Unified Purpose on Display at Town Hall Safety Meeting

Town Hall Safety Meeting
Panel addresses audience at the Town Hall Safety Meeting held last month.

By Barbie Klik, Safety Committee Chair

On February 1st, about 240 neighborhood residents and MICA students gathered to discuss how we can make Bolton Hill a safer community.

Facilitated by Reverend Grey Maggiano of Memorial Episcopal, the event was attended by Mayor Catherine Pugh, Commissioner Kevin Davis, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Councilman Eric Costello and others. The Town Hall Meeting notes includes a full list of panel guests and other details.

During the two-hour gathering, many ideas were exchanged and everyone walked away with a shared sense of purpose and strategies to make Bolton Hill safer. 

MICA President and Bolton Hill resident Sammy Hoi kicked off the event by describing how the community can engage MICA security. Hoi and MICA Security Director Marlon Byrd explained that MICA security guards, including both armed, off-duty police officers and unarmed officers, generally have four guards on neighborhood streets at all times. Although MICA guards do not have jurisdiction off of MICA property, they will assist any resident who requires assistance.

club cars
Midtown Benefit District’s new “Club Cars” will be on the streets in March.

Bolton Hill is one of the four neighborhoods covered by the Midtown Benefits District (MBD). Executive Director Michelle Wirzberger explained that they spend 21% of their budget on safety, some $250,000 annually, including 17 off-duty BPD officers who patrol the neighborhoods on a rotating basis.

MBD just received a small fleet of Club Cars to supplement its current security patrol capabilities. Used in conjunction with the Segways already in use, these cars will allow MBD officers to increase their patrol capacity by about 25%. Look for them on Bolton Hill’s streets beginning in early March.

State’s Attorney Mosby gave an impassioned description of the effects that community impact statements and community involvement can have during the criminal sentencing process. She explained that because her office has no control over sentences, community involvement at sentencing is the best way to influence the outcome for violent offenders.

State’s Attorney liaison Ashe Smith monitors the arrest and trial proceedings for violent crimes in the neighborhood and alerts the MRIA Safety Committee when sentencing is scheduled so that we can organize residents to show up. Mr. Smith reminded the audience of the importance of having victims testify at a trial, as many cases are thrown out due to a lack of witnesses.

Focusing on the juvenile justice system, Gavin Patashnik, Chief of Juvenile Justice for the State’s Attorney’s Office, outlined various diversion programs for juveniles, and encouraged the neighborhood to get involved with them.

In particular, Mr. Patashnik mentioned the excellent youth programs at Reservoir Hill’s St. Francis Neighborhood Center.  Coincidentally, the MRIA Social Action Task Force highlighted this organization, along with the Kids Safe Zone, during February’s Party with a Purpose. He also mentioned the Reading Partners mentoring program, another local organization which SATF has promoted and supported. See related article here. (See related article on St. Francis Neighborhood Center in this issue.)

Although laws limit the information that can be shared with the community regarding a specific juvenile crime, Mr. Patashnik noted that here too impact statements are effective for guiding sentencing. If the community is concerned about a crime involving a juvenile, Mr. Smith should be notified with the case number, so that he can advocate for our interests. Without such notification, the State’s Attorneys usually becomes aware of a case much later in the process due to the special rules governing the juvenile justice system.

Commissioner Davis, Chief Robinson and Major Jones of Baltimore City Police reiterated that if you see suspicious activity, call 911. Try to provide as much detail as possible, including height, hair characteristics, and clothing, especially descriptions of shirts and shoes, since a coat or sweater can be easily discarded.

Moreover, they reminded us that most crimes are based upon opportunity. Watch your surroundings and walk confidently, while avoiding the distraction of earbuds and displaying your phone as little as possible.

Police Lieutenant Samuel Hood III discussed CitiWatch, encouraging neighbors to send crime video directly to him via email to Samuel.hood@baltimorepolice.org. Include the date and location of incident, your name, address, email, phone number, description of perpetrator. Type and color of shoes are important, as are the clothes under the jacket.

The night finished with a discussion of the Community Conferencing Center by Founding Director Lauren Abramson. The group facilitates many mediation efforts, but a main focus is restorative justice. Similar to Truth and Reconciliation programs, the volunteer program brings together perpetrators, victims and both sets of families/supporters to discuss the crime and appropriate punishment. This approach has been shown to reduce recidivism and, more importantly, help victims of crime get closure. (See related article on Community Conferencing in this issue.)

The event is already producing results as more neighbors met recently to ramp up the work of the Safety Committee. Email Barbie at barbie.klik@blackrock.com if you are interested in working on this committee. And stay tuned for updates on these efforts in the Bulletin.

