Mondawmin on the map

Self-examination: Coordinating council takes stock of northwest areas that have problems, promise.

March 10, 2001

MONDAWMIN is five Metro stops away from downtown, six stops from Owings Mills. Within a one-mile radius of the shopping mall, it's possible to attend school from kindergarten to college.

So why are the Mondawmin-area neighborhoods, despite their solid housing stock and leafy gardens, experiencing some of the same uncertainties and blight that are afflicting so many other city areas?

A recently released 64-page survey suggests some of the reasons: an aging population; the lack of new investment; apathy.

The Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council is trying to reverses those trends.

It is talking to the Mass Transit Administration about getting a shuttle to link the Mondawmin transit hub with the area's schools and institutions, including the zoo in Druid Hill Park.

It is also talking to a Lutheran social service agency, which is exploring a residential program for grandparent-headed families. In Boston, a two-year experiment in such "kinship care" has shown much promise.

Also in the planning stages is a campaign to bring new homeowners to the area, which has some 11,000 residents.

"We have an image problem," says long-time resident Pearl Moulton, who is involved in efforts to upgrade the area and bring new builders there. She thinks that if Mondawmin gets its act together, it could compete with more distant residential areas. "Everybody who lives in the suburbs is not happy," she says. "With the right kind of housing we could attract a whole lot of them."

"If people are coming back to Baltimore, this is an area they could look at," says another activist, Earl Arnett, referring to such amenities as Baltimore City Community College, Coppin State College, Douglass High School and a number of high-powered churches.

A humorous depiction of the area's attractions will soon be put up at the Mondawmin Metro station. It will symbolize the community's efforts to place itself on the map.

Too many city neighborhoods are still demoralized by their seemingly overwhelming problems. That's why Mondawmin's activism is encouraging.

Baltimore's future depends on the optimism of the residents of such neighborhoods.

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