Category: Your Tax Dollars At Work

City-Owned Historic Blight: 1326 Druid Hill Avenue

Property Address: 1326 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner: Mayor and City Council, 417 E Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

City Council District and Contact: District 11, Eric T. Costello

State Senator: Shirley Nathan-Pulliam

State Delegate:  Keith Haynes

Yet another Upton home going to waste, this time at the hands of the City. In this home lived the first African-American member of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Finishers’ Association, Local 155. Mr. David Leigh was granted membership in 1940, after trying for several years. An article about his acceptance into the union was published in The Afro-American.

The home is available through Vacants to Value, however — the home immediately next to it is not, and it’s in even worse shape. Hard to imagine anyone buying it and doing any sort of quality work on the home when it’s in danger of whatever happens to the property next door.

1326 Druid Hill Avenue

1326 Druid Hill Avenue

City-Owned Blight: 1615 W Baltimore Street

This property was on the Board of Estimates agenda (link opens a PDF), to be sold in 2013 to a developer. There is nothing available to suggest that sale took place.

Property Address: 1615 W Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21223

Property Owner: Mayor and City Council, 417 E Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

City Council District and Contact:  District 9, “Pistol” Pete Welch

State Senator (District 40): Catherine E. Pugh

State Delegates (District 40): Frank M. Conaway, Antonio L. Hayes. Barbara A. Robinson

1615 W Baltimore Street

1615 W Baltimore Street

 

Let’s Talk About Trash

…because as Baltimore residents, that’s what we do. I’ve never discussed garbage more than after I moved to Baltimore in 2000. It’s a constant struggle and source of frustration — if you belong to your neighborhood’s Nextdoor, you probably see the same complaints over and over again, as I do. One of my neighbors constantly described the goings-ons by one family he dubbed “The Trash Heaps” — lest you think he was simply being unkind, let me assure you, he was being dead-on descriptive. That house was a nightmare and a constant source of emails in my inbox. They no longer live on my neighbor’s street, and God bless whoever gets them as neighbors…I hope you really like the sight and smell of a lot of garbage.

Trash in Pigtown, West Ostend Street, June 22, 2015

Trash in Pigtown, West Ostend Street, June 22, 2015

Now, according to the Baltimore Brew, the City wants to implement a pay-as-you-go scheme for trash collection. You may think this is a great idea. You may wonder what took them so long. You may be so thrilled you’re beside yourself, reveling in the glee that comes with city-provided trash cans and a pay-as-you-go trash pickup scheme. Or, like me, you could shake your head and wonder why on earth our City government doesn’t stop to think that perhaps asking people to pay as they go…for anything city-service related…is a bad idea. Hint:  They probably won’t pay.

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re a pretty decent sort. You pay your taxes, put out your trash in a bin with a lid, and don’t make a general nuisance of yourself to your neighbors, regardless of the kind of neighborhood you live in, or your income level. You’re just the kind of person my dad referred to as “good people”. Yay you!  And you’re thinking “This is a great idea. Now our trash collection will be more streamlined. More efficient. Less trash in the streets.”  My dear reader…”streamlined” and “efficient” + Baltimore City government…do you see where I’m going with this?

O, Irony!

BELIEVE can outside a vacant.

Lest you think I’m in the business of slamming the good folks at DPW, think again. I’ve lived in the same neighborhood for 15 years, and I couldn’t ask for better trash collectors. They actually are efficient. And nice. My trash can is always placed back onto my patio after they haul the contents away, and I’ve never lost a lid yet. The only time I lost a trash can in those 15 years was shortly after Martin O’Malley came up with his limp “BELIEVE” campaign and we were all given a trash can with that word emblazoned on the side. Oh I believed, alrighty. And my trash can was promptly stolen the day after it arrived, never to be seen again. I believed, (for a hot minute) and then I had to haul myself to the Home Depot to buy another darn can. It should have been a sign, I tell you.

The simple fact of the matter, however, is that many people –regardless of race, gender, socio-economic blah blah blah — just people from all walks of life, believe me, do not know how to properly dispose of their trash. Or they’re too lazy and/or cheap to do so. I used to watch one of my neighbors (a lawyer, mind you, with a slightly low-rent TV law firm) throw his household trash next to the corner trash can (and not even on trash collection day!), on the ground, and la-di-dah his way to work. For months, years, this went on, until he and his wife moved away.  Meanwhile, the Section 8 folks down the street faithfully put out their cans (with lids!) every Tuesday night and didn’t make a mess (I still think half the block blamed them and not Mister Lazy Lawyer.)  They still live in the neighborhood, thankfully.

Trash dumped on West Ostend Street in Pigtown, June 22, 2015

Trash dumped on West Ostend Street in Pigtown, June 22, 2015

The point of this post is to illustrate that my neighborhood, like so many across the city, have long become dumping grounds. And not just by rogue contractors, waste haulers, and homeowners who are doing a rehab and don’t want to pay the dump fees. We’ve long been a dumping ground by the very residents who might live next door. Across the street, and we’re tired of it. Implementing a pay-as-you-go trash collection scheme might work in some neighborhoods that don’t already have a trash problem. And that’s great. But for those of us who do — it’s going to result in more illegal dumping, more trash, more rats, and might just be the incentive for many of us who have stuck it out, to leave.

