On October 7, the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP), an economic development authority funded by casino revenue, hosted a press conference to announce that $47.7 million has been secured to build wetlands around the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. This funding kicks off Stage I of the Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative (MBRI). GreenVest is thrilled to be SBGP’s implementing partner for the MBRI which is a nationally significant, comprehensive set of shoreline protection, marsh-reestablishment, and stormwater management projects that will work in tandem with the Reimagine Middle Branch Master Plan. This 35-acre project will protect critical infrastructure along the shoreline, including BGE’s Spring Gardens campus and MedStar Harbor Hospital, both of which experience frequent and debilitating flooding.
Stage I is funded through an unprecedented partnership between federal, state, and local leadership, to include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Baltimore City, and Baltimore County. Friday’s event brought these project partners together to celebrate their shared achievement.
GreenVest is proud to be a part of such an influential project that will serve as an example for environmental justice programs nationwide. The Middle Branch has long been ignored and degraded, so the GV team is honored to have the opportunity to rehabilitate the area, providing improved water quality, flood attenuation, aquatic life habitat, and more. Team members in attendance were moved by the words of local leaders, highlighting how important this project is for the individuals of South Baltimore who will finally be able to reconnect with their waterfront. Continue reading for some powerful quotes from a few of Friday’s key speakers.
Brad Rogers, SBGP Executive Director
“For generations, South Baltimore residents have borne the burden of environmental injustice. Their natural waterfront and clean water were taken away and replaced by water that was polluted and hard for them to even access. Today we are beginning to correct this historic injustice, while also protecting these same communities from the future threats of climate change and sea level rise.”
Congressman John Sarbanes
Congressman Sarbanes mentioned the priorities of the project and how it is “focused, in particular, on connecting communities to this waterfront…And that’s the key. You have to have the community input—that directive. And in planning and designing you have to make sure this isn’t just a shoreline for some, that it is an access point for many, particularly including those that are in the communities nearby.”
“This is a world class undertaking with world class expertise being brought to bear in the planning and design.”
Mayor Brandon Scott
“The funding for this initiative will allow us to make significant strides in developing strengths to protect these neighborhoods from storms and flooding while restoring the shoreline of the beautiful Middle Branch of the Patapsco.” “This project is totally in line with the vision that we have for a cleaner, greener, more sustainable Baltimore and I am excited to see Stage I of many kicking off with some pretty innovative work that will totally transform the lives of people who live and work here, as well as those who may choose to come here, like myself, for personal leisure and kayaking.”
County Executive John Olszewski
“…At the end of the day, that is what this project and these efforts are all about: a more resilient, sustainable, clean, renewable, hopeful future for young people.”
“Regional challenges and regional opportunities require regional collaboration.” “A project that addresses resiliency and climate change. A project that addresses water quality and aquatic life. A project that enhances recreational opportunities. A project that drives economic investment in these communities.”
Peggy Jackson-Jobe, Cherry Hill Community Coalition Chair
Ms. Jackson-Jobe recalled the “BELIEVE” billboards that used to stand over the city, saying “[she is] so excited that somebody had the audacity to believe. Someone had the audacity to have a vision, and that vision was for the wetlands here in the Middle Branch area.” “We are sitting here to celebrate the liberation of that vision and I am so excited that residents of the Cherry Hill community get an opportunity to reap the benefits of the wetlands. Because of the wetlands, the flooding will be eliminated around the MedStar Hospital. Because of the wetlands, we will have the opportunity to see the environment enhanced and the landscaping around the Middle Branch area.”
GV is excited to continue working with local Baltimore partners and stakeholders to push forward this transformative suite of projects. Click here to read more about the project to date, and click here and here to read some other articles highlighting this momentous event. Be sure to keep an eye out for our next blog, which will further detail Stage I.