Mayor, DPW, and South Baltimore Gateway Partnership Announce Plan to Leverage Funds for Climate Resiliency and Environmental Health Projects
Friday Dec 10th, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Board of Estimates Approves $5.1 Million to Create Wetlands in Baltimore’s Middle Branch
BALTIMORE, MD. (Friday, December 10, 2021) – This week, the City of Baltimore’s Board of Estimates approved $5.1 million in funds to be administered by the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP), in partnership with City government, toward creating new “constructed wetlands” within the Middle Branch of the Patapsco.
This funding contributes to the Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative (MBRI), a comprehensive implementation strategy to protect South Baltimore neighborhoods from storms and flooding while restoring the shoreline of the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. These integral, coordinated efforts of restoring and reconnecting the Middle Branch are inclusive under the banner of the Reimagine Middle Branch project.
“Today’s funding announcement is a win in support of the neighbors and communities in South Baltimore, which these new wetlands will protect," said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. "As a port city, we must proactively support and complete these types of projects to improve Baltimore's climate resiliency."
The funds approved today are from DPW’s Stormwater Enterprise Fund. Site 5a supports the City’s mandated goal of improving water quality in the Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay by treating stormwater runoff.
“DPW is proud to support the Mayor’s vision of a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable Baltimore City,” said DPW Director Jason W. Mitchell. “This project provides co-benefits to reduce shoreline erosion and improve community resiliency to sea-level rise, coastal storm energy, and flooding. It aligns with the City’s Disaster Preparedness and Planning Project (DP3), which calls for the use of wetlands along the City’s waterfront shoreline to improve resiliency while providing a valuable, sustainable, and resilient amenity for our residents and visitors alike.”
Phase 1 of the MBRI seeks to build wetlands and vegetated berms adjacent to Middle Branch Park in Cherry Hill and Brooklyn and adjacent to BGE’s Spring Gardens natural gas facility in Ridgely’s Cove. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will match the $5.1 million funding from Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) with a grant of $3.5 million. The combined funds will underwrite construction of wetlands and nature-based resiliency features at a City-owned parcel of waterfront land in Brooklyn known as “Site 5a” at South Hanover Street and Frankfurst Avenue.
“The communities of South Baltimore are coming together to reclaim the Middle Branch and its shoreline for a healthy environment and recreation. Developing new wetlands is part of that vision, both to protect critical infrastructure and to create new landscapes where residents can enjoy fishing and boating, and experience new trails and boardwalks along the water,” said Michael Middleton, Executive Director of Cherry Hill Community Development Corporation.
“This site floods regularly, keeping emergency vehicles from reaching Harbor Hospital quickly. We need to create these wetland protective measures to make sure that South Baltimore communities and their resources are protected for the future, long-term. We’re honored to be the gateway stewards of this leveraged funding, working together to have this major, positive impact in Baltimore City,” said South Baltimore Gateway Partnership Executive Director Brad Rogers.
SBGP and Baltimore City eagerly await word from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on whether the project will receive an additional $32 million in grant funds requested through the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, for which it is a finalist, in order to fully realize MBRI Phase 1.