Safety Recommendations from MICA Security, BPD, and MRIA:

  • Keep porch lights on at night.
  • Install lights near garages, back fences, parking areas, dark spaces.
  • Trim trees and shrubs that can be used to hide criminal activity.
  • Install private cameras.
  • After you report a crime, also send the information to BHEN (linda.rittelmann@gmail.com) to ensure that the neighborhood is on alert. 
  • Walk with a dog or another person or use the Companion App.
  • Carry a whistle or a boat air horn.
  • If you are inside your house and hear a whistle, look outside to determine if someone needs help.  Call 911 immediately. Help if it is safe to do so. 
  • Don’t talk on cell phone or use ear plugs while walking during the day or night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Engage with people on the street. Make eye contact and say hello. 
  • Report suspicious behavior to police using 911 (not 311).
  • Always lock your car doors and remove any and ALL items from the car—even empty fast food bags or trash. Any items left in the car can tempt criminals. 
  • Join COP (Citizens on Patrol)*.
  • Follow court cases; go to court during trial; file an impact statement with the court.
  • Get to know your neighbors at block parties and other neighborhood events. 
  • Get involved. 25% of city residents are living in poverty, and you can take social action. Join Big Brothers/Big Sisters or the MRIA Social Action Task Force

*COP is increasing the number of groups walking the neighborhood, at night and in the mornings. Barry and Barbara Blumberg coordinate an evening walk every Thursday evening starting from 1329 Bolton (410-669-0175 or theblumbergs@earthlink.net).

Jonathan Claiborne leads a walk every Monday evening beginning at the corner of Bolton and Lafayette (jeclaiborne10@gmail.com), and Jack Brown leads a walk on Monday and Wednesday mornings (reach him at NextDoor). 

Community Conferencing Reduces Crime and Empowers Communities

Dr. Lauren Abramson spoke to February’s Town Hall Safety Meeting about her work with a new method for providing resolution to victims and perpetrators in the aftermath of crimes. We wanted to learn more about her Community Conferencing Center.

Lauren Abramson and the Community Conferencing Center
Lauren Abramson and the Community Conferencing Center.

In 1994, Dr. Lauren Abramson attended a conference in Philadelphia and heard a talk on Transformative Justice by Australian David Moore. This led to participating in the first facilitator training workshops on restorative justice conducted in the United States.

As she learned more, Lauren became keenly interested in bringing community conferencing to inner-city Baltimore. She saw its potential to not only bring about important system reforms in criminal justice and education, but to also empower individuals, families and communities to resolve their own conflicts and crimes.

After years of work, the Community Conferencing Center (CCC) opened its doors in 2000. The CCC is the only broad-based conferencing program in a large American inner-city. Even more noteworthy, most its services are provided at no cost to participants.

Widely recognized for its use of restorative justice and conflict management strategies, the model developed by CCC has found success in a variety of settings, including criminal justice, education, community development and business, addressing a variety of issues and a wide range of populations.

They now serve as a hub for training and technical assistance in Maryland, working in over a dozen jurisdictions. With requests for assistance from other states as well as countries, the center works nationally and internationally to help communities establish similar restorative justice programs.

The Process Works

The CCC takes a radical approach: they provide ways for people to resolve situations and build community by sitting in a circle and talking with each other.

Based on the principles of conflict transformation and community justice, the CCC provides ways for people to safely, collectively and effectively prevent and resolve conflicts and crime.

This approach has been uniquely effective at resolving the conflicts around crime between the victims and the perpetrators. Nearly 20,000 people in Baltimore have successfully resolved their own crimes and conflicts using the CCC.

The results speak for themselves:

  • Over 95% of the community conferences conducted result in a written agreement, with an over 90% compliance rate.
  • Young people who participate in a successful community conference re-offend at a rate 60% lower than those who go through the juvenile justice system.
  • For juvenile felony cases diverted to community conferences instead of going through the court system, young people are half as likely to be re-arrested after 1 year, and a third as likely after 2 years.
  • Community conferencing costs a tenth of what it costs to go through the courts.

Community conferencing creates a fourfold benefit by holding offenders accountable and including victims in deciding outcomes, while lowering repeat offenders and reducing costs.

Learn more on the Community Conferencing website.

Join the MRIA Board

The Mt. Royal Improvement Association seeks new members for its Board each year. The Nominating Committee, chaired by Past President Steve Howard, is seeking interested neighbors who are interested in joining the Board.

If you or someone you know would be interested, please email Steve at stevehoward.howard@gmail.com.

DEADLINE for submissions is March 15, so write to Steve today.

The next MRIA Board Meeting will be Tuesday, March 7 with socializing at 7:30 and the formal meeting at 8 pm. Open to all.

Traffic Survey Needs Your Input

Many thanks to those of you who have helped MRIA’s Traffic Committee promote pedestrian and motorist safety in Bolton Hill by providing input through their online survey. If you haven’t yet taken the survey, it’s not too late!

Follow this link to complete the four-page survey.

