Lake Montebello path access to be limited for three years

$20 million dredging effort will lead to partial closing

March 31, 2004|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Lake Montebello in Northeast Baltimore is due to be dredged -- a $20 million project that will significantly limit public access to the popular recreational path around the lake for up to three years, city officials said yesterday.

The project, which will involve closing the northern half of the scenic path that circles the lake, is in the design phase and could start late this year, said Robert H. Murrow, a Department of Public Works spokesman.

The site of a 1915 city filtration facility that supplies drinking water to Baltimore city and county households, the path is a daily destination for scores of joggers, bikers and walkers, often accompanied by dogs and children.

The dredging project for Lake Montebello, which is between Harford and Hillen roads and draws water pumped from Loch Raven Reservoir, will empty the lake of residual sludge and "washwater" that has been building up for decades, Murrow said.

Once the project begins, Whitman Drive on the north side of the lake will be closed, cutting the circular path in half. During the project, two lanes of Curran Drive -- those closest to the lake -- will also be closed, officials said.

"We have to take the used material, white sediment, out of the lake and clean it," Murrow said. "We tried to compromise with the community. We don't want to entirely shut off the [lake] path."

The residual matter had built up over time as a byproduct of chemically treating the water, Murrow said.

Murrow said the city's water supply would not be affected by the project because little water was being drawn from the lake.

Murrow said shoreline and storm drainage work, new fencing, and landscaping would also be done to upgrade the recreational space.

Although city officials have attended two recent meetings with community organizations to explain the project, Israel C. Patoka, head of the mayor's office of neighborhoods, said the subject is likely to come up at an open forum with Mayor Martin O'Malley at Glenmount Elementary School at 7 o'clock tonight.

Patoka said once the project is finished, the paths around the lake will be resurfaced for community use.

"Measures are being taken to keep it [the lake path] as accessible as possible within safety limits," Patoka said.

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