It’s a bad plan, and will end up being punitive towards those residents who do follow the law and dispose of their trash properly. As with most things in Baltimore, it boils down to a lack of enforcement and punishment that actually acts as a deterrent. I would urge everyone to contact their City Council representative and ask him or her to squash this bad plan, which only amounts to yet another tax on our city’s struggling middle class.

Update: 923-927 Washington Boulevard

These properties are scheduled to be demolished July 1, 2015. One other property on this block was demolished (a large corner building) and the parcel will be turned into a fenced parking lot for the short term. Hopefully someone will eventually purchase the lot and build something to benefit the surrounding neighborhood.

In the meantime, have a look at 923 while it’s still standing. Sadly, the condition of this property only declined since 2011 when the original information was posted.

2124 Greenmount Avenue

Property Address: 2124 Greenmount Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21218

Property Owner:  Gregory Melton and Glenford Foy, same address

City Council District and Contact:  District 12, Carl Stokes

State Senator:  Joan Carter Conway

State Delegates:  Curtis Anderson, Mary Washington, Maggie McIntosh

This home was purchased from One House At A Time, the city’s receiver for vacant properties, for $10,000 in 2008. This home is once again a vacant eyesore.

2124 Greenmount Avenue

2124 Greenmount Avenue

 

More Dumping at Carroll Park

I went for a walk through Carroll Park today, and as I usually do, I ended up walking along the rail tracks behind the mansion. It’s an interesting view of the park and the surrounding neighborhoods. You can see 611-661 S Monroe from the rail tracks, too.

Some would have you believe that nobody uses Carroll Park, and it needs “saving”. As someone who lives a block away, I can assure you — this is anything but true. Most days the park is filled with people using the ball fields, the soccer fields, and the basketball courts. The skatepark and playground are used often, too. The adjacent charter school, Southwest Baltimore Charter School, uses the playground for the kids at recess — which is a great idea. Carroll Park is also home to a large music festival in September, bringing hundreds of people to the neighborhood. My neighbors use it, too. It’s a great place to walk, and I usually see moms and seniors as I’m walking through. It’s also home to the Mt. Clare Museum — a beautiful piece of Baltimore’s history. It’s certainly not a dying park, or in need of any “saving”. It’s a treasure to my neighborhood, and is well-used by people across the city.

However — with all that said, it’s also being used by trash dumpers, and this certainly is something that needs to be addressed. The Baltimore Brew did an article and a follow-up on a recent dump site that was found closer to the golf course (yes, Pigtown has a golf course!) Today on my walk, I came across this dump site:

Construction debris left adjacent to Carroll Park

Construction debris left adjacent to Carroll Park

Of course there's a toilet. There's always a toilet.

Of course there’s a toilet. There’s always a toilet.

And even more construction debris.

And even more construction debris.

My guess this was a rehabber who didn’t want to pay to dispose of waste properly, or pay to get a Dumpster (or permit for a Dumpster. Much easier to dump it somewhere and make it someone else’s problem. Walk a few yards further, and under the Monroe Street bridge, you’ll find yet more garbage that someone foisted off on our community:

Trash under Monroe Street bridge, adjacent to Carroll Park

Trash under Monroe Street bridge, adjacent to Carroll Park

More garbage under Monroe Street bridge

More garbage under Monroe Street bridge

And even more garbage dumped under the Monroe Street bridge.

And even more garbage dumped under the Monroe Street bridge.

As you can see, this area has become a haven for illegal dumping — something I believe the City will work to correct, particularly if residents keep on top of it and make it a priority. One suggestion would be to cut off access from the side street that leads into the rail yard — possibly by a fence that has a gate just wide enough for pedestrian or bike traffic.

Cutting off access to the dump site area by cutting off this street would not prevent access to pedestrians and bike riders, if done correctly.

Cutting off access to the dump site area by cutting off this street would not prevent access to pedestrians and bike riders, if done correctly.

People who engage in illegal dumping should know that our neighborhood knows you’re doing this, and we’re staying on top of this — so think twice before dumping your garbage in Carroll Park, or any city park. If you can’t bear the cost of doing business the legal way, please take your business (and your garbage) elsewhere.

BCFD Was Here: 1523 Hazel Street

Property Address: 1523 Hazel Street, Baltimore, MD 21226

Property Owner: ETS Maryland, LLC, 3604 Eastern Avenue, #300, Baltimore, MD 21224 (charter has been forfeited, company is not in good standing)

ETS Maryland is one of the tax-sale foreclosure bidders that was controlled by former attorneys Anthony DeLaurentis, John Reiff, and John Reid before they were caught bid-rigging at municipal auctions and disbarred as a result. We’ve detailed their property purchases and noncompliance with the law several times. An order foreclosing the right of redemption on this property was issued in 2011 (Circuit Court case 24C10001905). In the four years since, nothing has been done to it, and no permits are on file. The city fire department has declared the house too unsafe for firefighters to enter, and have placed a red X placard on the front.

City Council District and Contact:  District 10, Ed Reisinger

State Senator (District 46): William C. Ferguson IV

State Delegates (District 46): Luke H. Clippinger, Peter A. Hammen, Brooke E. Lierman

1523 Hazel Street

1523 Hazel Street