Your responses will help MRIA prioritize safety initiatives and provide vitally important observations to support requests for traffic studies at problem intersections throughout Bolton Hill.

There is strength in numbers, so please help out.

If you’d like to get involved with the MRIA Traffic Committee, please contact Steven Skerritt-Davis, swdavis80@gmail.com.

Time to Renew Parking Permits

All current residential parking permits will expire March 31. You may renew and pay for your permits online at the Parking Authority website beginning February 20. Residents who are new to an RPP area must apply for permits in person. More information about residential parking permits is available here.

Permits and visitors passes are $20 each.

Purchase your permits online at least three days before you plan to pick up. Bolton Hill has scheduled two Neighborhood Pickup Days, Saturday, March 18, from 8 am to 12 noon, and Saturday, March 25, from 8 am to 1:30 pm, at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church on Lafayette and Park Ave. Enter at the Lafayette St. door.

You can also obtain your permits at the Parking Authority Office, 200 W. Lombard Street, Suite B, 21201. Office hours are 8 am–5 pm, Monday through Friday. Plus, the office will be open for one Saturday, March 18 from 9 am to 1 pm, and open late one night, Thursday, March 30 until 8 pm.

TIP: you can park for free at the Arena Garage (entrance at 99 S. Howard St.) with validation from the Parking Authority Office.

In addition to credit cards, the Parking Authority also accepts checks and money orders made out to the Director of Finance. Cash is not accepted. Whether at a Neighborhood Pickup or at the Parking Authority Office, you will need to present current documentation when picking up your permits. These documents include your current Maryland Vehicle Registration with an Area 3 address, plus one of the following that shows an Area 3 address:

  • Current driver’s license
  • Proof of residency, such as a current lease signed by all parties that is not month-to-month.
  • Proof of home ownership (settlement papers)
  • Utility bill in your name that is at least 30 days old
  • Official State ID card

If your vehicle is registered out of state, you must register your vehicle in Maryland before being permitted to purchase a parking decal, unless you are a full-time student or a member of the military.

Out-of-state students and military must purchase a Non-Resident Permit from the MVA and present it at pick-up for the decal to be released.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Parking Authority at rpp@bcparking.com or 443-573-2800, extensions 863, 845, or 851. You may also contact your Area 3 representative, Patsy Andrews, by email at pandrewsmd@yahoo.com.

When you pick up your passes, give a big thanks to Patsy, who has organized our convenient neighborhood pickup for many years.

Town Hall on Safety Scheduled for February 1

The Brown Center at MICA

Recent events in Bolton Hill have raised concerns about safety. In response, MRIA’s Safety Committee and MICA have organized a Town Hall Meeting on Safety for Wednesday, February 1, 6–8 pm in Falvey Hall (1300 W. Mt. Royal Avenue), the large auditorium on the lower floor of the all-glass Brown Center on the MICA campus. Everyone is invited to this community-wide meeting. 

The meeting will focus on prevention and the specific actions each of us can take to make Bolton Hill safer for all.

Reverend Grey Maggiano (Memorial Episcopal) will moderate. Attendees will hear from Sammy Hoi (President of MICA), Major Kevin Jones (Central District Police Commander, Baltimore Police Department), Marlon Byrd, (Director of Campus Safety, MICA), Eric Costello (City Councilman), Ashe Smith (Liaison the State Attorney’s Office), and Michael Marcus (President, MRIA.)

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, Mayor Catherine Pugh, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and City Council President Jack Young have been invited but not yet confirmed.

The program will allow time for plenty of questions from the audience. Attendees will be invited to submit questions in writing at the event, as the organizers want to ensure that all of questions are addressed, even if time runs out.

Vendors representing security systems, outdoor camera installers, and safety lighting will be on hand to answer questions, and provide details and discounts on their products. Plus, volunteers will demonstrate how to set up the “Find My Phone” app.

 

SATF Potluck with a Purpose and Plans for 2017

On Sunday, December 11, MRIA’s Social Action Task Force (SATF) organized a Potluck Party with a Purpose. In the aftermath of this year’s divisive elections, the SATF thought more neighbors might want to get involved in their community-building efforts.

Over 30 attended the meeting with dishes in hand. SATF reviewed the group’s accomplishments and looked forward to projects planned for 2017.

SATF Potluck, December 2016
People attending the SATF Potluck in December review the group’s accomplishments in 2016.

SATF members explained the group’s establishment by MRIA in the wake of the unrest in spring 2015. Following those events, neighbors wanted to find ways that residents could make a positive impact in the 21217 community.

At that time, they developed the following mission statement: “To encourage, facilitate, and initiate personal engagement between the Bolton Hill neighborhood and the surrounding 21217 community. By highlighting the many great organizations serving our community, we hope that our collective efforts will create a more healthy, vibrant, just, and safe community for everyone.”

