BALTIMORE, MD (February 7, 2006) – Residents in a section of Baltimore City will have a more structured approach to address environmental concerns in their community, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick said in announcing the state’s latest Environmental Benefits Districts (EBDs). Ten neighborhoods in the Monroe-Fulton corridor including Washington Village were selected by MDE as an EBD after community organizations filed an application in September 2005.
“Environmental Benefits Districts are an example of proactive government on behalf of communities,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “An EBD brings together government and stakeholders – citizens and business, for example. It identifies the range of issues that need to be addressed and focuses financial, technical, regulatory, administrative and policy resources to solve problems.”
Easton’s Ward IV was also selected as an EBD this year. In 2004 MDE designated its first EBDs--in portions of central Prince George’s County and eastern Baltimore City. Since that time, MDE has infused a variety of program resources into those districts, including grant funding of nearly $1 million, to improve conditions in those areas.
Concerns in Monroe–Fulton Corridor include:
High incidences of lead poisoning and presence of lead in homes
An abundance of trash and debris that ends up in the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River; debris saturated storm drains that lead to rats and vermin infestations
Numerous vacant industrial sites
Heavy metals in soils
High asthma rates
“There are a lot of exciting things happening in the community and this acknowledgement helps our organization continue to create positive and long lasting changes in the neighborhoods in which we work,” said Lesley Smith, executive director of the Washington Village/Pigtown Neighborhood Planning Council. “MDE has been a critical part of the process and we look forward to growing and strengthening our partnership.”
An EBD can be a single town, several communities, or a region (of a county, for instance). Working with one or more state agencies (as well as local agencies), the district would identify problems that need to be addressed, whether local health issues, a lack of economic development, the existence of brownfield sites or decaying infrastructure. The lead state agency works with other agencies to identify programs that could help solve the district’s problems.
“This is a way for government to be proactive in helping communities identify problems and find solutions, rather than leaving it to citizens to figure out who to call,” Secretary Philbrick added. “It is also a way to make sure that government sets its priorities wisely and uses its resources efficiently.”