Baltimore County Now
Schools Ask Community Groups, Sports Teams, Businesses to Conduct 15-Minute Litter Cleanups
This morning at Western School of Technology and Environmental Science, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, School Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance and Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) Director Debbie Phelps kicked off year two of an innovative initiative that taps into school spirit and civic pride to reduce litter in Baltimore County communities and waterways.
The “Team BCPS Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge” encourages BCPS schools and groups in their local communities to conduct quick 15-minute litter cleanups. These groups then designate a Baltimore County public school to receive credit toward winning an environmental grant.
“Last year, 3,200 Clean Green 15 volunteers collected tons of litter from our communities, and four of our Baltimore County schools received thousands of dollars in grant funding for school-based environmental projects that will have lasting positive effects,” said Kamenetz. “We are excited about Clean Green 15 in 2015 and are expecting even more wonderful results this year.”
Under this program, BCPS schools and their community supporters will compete to have the most impressive Clean Green 15 results during April and May. Beyond the schools, any type of group is encouraged to participate, including youth groups, places of worship, civic or community groups, scout troops, sport teams, businesses and other organizations that wish to help clean up their community. Groups are asked to report their cleanups on the BCPS website.
Environmental Project Grants
The Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools will award significant monetary grants to the winning schools to fund school-based instructional projects emphasizing the theme of environmental literacy. The top school overall will win a $3,000 grant, with first place grants of $2,000 going to the top elementary, middle and high schools. Grants can be used for school-based environmental projects like installing a reading garden or rain garden, planting trees, diverting downspouts and environmental education projects. Second place schools from each level will win a web-enabled iPad.
A Collaborative Effort
“The Clean Green 15 challenge is a great way for Team BCPS to focus on a clean environment and to show the pride we take in beautifying our schools and communities,” said BCPS Superintendent Dance.
The Team BCPS Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge is a collaborative effort of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Public Schools and the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools. Sponsors include Maryland Environmental Service, the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, Comcast and Sparrows Point Terminal.
“Not only is litter unattractive, it makes its way into our waterways,” said Baltimore County Council Chair Cathy Bevins. “Since my district has most of the County’s waterfront, I’m urging groups all around the County to please take a few minutes to make a difference for our communities and their local school.”
The Litter Problem
The Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability developed a County-wide trash reduction strategy, which focuses on litter in rivers, streams and lakes in Baltimore County. All of the litter on Baltimore County streets and in neighborhoods moves downhill in the direction of drainage. Litter on the land eventually ends up in the water by means of wind and water runoff. Illegal dumping is another way that trash ends up on the banks of the County’s woodland streams.
This trash becomes a threat to wildlife, damaging the aesthetic value of the County's natural resources and deterring recreation in these areas. The trash from County streams and rivers eventually adds to the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.
“The point of Clean Green 15 is that litter doesn’t disappear,” said Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability Director Vince Gardina. “Studies show that the most effective anti-litter strategies focus on fostering an individual, personal obligation not to litter and creating a perception that litter is socially unacceptable. That’s what we are hoping to accomplish with this litter challenge.”
Not-So-Fun Facts About Litter
- An aluminum can takes 200 to 500 years to decompose.
- A cigarette butt takes up to 10 years to decompose.
- A glass bottle takes one million years to decompose.
- Many sources say that plastics are essentially indestructible to some degree or another, but studies have shown that these plastics do break down eventually and release toxic chemicals as they decompose.
- A national study found that the most commonly littered item is cigarette butts. According to the same study, 81 percent of all observed littering occurred with notable intent.
- Factors associated with litter include distance of nearest trash receptacle, presence of existing litter, and age with younger people tending to litter more frequently.
Perry Hall Recreation Council Donated $1.5 Million
Perry Hall youth and adults now have a brand new gymnasium and recreation center that is the realization of what has been a community goal for decades.
This morning, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz led an enthusiastic crowd of recreation and community leaders in the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $3 million Soukup Arena.
For more than 40 years, the Perry Hall Recreation Council, primarily led by longtime president Jerry Soukup and his late wife Pat, raised $1.5 million in funds to cover half of the cost of this project, through the proceeds from a concession stand and events in support of a gymnasium, for the Recreation Council sports leagues. The arena is named in honor of Jerry and Pat Soukup. Since its founding in 1955, Jerry Soukup has been a member of the Perry Hall Recreation Council, serving first as vice president, then as the president since 1988.
A Remarkable Gift
“It’s extraordinary for community members to contribute so much money for a project such as this and the people of Perry Hall should be very proud,” Kamenetz said. “All those years Jerry and Pat Soukup, Fred Levinsky, Willie Rau and others put in the work, and stayed the course to provide a remarkable gift to their community that will keep on giving for generations to come.”
The new 12,000 square foot building includes a 9,000 square foot gymnasium and 3,000 square feet of additional space for recreation and community activities. Construction on the 30-acre parcel of County property at the corner of Joppa Road and Chapel Road in Perry Hall was completed in less than a year.
“Like the Perry Paw Dog Park, the County was able to finish this project thanks to a sizable contribution from volunteers,” said 5th District Councilman David Marks. “I would like to thank the Perry Hall Recreation Council for its remarkable donation and County Executive Kamenetz for his support of the overall project.”
Baltimore County Communications Office
When you think of the West Coast, you think of sunshine, light, and a lot of well-exercised, healthy people. Soon, LA Fitness will bring a touch of the West Coast to downtown Towson with a two-level health and fitness center at Towson Commons. From the building’s rotunda entrance at York Road and Pennsylvania Avenue, guests will be able to see the LA Fitness space, with views to an indoor lap pool and a stair case with glass rails. Light will fill the upstairs space with new windows, opening up what is now a blank wall facing York Road.
“It’s truly Towson’s Time. We are thrilled that LA Fitness is bringing new energy back to Towson Commons,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “This is a great location in the heart of downtown Towson, convenient for workers, students and residents.”
LA Fitness will dramatically transform space that once housed out-of-date movie theatres. The center will feature basketball and racquet ball courts, a spin area with stadium levels, an indoor heated lap pool, whirlpool spa and saunas, personal trainers, and Kids Klub babysitting. Group fitness classes will include yoga, cycling, mat pilates, kickbox cardio, and aqua aerobics.
LA Fitness adds to the growing private investment in downtown Towson. Highlights include the $85 million Towson Square entertainment center, anchored by a 15-screen Cinemark movie theatre and eight restaurants, which began construction in early 2013. More than 1,500 new luxury apartments have been built in downtown Towson over the past four years. The 12-story Towson City Center building at the Towson traffic circle is fully leased and has brought new jobs to the center of downtown with corporate headquarters for MileOne, Remedi Senior Care, and Towson University’s Institute for Well-Being.
Now that’s momentum to rival any West Coast town.