The group decided to focus their efforts on supporting existing organizations in the neighborhood, rather than setting their own agenda. They chose three methods for supporting these organizations:

  1. Organizing Parties with a Purpose
  2. Creating and promoting a Community Asset List to facilitate and encourage more neighborhood involvement
  3. Organizing neighborhood efforts to actively support organizations  

Thus far, the SATF has organized five Parties with a Purpose, as well as a book drive for Reading Partners and a Stoop Party group walk to the No Boundaries Block Party last June. They also published the Community Asset List on the Bolton Hill Bulletin website and published a Holiday Volunteer Guide to encourage neighbors to volunteer for local organizations during the holidays.

SATF events have collected approximately $2,000 in donations and have funneled volunteers and other support to twelve non-profit organizations serving the 21217 area. This Powerpoint slideshow provides an overview of the SATF’s impact thus far.

Potluck attendees went on to discuss plans for 2017, coming up with many creative suggestions. The SATF collected these Potluck Wall Responses to a series of questions that were posted around the meeting room.

The SATF encourages everyone to get involved by attending one of their monthly meetings or their next Party with a Purpose. If you’d rather donate money or have volunteer time, review the Community Asset List and Holiday Volunteer Guide for ideas.

The next SATF meeting is scheduled for Sunday, January 8, 5 pm at 1309 Bolton St. (Kellie’s & Rob’s house.) On the agenda: planning the next Party with a Purpose, slated for sometime this winter.

Bake Sale Raises Money for Mt. Royal Elementary

In October, neighbors Powell Perng and Stacy Wells met with Principal Grotsky at Mt. Royal Elementary to discuss fundraising goals.

From that meeting, Stacy saw an opportunity to raise additional funds by selling baked goods at the Bolton Hill Garden Club Greens Sale at Brown Memorial Church. The proceeds from the bake sale would go towards funding a 6th-grade student for the annual NorthBay Adventure Camp trip in May 2017.

The camp is a week-long overnight camp where students learn about leadership, environmental stewardship, and teamwork.

MRIA’s Churches and Schools Committee offered to donate baked goods, and, led by famed holiday bakers Marjorie Forster and Barbara Francis, they supplied a sleigh-full of treats for the sale.  In all, $267 was raised by the sale, enough to subsidize 1 or 2 summer camp attendees.

Thanks, Stacy and Powell, for your organizational efforts!

New Bulletin Feature: Meet Our Sponsors

With the beginning of a new year, we are introducing a new monthly feature, Meet Our Sponsors, to the Bolton Hill Bulletin. 

Each month, we’ll highlight one of the wonderful group of businesses and organizations that provide financial support for the publication of the Bulletin, as well as general funding for MRIA’s many other projects.

Most of our sponsors have been with us for years, and we are very grateful for their loyal support. But the new year brings some new faces, including C&H Restoration and Chainlines, plus our featured sponsor this month, The Brass Tap. We offer all of them a warm welcome and our sincere thanks.

We hope this feature will help all of us know more about our neighborhood, and we encourage you to support our sponsors as they support us.

TIP for readers: Click on a sponsor’s ad to go to their website for additional information (try it). You can also find an alphabetical listing for all our sponsors with their contact information on our Sponsor page (or, from the main menu at the top of each page, click on “Sponsors”).

We still have openings for two additional sponsors this year. If you or someone you know might be interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact the editors at bhbeditormail@gmail.com for more information.

SATF Potluck with a Purpose

Decorating Pumpkins at October's Halloween fest
Decorating Pumpkins at October’s Halloween fest

Got the post election blues? Want to join your neighbors in accomplishing projects that will help our community?

Then join the party at the next Social Action Task Force event – a Potluck with a Purpose on Sunday, December 11 from 6 to 8 pm in the Upper Parish Hall of Memorial Episcopal Church (enter on the Lafayette St. side).

Please bring something to share, both food and wine or other beverages.

The group will first review their mission with MRIA and the work that’s been completed in 2016 as preparation for the main focus of the meeting – discussing the SATF’s goals and plans for 2017.

Seeking A Few Great Sponsors

sponsorsAs we roll into 2017, the Bolton Hill Bulletin has a few openings for new sponsors. If your business or organization is interested in reaching, as well as supporting, our neighborhood, please consider becoming one of our 24 sponsors.

In the past year, advertisements on the Bulletin website were displayed between between 400–1,200 times each day, varying widely depending on the time of month. On release dates at the beginning of each month, the number of ad views have exceeded 2,000.

Compare this online advertising to the number of views possible in our printed newsletter (discontinued in 2016), which was distributed to just a few hundred subscribers once per month, read once or a few times, and then discarded.

Since Bulletin readers can access all of the articles, event listings, neighborhood news and past issues anytime they want – 24/7— it doesn’t take much figuring to see how much potential exposure your business or organization will receive by supporting the online Bulletin.

Truly, this is a win for everyone, as you will be supporting both the Bulletin and the work of the Mount Royal Improvement Association.

What’s the Deal?

Each sponsor’s individual ad rotates randomly into the four ad spaces that appear in the right hand column of each web page. A different set of ads appears in the ad spaces each time a web page is opened by a reader, so each business or organization gets an equal share of views.

Since we limit the total number of sponsors to a maximum of 24, on average, your ad will appear on every 6th page opened by any visitor. Plus, each ad provides a clickable link directly to your website, so that readers can find more information about you.

The Bulletin‘s main menu, which appears at the top of the page, prominently displays the link to our Sponsors’ Page, with an alphabetical listing of all our sponsors. Each sponsor’s listing can include contact information, a short tagline or description and an additional link to their website. This listing basically functions as a second ad for no extra charge.

In 2017, we are also adding a new feature. Each issue will include a Meet Our Sponsors post that will highlight one or two of our sponsors. The editors will work with you to craft a short piece that introduces your business or organization to our readers by highlighting your work.

Our rates remain the same for 2017 as they have been for years, $180/year for a full-size ad in all eleven issues and a full year of online presence, providing great value for your advertising dollar.

If you or someone you know might be interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact the editors at bhbeditormail@gmail.com for more information.

Madison Park North Redevelopment Announced

On September 26, the Coalition for the Redevelopment of Madison Park North announced that the redevelopment of the subsidized housing complex at the southern end of Reservoir Hill would move forward with two longtime Baltimore developers.

Madison Park North as it currently stands.
Madison Park North as it currently stands.

The developers, Mark Renbaum of MLR Partners and David Bramble of MCB Real Estate, have communicated to representatives of the Friends of Reservoir Hill that they intend to work with the community to provide buildings that will be sensitive to residents’ needs and desires, as well as the style of the neighborhood. They envision the redevelopment serving as a gateway to West Baltimore and consisting of apartments, retail, and an Innovation Center to be used by MICA and Coppin State University.

Madison Park North redevelopment rendering
Architects’ rendering of Madison Park North redevelopment.

Demolition of Madison Park North is slated to begin within the next couple months. Market analysis will inform the rebuilding plans that will follow. The redevelopment will encompass the one and a half blocks that was the site of the former housing complex, the liquor store at the corner of Linden and North Avenues, and a new three-story building next door to Total Health Care.

The Coalition for the Redevelopment of Madison Park North meets on the fourth Monday of every month at 7 pm at the St. Francis Neighborhood Center in Reservoir Hill.

Mt. Royal Streetscaping to Begin Spring 2017

bike-lanesBy Steve Howard

As many of you may recall, the city has long planned to install bicycle lanes along Mt. Royal Avenue. Almost three years ago, after a public meeting in February 2014, and discussion at the April 2014 MRIA board meeting, John Kyle, then-president of MRIA, wrote a letter to the Director of Transportation, explaining a number of our concerns. After another public meeting on August 1, 2016 at University of Baltimore and several more meetings, many of those concerns have been addressed, and the plan is moving forward.

There will be two-directional bicycle traffic along the north/east side of Mt. Royal Avenue, separated from traffic lanes. While it is impossible at this time to extend the bike lanes all the way to North and Guilford avenues, the city hopes to add those extensions in the future.

Special pedestrian-friendly crossing signals will be implemented at the busiest intersections. These signals go to “walk” five seconds before the traffic light in the same direction goes green, which allows pedestrians to get well into the crosswalk before turning drivers usurp their right of way.

To accommodate these changes, the median of Mt. Royal Avenue will be slightly narrowed, and some trees will be removed and replaced. Although technically outside the scope of this project, the city also has committed to repairing the sidewalks in front of the houses along the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Mt. Royal.

Construction is expected to start in spring of 2017. The city intends to divert much of the northbound traffic to Charles St. and the JFX onramp at Penn Station. We hope that some of that diversion will be permanent.

The Dolphin Building disappears, as the site is readied for a new MICA building
The Dolphin Building disappears, as the site is readied for a new MICA building

In a separate project just off Mt. Royal near the Light Rail Station, the Dolphin Building has been torn down and the site is being prepared for construction of a new MICA building. Watch this space as this building project moves forward.

The Baltimore Bikeshare program will also launch soon. Residents will be able to use a bike for a small fee, allowing them to get around more easily when they don’t really need to drive. More info on proposed locations, including those in and around Bolton Hill is available at https://www.bmorebikeshare.com. A limited number of Founding Member passes were still available for purchase as of press time.

Fall Crime Stats and Safety Tips

The Safety and Security Committee reported at MRIA’s October meeting about crime trends in the neighborhood over the past few years, measures undertaken by Baltimore Police and MICA to respond to recent upticks in crime, and things residents can do to improve neighborhood safety.

