Baltimore County Now
Janette Harris, Adopt-A-Road Coordinator
Bureau of Highways
My favorite road signs sometimes get lost in the clutter of billboards and stop signs and No Parking signs. But a lot of people do notice them because Adopt-a-Road signs mean something nice. They mean that roadsides are being kept neat and clean by people who care. This is important for maintaining good communities in Baltimore County and a rewarding part of my job in the Department of Public Works. You see, I’m the Adopt-A-Road-lady!
The Adopt-A-Road program began almost twenty years ago and has grown steadily. In the first years from its inception, 65 groups from all over the County had signed up to pick up trash along roads and help Bureau of Highways get the job done. We never lost the momentum and today 365 roads have been adopted by a wide variety of public-spirited organizations: schools, church groups, civic organizations – just about anybody who wants to make a difference.
It’s easy to join the Adopt-A-Road program. A group must make the commitment to pick up roadside trash on a regular basis and to abide by a few, simple safety rules. My program gives people an opportunity to help maintain their community by authorizing them to clean up certain streets. It also gives high school students some of the community service time needed to graduate.
Groups apply to participate – the paperwork is simple. Then we give them safety training and hand over basic cleanup equipment with a set of rules to follow. Groups must clean up the area at least four times a year and, of course, everyone must follow all safety rules. Safety is job one! The adoption period lasts two years, but it’s renewable.
In exchange for committing their time, the Bureau of Traffic Engineering puts up a sign announcing that a particular road has been adopted by the organization, and the County provides and collects the trash bags.
The Adopt-A-Road program costs taxpayers very little. In fact, it comes out to less than fifteen dollars a road. For the price of a few of cups of coffee, everyone benefits. Such a deal!
Baltimore County Department of Planning
“Where do baby boomers and millenials want to live?,” Mr. Lee Sobel asked the Baltimore County Planning Board at a recent meeting. Millenials, aged 25-34, with college degrees and technical skills, make up a critical segment of the 21st century workforce. Their baby boomer parents aged 48-67 have the spending power that supports local businesses. Together, they make up half of the U.S. population.
They want to live and work in walkable, bikeable, “smart growth” communities, Mr. Sobel said. But the kinds of communities favored by these two groups are not sufficient to meet demand, according to Mr. Sobel.
Mr. Sobel should know. He is a real estate development and finance analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Sustainable Communities.
Smart growth concentrates development where there is public infrastructure, conserving environmental resources and allowing public dollars to be used more efficiently. This development strategy increases a community’s competitiveness by attracting investment that boosts the local economy.
Baltimore County is a national leader in smart growth, having adopted these basic planning principles with its first master plan in the early 1980s. Residents of Baltimore County benefit from beautiful, open spaces and farms north of the Beltway, balanced by neighborhoods near shopping, schools and recreation in the more densely developed areas of the County. We see smart growth in White Marsh and Owings Mills, the County’s two designated growth areas. We see smart growth in Towson, where 1,500 new luxury apartments, new offices, an $85 million entertainment center already are attracting millenials and baby boomers to downtown.
New smart development concepts continue to come to the County. St. John Properties is developing Greenleigh at Crossroads, a $100 million project that will be Baltimore County's first major Town Center designed around the principles of "new urbanism." The 200-acre development in Middle River will include mid-rise Class "A" office buildings designed to satisfy the needs of large corporate users; a mix of 1,700 detached single family, town homes, multi-family and condos to address the need for quality housing; a network of open spaces and park lands to assure sustainable and environment-friendly development; and a coordinated streetscape that creates a pedestrian-friendly and connected community in the style of traditional neighborhood development. Greenleigh at Crossroads is the latest section to be developed in Baltimore Crossroads, a 1,000 acre mixed-use business community on Maryland Route 43 near Interstate 95 in White Marsh/Middle River.
Walkable? Yes. Bikeable? Yes. Smart growth? Yes.
We think Mr. Sobel would approve.
Director, Baltimore County Office of Budget and Finance
Today at 10 a.m., the Baltimore County Council voted to adopt County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s proposed budget for FY 2014 with only minor changes. The adopted budget totals $2.78 billion — an increase of just 2.81 % above the previous year.
I invite you to take a look at the comprehensive budget originally proposed by the County Executive. Meanwhile, here is the FY 14 adopted budget at a glance: