Baltimore County Now
Department of Planning
It was a day of reckoning, a day to face the ultimate test. The heat was bearable, but enough to put sweat on the brows of the men in their cotton-wool uniforms. In the afternoon sun astride North Point Road in southeast Baltimore County, the American militia faced the British host.
It was 2 p.m. on Monday, September 12, 1814.
The redcoats had landed in the twilight hours some ten hours earlier, bringing 4,200 veterans of the Napoleonic wars onshore at the tip of the North Point peninsula via all manner of ship, craft and skiff. After barreling through the brush and woods, they marched past one of Baltimore County’s earliest homesteads,Todd’s Inheritance. They were bound for Baltimore, eager to give it a severe lashing. This was the British land operation. Just five miles away as the crow flies, the king’s ships were gearing up to rain bombs down on Fort McHenry.
The American scouts posted at the Todd house had detected the British force and raced north to warn American Brigadier Gen. John Stricker. Stricker sent out a small detachment from his force of 3,200 to probe the British movements. This led to a skirmish and some major consequences before the main battle.
September 12, 1814, is the crux of Baltimore County’s story in the War of 1812. While by no means the whole story, it is the main event. The Battle of North Point unfolded a day before the bombardment of Fort McHenry, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became our National Anthem.
Maryland and other states are now in the midst of a bicentennial commemoration of the War. Baltimore County is pleased to report that key historic sites associated with the Battle of North Point will be getting some much-needed attention. The county has secured funding to make improvements from a variety of sources. Our main goals are to strengthen public access to our top-priority sites, to improve their educational value and visitor appeal, and to advance historic preservation. Our top-priority sites are not only central to the County’s 1812 story, they are destinations on the newly designated Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. They are not just historical artifacts. They are visible, well-known properties woven into the fabric of active communities. Their condition and viability influences the quality of life of the communities in which they reside.
In April, the Department of Planning learned that it will receive a $100,000 grant award to improve Battle Acre Park. The funding from the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission will be matched with $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds put forward by the Department. Battle Acre Park preserves one acre of the land upon which the Battle of North Point was fought. It was donated in 1839 by a local landowner to serve as a commemorative space in which the public can reflect upon the event and remember the soldiers who fought, including 24 Americans who died.
The concept plan for Battle Acre recommends establishing a new pedestrian walkway and plaza area that is needed to provide safe pedestrian access to the site along North Point Road. Sections of the park’s wrought iron fence, which dates to 1914, would be restored and repaired. The park’s granite pillars would be cleaned and improved. A drainage problem would be resolved.
Another preserved piece of the battlefield that lies only 300 feet from Battle Acre, called North Point State Battlefield, is slated for improvement. The recently approved Maryland capital budget includes $500,000 for improving this parcel. The County’s pursuit of this funding was a continuation of County Executive Kevin Kamentz’s request for War of 1812 project funding made last year. This year’s success involved a collaborative, team effort. The county executive and county staff advocated for and supported the request. Delegate John Olszewski, Jr., chairman of the county’s Annapolis delegation, was instrumental in securing the funds, as was Delegate Adrienne Jones and Senator Edward Kasemeyer.
The state and the National Park Service are now collaborating on a final design plan for North Point State Battlefield. Improvements are likely to include a parking area, a loop trail, vegetative screening, interpretive landscaping and other interpretive elements.
Even more good news came when County Executive Kamenetz released his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The County Executive seeks to invest $175,000 in making improvements to Todd’s Inheritance (mentioned above), a signature waterfront gem that was first settled by the Todd family in 1664. April has been a fantastic month the county’s War of 1812 Bicentennial program. We hope to keep the momentum going.
Kevin Koepenick, Manager, Ground Water Management Section
Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection & Sustainability
As the primary agency responsible for permitting domestic wells and septic systems for Baltimore County, my staff and I receive frequent questions from county residents about the safety of their well water. Specifically, they are interested in knowing how often their wells should be tested, what parameters should be tested, and who can do the testing.
I recommended that all private drinking water wells be regularly tested for bacteria. The US EPA recommends testing for bacteria annually, but it is probably most important to test for bacteria immediately following any plumbing work (adding a bathroom, replacing a well pump, etc.) or if you notice your wellhead is damaged or was flooded, or if your well water gets cloudy after it rains. Nitrate levels should also be monitored (but less frequently) to ensure that they are below the 10 ppm standard for drinking water, and pH is important to watch to assess if your water is corrosive. Depending on your specific tastes /preferences, it is also recommended that you test for iron, manganese, chlorides, and hardness. If you notice a gasoline or oily smell in your well water or suspect leakage from a nearby underground fuel storage tank, you should probably have your water tested for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
In certain areas of the county you may also want to test for radium. Testing has confirmed that roughly 10-15% of the wells tested in areas underlain by Baltimore, Setters, and Slaughterhouse Gneiss formations have levels of radium above the US EPA drinking water standards. The good news is that radium is easily removed by a standard water softener (a common water treatment device).
As a private water supply, water quality testing is the responsibility of the homeowner. There are a number of local private laboratories who provide these services. For more details about water quality testing, wells and available labs, go to our website: http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/environment/groundwatermgt/index.html
If you are interested in understanding more about radium, be sure and read the educational booklet entitled ‘Radionuclides and Your Well Water: A Homeowners Guide.” You can also call our office at 410-887-2762 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have.
Youth Services Coordinator
Baltimore County Public Library
Do you want to climb a tree in Toddler Woods? Or crawl among the flowers in the Baby Garden? Or dress up as a familiar storybook character and perform a play in the Theatre? Go to Storyville!
You may have heard the saying “the early years are learning years.” Storyville at the Baltimore County Public Library provides our community with an ideal place to focus on this important age. We know through research that learning begins at birth and that the ages of birth to five are critical learning years. Children who are exposed to books, literacy activities and other learning experiences before they begin Kindergarten have a better chance for later school success.
Storyville is a unique early childhood learning center and library that was designed and created to foster school readiness skills, such as language and literacy, mathematical and scientific thinking, social studies, social and personal skills, physical development and the arts. These skills are integrated into Storyville’s themed learning areas: Baby Garden, Toddler Bay and Toddler Woods, Grocery Store, Mailroom, Puppet Stage & Dress up Theatre, House and Kitchen, Construction Zone and Library. Age appropriate books that support the play themes are included in each learning area.
Storyville is a place where books and purposeful play come together to provide valuable experiences that nurture young children and support parents and caregivers as their child’s first and best teacher as they read, play, and learn together.
Storyville is located in both the Rosedale and Woodlawn branches of the Baltimore County Public Library and is open during library operating hours. Storyville is for children ages birth through five and their parents and caregivers. For more information visit us at www.bcplstoryville.org.