2015 saw a 138% increase in violent crime compared to 2014. This year, violent crime is down 35% from last summer and 39% for the entire year to date. However, the violent crime rate this year to date is still up 44% this year in comparison to 2014.

Bolton Hill crime statistics for 2014-2016 compiled by MRIA's Safety Committee
Bolton Hill crime statistics for 2014-2016 compiled by MRIA’s Safety Committee

In the past year, Baltimore Police and MICA have increased patrols in the neighborhood. Baltimore Police has a car stationed in the neighborhood during the swing shift, and we can often get an overtime car. MICA now has 3 to 4 officers on duty at all times, increased from 1-2 officers, and can have up to 6 officers on duty at peak times.

Even with increased coverage, patrol can’t be everywhere at every minute. The Safety Committee would like to remind residents of common-sense steps everyone can take to promote safety in Bolton Hill.

  1. Talk to your neighbors. Keep each another informed!
  2. Call 911, not 311. Report all crimes to the police by calling 911. You can also submit a report online. If calling in a report, be sure to ask for an incident report number.
  3. Report incidents to BHEN. Send information about any incidents to BHEN@boltonhill.org. Serious incidents are crossposted on BHEN, NextDoor (https://boltonhill.nextdoor.com), and MRIA’s Facebook page.
  4. Install a security camera. If you are interested in installing security cameras on your property, check out this FAQ.
  5. Join the Citizens on Patrol (COP). COP is increasing the number of groups out walking the neighborhood, at night and in the mornings. Barry and Barbara Blumberg coordinate an evening walk every Thursday evening starting from 1329 Bolton (410-669-0175 or theblumbergs [at] earthlink.net), Jonathan Claiborne leads a walk every Monday evening beginning at the corner of Bolton and Lafayette (jeclaiborne10 [at] gmail.com), and Jack Brown leads a walk on Monday and Wednesday mornings (reach him at NextDoor).
  6. Get the Companion app. The popular Companion app, which alerts a friend to walk with you virtually, can be found online herebSafe is another app that also tracks your movements and shares them with selected friends; find it online here.
  7. Stay lit. Leave your front and back lights on at night, and report any dysfunctional street lights to 311.
  8. Lock things up. Keep your back gate locked and make sure all other locks on your property are working properly.

Cameras and Communication: MRIA updates

MRIA focused on two important topics at their first meeting following the summer break, held, as always, on the first Tuesday of the month: security cameras and the new neighborhood communication plan.

security-cameraSecurity Cameras

At September’s Board meeting, the Safety and Security Task Force updated attendees on the Security Camera Initiative. With Jill Kingery recently stepping down from this task force (a big thanks to her for all the hard work), the reins have been picked up by co-chairs Barbie Klik and Richard Dunfee.

To take a proactive stance toward neighborhood security, the Task Force, with the help of neighbor David Scott, conducted an email survey which revealed that at least 60 people in the neighborhood were interested in finding out more about security cameras.

They then researched how individual households could install such cameras to protect their own property and increase security for neighbors. Once installed, cameras can be registered with CitiWatch to provide information to police if a crime occurs nearby.

The Task Force has posted a great deal of valuable information online in a Google Drive folder. If you don’t already have one, you will need a free Google account to access this folder.

The information includes a fact sheet that provides lots of tips for installing a system, including the pros and cons of different types of cameras and professional vs. DIY installation. David noted that some homeowners’ insurance policies provide discounts if security cameras are installed.

The information folder also contains sample proposals from three contractors deemed suitable for installing systems on houses in historic neighborhoods. These installers have agreed to provide a discount to Bolton Hill residents in support of this effort.

David reminded everyone that all exterior projects, including camera installations, should be presented to the Architecture Review Committee for approval before proceeding.

Communications PlanMRIA Communications Plan Including a NEW Website

Under the direction of Second Vice President Linda Rittelmann, MRIA has undertaken a major and much-needed update to all of its communications systems, including email,the Bolton Hill Electronic Network (BHEN), social media and other online resources.

As part of this effort, all communications to MRIA members and BHEN have been consolidated onto the same platform, providing an easier, more secure and more stable tool for these important messages.

The next step is to build a new website to replace BoltonHill.org, which was state-of-the-art at one time, but is now in desperate need of an overhaul. With Executive Committee backing and Board approval at September’s meeting, work is underway to identify a professional website designer to build the new site. A budget of up to $5,000 was approved for this project, and an RFP has been circulated.

It is hoped that the new website will be live in early winter 2017.

If you know a web designer to recommend, or if you yourself would be interested in bidding on this work, please email Linda at Linda.Rittelmann [at] gmail.com.

As part of these changes, the Bulletin Board and Home Improvement Directory are no longer available. The new, improved website will resurrect the Home Improvement Resource Directory in a new format to allow crowd sourced input and recommendations.

