Earth Day 2014: The Greenness of Cities and Towns and Why We Should Invest in Them

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By Richard E. Hall, AICP

On this Earth Day, Marylanders can be proud of their efforts to protect the state’s natural resources, from productive agricultural land to the national gem that is the Chesapeake Bay. This administration has worked hard, along with many others, to protect farmland, forest land, other natural resources and water quality, and we can be grateful that we and future generations can benefit from that.

This is especially important in a growing, but compact state.  To do this well, we need to remember the other side of the smart growth coin:  investing in cities, towns and communities.

Redeveloping and revitalizing in places that are already built, such as Cambridge, is one of the greenest strategies we have.

Redeveloping and revitalizing in places that are already built, such as Cambridge, is one of the greenest strategies we have.

While some might not think of cities as an environmentalist’s dream, the truth is that redeveloping and revitalizing in places that are already built is one of the greenest strategies we have. More

Maryland Arts and Entertainment District Program Revitalizes Communities

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Gateway Arts DistrictDrive into downtown Frederick, Havre de Grace, Hyattsville, Snow Hill, Cumberland and any number of neighborhoods in Baltimore, and you might notice colorful banners proclaiming them as arts districts. Thanks to the state Arts & Entertainment Districts program, art’s profile has been raised in 22 communities across Maryland.

The program, which uses arts and culture as a springboard to spur economic development and community revitalization in Maryland’s downtowns, has created jobs – a whopping 4,000 plus – and new businesses, helped pull off scores of events and festivals, and supported working artists through tax credits. The A&E District program in Maryland, considered a national leader in elevating arts and culture at the state level, won a leadership award February 5 from the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission. More

Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Benefits

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The Benefits of Maryland's Sustainable Communities Tax Credit

The Benefits of Maryland’s Sustainable Communities Tax Credit

The Inner Harbor Comes of Age

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“Hip, cool neighborhoods” are here today because a highway was not built yesterday

Courtesy of the Baltimore City Commission on Historic and Architectural Preservation

Had the highway planners succeeded not so long ago, we would not have Fells Point and Federal Hill as we know these neighborhoods today, as this 1959 drawing shows. Courtesy of the Baltimore City Commission on Historic and Architectural Preservation

Appears in the June 2013 edition of SpinSheet magazine
 

About 50 years ago, highway planners were hard at work on a vision to build I-95 along Baltimore’s waterfront. Dirty, gritty and forlorn, a place for the down and out, the area that was to become the hip, cool neighborhoods we know today as Fells Point and Federal Hill was not much thought about when the highway extension was proposed. Few pondered the negative aspects of wiping out existing communities for something so progressive as an expressway, not to mention the unhappy result that bridging the basin would have meant for the USS Constellation’s permanent berth which would have been cut off from the water by an elevated highway. Quite likely, Canton and Harbor East never would have become the sought-after neighborhoods they are today.

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Governor O’Malley Signs Sustainable Communities Financing Bill Into Law

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2013 tax increment financing law enhances authority for local government funding for community revitalizationMDP new logo and economic development

Press Release: Thursday, May 16, 2013; 10:30 a.m.

BALTIMORE, MD – Governor Martin O’Malley today signed into law a bill passed by the Maryland General Assembly that expands municipalities’ and counties’ authority to finance costs for infrastructure improvements located in or supporting a Sustainable Community through tax increment financing (TIF). More

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