Renewal effort gets $2 million

March 20, 2007|By John Fritze | John Fritze,Sun reporter

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon distributed $2 million to community organizations in Park Heights yesterday - part of a $300 million redevelopment effort that officials hope will turn around the sprawling and often troubled neighborhood.

Most of the initiatives Dixon announced were started under Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration, which completed a Park Heights land-use plan in early 2006 and set aside $22 million - including money from the budget surplus - to start the effort. Yesterday's $2 million distribution was among the first of the funds to be disbursed.

The Park Heights master plan, which sets goals for how individual properties in the Northwest neighborhood should be developed, calls for the city to acquire hundreds of vacant buildings, expand neighborhood parks and redevelop store fronts along major streets. Dixon said the city has asked for a $2 million increase in state funding for the plan this year.

"We've learned from many mistakes we've made over the years about what is needed in this community," Dixon said at the Park Heights Community Health Alliance. "There are many people who have stood fast ... who struggle daily to know that this community could be thriving."

Six groups received funding yesterday, including the Workforce Center at Sojourner-Douglass College, which got $650,000 to recruit, train and find employment for an estimated 100 residents. KIPP Ujima Village Academy, a charter school that posted the state's highest math scores in seventh and eighth grades, received $500,000.

"This is just the beginning. There's a lot of work to be done," said Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, a Baltimore Democrat and former city councilwoman.

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