However, the Bulletin Board communications are being replaced by the MRIA Facebook page and with NextDoor, a private, web-based bulletin board that provides the same functionality as the Bolton Hill Bulletin Board did, but with more features. Both services are free.

Next Meeting & More

The next MRIA Board Meeting will be on Tuesday, October 4 at 8 pm in Farnham Hall at Memorial Episcopal Church. Socializing and light refreshments start at 7:30 PM. Everyone is welcome to attend.

This issue of the Bulletin also details two other items mentioned at MRIA’s September’s meeting:

Privette Sentenced Sept. 21

The sentencing hearing in the state’s case against Michael Privette, convicted of multiple sexual assaults, including in Bolton Hill, took place on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, Privette pleaded guilty to four instances of sexual assault and was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with all but 40 years suspended.

Six women and three men from Bolton Hill attended the hearing in support of the victims. A community victim impact statement was written on behalf of the neighborhood and submitted to Assistant State’s Attorney Trey Perkins, who read the statement before Judge Wanda K. Heard.

The hearing closed this case just a year after the Bolton Hill crimes occurred. For more on the hearing and the cases involved, please see the full Sun article.

MRIA Plans New Boltonhill.org Website

Communications PlanMRIA may have suspended board meetings over the summer, but a group of dedicated board members were busy during the summer break.

During the downtime, Board members developed a plan to update and overhaul MRIA communications. The goal is to better integrate and streamline the systems already in place, including the main BoltonHill.org website, the Bulletin website, MRIA’s Facebook presence, the Bolton Hill Email Network (BHEN) and email communications.

With Executive Committee backing, plans for the communications overhaul will be submitted to the Board for its approval at September’s meeting.

The much-needed upgrade of MRIA’s website is the key component of the communications plan, and MRIA will be seeking the names of capable web designers interested in working with the organization on this project. Designers interested in bidding on this work should email Linda Rittelmann. An RFP will be sent out to those who have voiced interest after the Board approves the plan.

As the MRIA communications plan moves forward, the current Bolton Hill Bulletin Board and HIRD (Home Improvement Resource Directory) features on the current Boltonhill.org website will be discontinued in the near future to avoid paying a costly annual licensing fee. For many years, the Bulletin Board has been a valuable service to the neighborhood, but other free, easily accessible social media apps such as Next Door and MRIA’s page on Facebook have made it obsolete. The HIRD will be resurrected as a crowdsourced function on the new website.

Please come to September’s Board meetings on Tuesday, September 6 to hear more about the communications plan. MRIA Board Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of every month from September through May. Meetings begin at 8 pm, with socializing over wine and other refreshments starting about a half an hour before that.

Board meetings are held in the Parish Hall at Memorial Episcopal, 1407 Bolton Street, and all neighbors are invited to attend. Please enter the Parish Hall on the Lafayette St. side.

MRIA Briefs

Useful information from the last Board Meeting on June 7th:

Neighborhood Safety

Major Russell reported that an officer has been assigned to patrol the neighborhood at night through the summer to provide a visible presence on the street.

From his walks through the neighborhood at night, Officer Evans noted that he has seen many people staring at their cell phones, which places them at risk. Would-be thieves see such staring and the use of white ear buds as cues that people are not paying attention to their surroundings. Jill confirmed that based on her review of police reports, cell phones are often involved in robberies.

Also in response to concerns about neighborhood safety, there are now four regular Citizens on Patrol (COP) walks each week, per the schedule below. The walkers welcome new members anytime, so please consider joining one. Good conversation provided.

  • Monday, 7 am: meet at the northern fountain on Park Avenue
  • Monday, 8 pm: meet in front of Memorial Episcopal Church
  • Wednesday, 7 am: meet at the northern fountain on Park Avenue
  • Thursday, 8:30 pm: meet in front of 1329 Bolton Street.

911 Calls

Scott Brillman, the Acting Director of 911 and Emergency Communications, addressed the group on 911 operations. Since Baltimore uses the same technology as other areas of Maryland, this information offers everyone good guidance.

In Baltimore, there are about 4,000 calls per day, with about 90% of these coming from cell phones. Many calls focus on crime, but there are all kinds of other calls as well as. For instance, if someone is having heart attack or stroke, operators are equipped to provide information to help save lives.

When calling 911, operators first confirm the location address, which is asked twice to double-check, so be patient and respond twice. Calls are normally answered in 3-6 seconds, but sometimes there’s a recording when more calls come in than the operators available, such as when there’s a major accident on the highway.

If you get the recording, please stay on the phone, because if you hang up and call back, you go to the end of the queue.

For city service issues and other non-emergencies, use 311, available from 6 am to 10 pm. However, if you are reporting a suspicious person or situation, use 911. Callers can remain anonymous and ask the operator to delete their identifying info.

Blue PlaqueBlue Plaque Committee

Volunteers are needed for Neal Friedlander’s committee tasked with selecting worthy neighborhood homes to receive a new wave of Blue Plaques. The committee’s selections will then be vetted by University of Baltimore history professor Betsy Nix.

