MBRI Groundbreaking: Hanover Street Wetland Site

On April 19, GreenVest celebrated the groundbreaking of the Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative’s (MBRI) lead project: the Hanover Street Wetland Site. This event, now nearly four years in the making, celebrated the commencement of construction for the first of many of the MBRI’s nature-based resilience projects. The MBRI is the ecological restoration arm of the Reimagine Middle Branch (RMB) Master Plan. GreenVest joined South Baltimore Gateway Partnership; GreenTrust Alliance; Environmental Quality Resources; federal, state, and community leaders; and local residents to commemorate this momentous occasion.

MBRI Groundbreaking – Photo of the Ceremony’s Speakers

Many Federal, State, and Local leaders attended the event – a display of the unprecedented cross-jurisdictional coordination that has made this project a reality. Attendees and speakers included Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Chris Van Hollen’s Baltimore City Regional Director Elonna Jones, Congressman Kweisi Mfume’s Acting District Director Ray Conaway, Senate President Bill Ferguson, Comptroller Brooke Lierman’s Chief of Staff Rianna Matthews-Brown, Mayor Brandon M. Scott, Councilwoman Phylicia Porter’s Chief of Staff Ashia Caraway, Baltimore County Executive John “Johnny O” Olszewski, Jr., Executive Director of the Greater Baybrook Alliance Meredith Chaiken, and Cherry Hill Community Coalition Chair Peggy Jackson-Jobe. The speakers inspired the rapt audience, reflecting on the impact the Hanover Street Wetlands and the MBRI will have on the communities and residents of South Baltimore, the State of Maryland, and the greater Chesapeake Bay region.  Here are some of the inspirational statements made by the day’s presenters:

Senator Ben Cardin said, “Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and erosion are taking aim at our coastal ecosystems. The Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative (MBRI) is part of the incredible effort Maryland is leading to make coastal communities in Baltimore and across the state more resilient and more equitable. This community-led project will help reconnect South Baltimore communities to each other and to their waterways, which for too long have been separated through infrastructure and industrial use.”

Senate President Bill Ferguson stated with emphasis how the MBRI is abig dealand that “[the] nearly $15 million in State funding to help restore 11 miles of shoreline and reconnect surrounding neighborhoods with one of Baltimore’s most important assets, its waterfront, is just the first step in this multi-year commitment.”

Cherry Hill Community Coalition Chair Peggy Jackson-Jobe broke into song, citing McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” correlating the song’s motivating message for prosperity in the face of adversity, with the fulfillment of the MBRI’s promise as a community-driven initiative to advance environmental justice. She said, “I am excited about the Reimagine Middle Branch initiative and how residents and community leaders are involved in reimagining the transformation of the waterfront with eleven miles of parks, trails, and equitable development projects,”

Read more empowering remarks from these leaders here.

This groundbreaking ceremony was representative of a long-standing promise seen to fruition. After 10+ years of community outreach, planning, fundraising, design, and regulatory approvals, the vision of the MBRI is being realized and nature-based solutions are being put in the ground. Community members have acted as project partners of the Reimagine Middle Branch and the MBRI from the beginning, participating in and contributing to an intensive and effective community outreach and engagement plan. As the catalysts, collaborators, and beneficiaries of this restoration work, residents throughout South Baltimore will start to see visible—improvements to the landscape and its resiliency—as construction gets underway.

MBRI Groundbreaking – Signage and Equipment

The MBRI is Maryland’s largest coastal resiliency program, seeking to improve shoreline resiliency, habitat diversity, and water quality along ±11 miles of shoreline of the Patapsco River in Baltimore. MBRI team members have successfully raised more than $70 million in project funding for the creation of living shorelines, tidal marsh systems, stormwater wetlands, resiliency berms, critical area enhancements, and other nature-based solutions. Combining these nature-based solutions with public open space amenities for passive and active recreation such as new trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, boardwalks, and piers, the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River will become a regional destination that will serve tens of thousands of residents of Baltimore, mostly from neighboring underserved communities that have had little access to their own waterfront.

The Hanover Street Wetlands site is funded by Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works and Maryland’s Chesapeake & Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. The project will restore ±10 acres of wetland and shoreline at the South end of the Hanover Street Bridge to improve flood resiliency, water quality, and aquatic habitat. The re-establishment of historical wetlands will provide resiliency to the Hanover Street Bridge, which is a critical thoroughfare for South Baltimore communities. The existing shoreline is eroding away, encroaching on the bridge itself. Restoration of the marshes around the bridge will provide increased protection from storm surge and sea level rise. Following construction, the project area will also be included in the planned RMB trail network, providing access to this open green space and restoring connection to the once popular recreational fishing platform. The citizens of South Baltimore are long-overdue for access to their own waterfront and its amenities, and the groundbreaking of the MBRI is evidence of that environmental justice in action.

In the wake of tragedy with the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, it was inspiring to see so many stakeholders from multiple sectors, jurisdictions, and communities come together to support improved resiliency in South Baltimore. GreenVest is proud to serve as Implementing Partner for this transformational program that will result in significant resiliency, improved ecosystem services, and recreational improvements for these deserving communities.

News coverage of the event can be found at the following links:

MBRI Groundbreaking – GreenVest with SBGP, GreenTrust Alliance, and Environmental Quality Resources