Master plan forum offers 'clean slate'

September 18, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

"Hopes and dreams" were the watchwords last night as more than 300 people gathered at the first forum in Baltimore to draw a new comprehensive master plan, billed by officials as offering a "clean slate" for the city.

Charles C. Graves III, the city planning director, said the session at the Poly-Western auditorium was intended to develop a blueprint for Baltimore for the next century with resident participation.

In his welcome to participants at the opening of PlanBaltimore!, Graves said, "We're not doing this for us. We're doing this for the next generation."

Graves and David Hamme of WRT, an urban design company hired by the city as consultants, emphasized that the planning process is a venture into the unknown.

WRT worked closely with the city to draw the design for the Inner Harbor, which ended up a model for other cities, Hamme said.

Hamme said three questions would come up in workshops on topics aimed at focusing on a vision for the next two decades: "Is this what you want? Is this what you meant? Did we get it right?"

Resident participation is essential, he added.

"We can ask these questions, but only you can answer them," he said.

Six working groups were quickly formed. Members chose among the topics of housing, economic development, public facilities, transportation, the environment and urban design.

Once divided into classrooms, many who attended introduced themselves as being from the architecture or real estate fields. Others said they were community activists representing neighborhood associations. About 750 neighborhood groups were notified of the event, Graves said.

Vacant rowhouses and blight, especially in West Baltimore, were concerns voiced by the housing group.

In the transportation room, Tom McGilloway, a 35-year-old landscape architect, said a new plan was "long overdue." He added that he would like to see the city traffic system become more "bike-friendly."

Regular forums will be held, usually on the third Wednesday of each month, through 1998. The next meeting will be held Oct. 15 at Southwestern High School.

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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