Blue Plaques celebrate and honor past residents who made important contributions to human welfare, history, or cultural and intellectual life. The person honored must be deceased or at least 100 years old. If interested, contact Neal at  nfriedla@gbmc.org.

New Board Member

Katrina Smith had to resign from the Board. The nominating committee unanimously nominated Ashley Day of the 200 block of Lanvale, who was unanimously approved by the Board.

Boltonstock 2016 a Big Success

Boltonstock 1Success is built piece by piece: a gorgeous summer evening, great music, tasty treats from grill meisters, bakers and brewers, plus a big happy crowd of neighbors. It turns out, this was the perfect formula to make Boltonstock 2016 a huge success.

The evidence is in the many smiles in the slideshow below (photos by Kellie Welborn, Kendra Parlock and José Hernandez). Boltonstock’s organizer Chas Phillips estimated that 325-340 people attended.

According to MRIA Treasurer Barry Blumberg, income from the festival totaled $2,765, which left just under $600 after expenses were covered. In contrast, 2015’s festival did not quite break even. MRIA’s Executive Committee has earmarked this overage to start a “Boltonstock Reserve Fund”, to cover losses should the event ever need to be cancelled due to bad weather.

Chas said, “It was the community’s support that made Boltonstock a success.” He continued, “We’re fortunate to have so many people willing to come together to build community while we enjoy an evening at the park. I’m optimistic about 21217 not because it’s perfect, but because we have so many resources to tackle the problems that we do have. Boltonstock is just one small indicator of that.”

Many people deserve credit and thanks for making the event happen, including:

  • All of the performers: DJ’s Vok2, Caleb Stine & the Brakemen, and the OrchKids;
  • Chris Whisted and the Brewer’s Art for donating beverages;
  • Mary Consugar and the team of volunteers who masterminded the food and beverages;
  • the Social Action Task Force (SATF) for organizing, coordinating, and volunteering at the event;
  • Jess Wyatt and Aften Blackwell for their hard work in inviting and organizing the many community-based organizations who are doing such good work in our neighborhood;
  • Monty Howard for helping with design and printing;
  • Midtown Community Benefits District for providing security;
  • the local financial sponsors, Steve Howard, Michael Booth, Kristine Smets, Michael Marcus, and Peter Van Buren;
  • and most of all, the whole of 21217 for coming out to celebrate our neighborhood, connect with one another, and work toward making this place an even better place to live.

In preparation for Boltonstock, the SATF reached out to about 20 organizations that serve residents in the 21217 area code, inviting them to participate in the event. They were offered a free table at which to showcase their organization’s work and inform residents on how they can support their efforts with time or resources. The organizations that attended were:

“We had a ton of fun at the festival. The youth earned approx $100 from sales of their products (t-shirts and bags), making it one of our best events ever,” noted Kim Loper, Artist-in-Residence at Jubilee Arts.

She went on, “This money goes into a pot that we use to pay their work stipends, so it was a huge contribution to getting them paid. It was also great for them to network with people in the Bolton Hill area. We are so appreciative for the opportunity and hope we can participate again in the future!”

In addition to the community tables, Thread student Tavian Coleman supported Chas Phillips as emcee earlier in the evening. Thread provides under-performing high school students confronting significant barriers outside of the classroom with a family of committed volunteers and increased access to community resources. Learn more and get involved at thread.org.

For more information on organizations that support the 21217, check out the SATF’s ever growing Community Asset List, listed under the “MRIA” menu tab at the top of the Bolton Hill Bulletin Website.

Organizers are already planning to make Boltonstock 2017 better still!

Crab Feast Needs Volunteers

Crabfeast 6MRIA hosts an annual Crab Feast to show our appreciation, to the people who serve our neighborhood, including Baltimore Police and Fire personnel, MICA Security, and Midtown staff. Honorees and neighbors meet for a good time of eating and camaraderie.

The fun happens this year on Tuesday, August 30, from 5–7:30 pm at the Bolton Swim & Tennis Club. Please see the calendar event here for more details.

With the date fast approaching, MRIA needs volunteers to assist with the event. It won’t take much time, and your commitment can be flexible. The shifts available include:

  • 4:00–5:00 pm:  4–5 people to arrive early, help set up tables, and mark crabs for buyers
  • 5:00–7:30 pm:  3–4 people to assist during the feast (monitor the beverage station, serve crabs, monitor dessert/side dish tables, help guests as needed)
  • 4:30–7:30 pm:  3–4 people to grill (hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers) during the feast
  • 7:30–8:00 pm:  5–7 people to assist with cleanup

If you are able to help, please call Jill Kingery at 443- 621-4300 or e-mail at jillkingery@gmail.com. To whet your appetite, we’ve included some images from last year’s feast below.