federal assistance to implement an Environmental Results Program in Park Heights and EPA has designated the project as a National Revitalization Demonstration Model.

“This project is an important initial step toward forging collaborative relationships between businesses, local residents and regulators with the aim of protecting the environment, seeking solutions and encouraging compliance and support of economic development,” MDE Acting Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick said of the of program.

Led by a partnership between MDE, EPA, the Park Reist Corridor Coalition, and the Park Heights Community Health Alliance, the Environmental Results Program will include development of a Community Perception Survey and provide training and assistance to auto body and repair shops to help them comply with environmental laws and encourage environmentally sound practices. These actions will serve as a catalyst for much needed economic development, environmental protection, and sustainable development activities in the area.

The compliance assistance portion of the program is underway and has three phases. The first phase identifies over 50 facilities that were randomly inspected. Statistical analysis of the information obtained from this process generated a baseline assessment of the facilities’ compliance with environmental regulations. The compliance assistance or second phase consists of training facility operators and community leaders in utilizing a newly created workbook on environmentally safe practices. The third part of the project will re-inspect the auto body and repair shops to ascertain how the intervention affected practices at the shops. The project will be augmented with a Community Perception Survey. In this way, the project will apply the methodology developed to assist the Park Heights community to better focus and measure its efforts to implement revitalization plans.