Residents call for fair play as renovation plan proceeds

Neighbors voice concerns about loss of homes

August 20, 2002|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

Therle Greene's home is a lonely rowhouse, surrounded by vacant, dusty lots near Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Yesterday, about 25 neighbors rallied in front of the home in the 1900 block of E. Madison St., calling for fair treatment as they are uprooted for a proposed biotech park.

Residents and representatives of the community group Save Middle East Action Committee (SMEAC) said that demolition in the neighborhood is being done without proper notification and cleanup.

They also reiterated concerns about compensation for residents if the City Council approves legislation for the city to acquire up to 3,300 properties in the area for the sweeping revitalization plan.

The plan would include a biotech park and hundreds of units of new and rehabilitated housing.

"We are fighting for our community to be made whole," said Shrene Burnett, SMEAC's secretary, and rallying "against the unsafe and unhealthy demolition that is going on all around us."

Residents complained about dust, construction and demolition that they say continue through the night and a lack of notification to residents when adjacent homes are about to be leveled.

Patricia Tracey, SMEAC's president, said Hopkins and the neighboring Kennedy Krieger Institute are doing most of the demolition.

Terry A. Todesco, a Hopkins spokeswoman, could not verify last night whether Hopkins was doing demolition there, but said, "We make every effort to let the community know what we are doing."

SMEAC leaders say that residents are anxious about their future. Rally participants chanted, "A house for a house," in voicing demands for adequate compensation as they lose their homes to the project.

Plans call for displaced homeowners who choose to remain in East Baltimore to receive up to $70,000 plus the value of their home toward a replacement.

Greene, 77, who has lived in his home nearly 70 years, said, "All I want is a decent house."

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