Call To Action: Restore Riverside Park’s Brick Entrance

Update Tues 11/14:

After a meeting with the Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation (DOT) on the traffic calming project, we are happy to report that the brick entrance to Riverside Park will be restored! Thank you all for your advocacy!

The entrance had an issue of non-compliant slope and color contrast on the ramp. This situation was never properly relayed between DOT and the community. To make the entrance ADA compliant, there will be a yellow textured ramp within the brickwork. There is no timeline for restoration, but DOT is finally aware of the community’s preference for brick and will restore it.

 


The Baltimore City Department of Transportation made an error by removing the beautiful brick entrance to Riverside Park at the corner of Randall St and Johnson St. While the RNA Board has been working closely with Councilman Costello since October 27 to remedy the situation, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Recreation and Parks have not been responsive to our requests to restore the brick entrance that welcomed residents and visitors to our historic park.

The Department of Transportation stalled the current traffic calming project for nearly five years and then upon execution and without notice, replaced brickwork that posed no problem and was not a part of disclosed plans, and then cited false reasoning for their actions. We take great pride in our historic park, and spend nearly all of the money we raise and countless volunteer hours to maintain and beautify our neighborhood gem. We hope that you will take a few moments of your time to help us hold the Department of Transportation accountable for this error and prevent them from continuing these actions on our other brick entrances. *Detailed information is presented below the contacts to provide you with more background.

Please email and/or call each of the following parties at your earliest convenience using the suggested text or that of your own to demand that our park entrance be restored to the beautiful brick that was recently installed in 2012 as a way to further beautify our park and celebrate its place in history.

Subject Line: Restore Riverside Park

1. Michelle Pourciau, Director of Transportation
Michelle.Pourciau@baltimorecity.gov
410-396-6802

Ms. Pourciau,

Riverside Park is the cornerstone of our community. This historic park is where we gather for concerts, sports, summer play, and winter sledding. It is where we exercise and take leisurely strolls with our dogs, family, and friends. We demand that you work to quickly restore the beautiful brick entrance at Randall St and Johnson St so that we can continue to fully enjoy and take pride in our neighborhood park.

Sincerely,

———

2. Eric Costello, Councilman of District 11
Eric.Costello@baltimorecity.gov
410-396-4816

Mr. Costello,

Riverside Park is the cornerstone of our community. This historic park is where we gather for concerts, sports, summer play, and winter sledding. It is where we exercise and take leisurely strolls with our dogs, family, and friends. We demand that you advocate for our community to the fullest extent to ensure that the Department of Transportation quickly restores the beautiful brick entrance at Randall St and Johnson St so that we can continue to fully enjoy and take pride in our neighborhood park.

Sincerely,

———

3. Jack Young, Baltimore City Council President
CouncilPresident@baltimorecity.gov
410-396-4804

Mr. Young,

Riverside Park is the cornerstone of our community. This historic park is where we gather for concerts, sports, summer play, and winter sledding. It is where we exercise and take leisurely strolls with our dogs, family, and friends. We demand that you advocate for our community to the fullest extent to ensure that the Department of Transportation quickly restores the beautiful brick entrance at Randall St and Johnson St so that we can continue to fully enjoy and take pride in our neighborhood park.

Sincerely,

———

4. Reginald Moore, Director of Recreation and Parks
Reginald.moore@baltimorecity.gov
410-396-7900

Mr. Moore,

Riverside Park is the cornerstone of our community. This historic park is where we gather for concerts, sports, summer play, and winter sledding. It is where we exercise and take leisurely strolls with our dogs, family, and friends. We demand that you work with the Department of Transportation to quickly restore the beautiful brick entrance at Randall St and Johnson St so that we can continue to fully enjoy and take pride in our neighborhood park.

Sincerely,

———

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Prior to 2012, Riverside Park’s corner entryways were concrete ramps, and the gazebo entrance was a hatched concrete design. The brick entrances the community has known since then came about after the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Riverside Neighborhood Association (RNA) met to discuss park improvements funded by the City’s capital budget. In order to make the entrances less road-like and more pedestrian friendly, they decided on an aesthetically pleasing brick design that would bring historic character to the park in preparation for the 2014 Bicentennial celebration. The park corners would become pedestrian-friendly, ADA-compliant bump-outs that would deter unnecessary vehicular traffic, yet still withstand the weight of large vehicles such as the trash trucks that enter the park almost daily. The gazebo area would also be redesigned with bricks to match the three Randall Street entrances. The Riverside Neighborhood Association and park patrons were very pleased with the renovations, and several neighborhood volunteers continued to spend their time improving entryway gardens and working on other beautification projects within the park.

In 2012, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Riverside Neighborhood Association began discussions on the topics of traffic calming and pedestrian safety along Randall and Johnson Streets. Funding was not secured until 2014 at which time RNA was presented with a draft set of project plans. RNA Board members, including a traffic engineer, spent countless hours fine-tuning DOT’s plans and making recommendations in the best interest of the community. Several emails with suggestions and requests for updates were sent to DOT by RNA throughout 2015, and after seven months of zero replies, Councilman Costello was finally able to elicit a response. Two months later, we were informed that the money for this project was spent elsewhere and that we’d have to wait until Spring 2016. In 2016, it was deemed best to wait until after BGE’s Operation Pipeline work was completed along Johnson and Randall Streets to begin work on the traffic calming project. At this time, the final plans for this project included bumpouts at the following intersections:
Johnson/Barney
Johnson/Heath
Randall/Riverside
Randall/Jackson
Randall/Webster
It also included the re-striping of crosswalks at the above locations, and at the following intersections/park corners to align with the existing pedestrian ramps/curb cuts:
Johnson/Randall
Randall/Covington

In late summer 2017, the traffic calming project finally began. RNA requested updated plans but was provided with none. Work appeared to be following the plans RNA had previously seen until October 27, when RNA noticed that the bricks had been removed from the park’s corner entrance at Johnson and Randall Streets, an intersection that was only to have crosswalks re-striped. RNA reached out to Councilman Costello for reassurance that the bricks would be replaced but received no answer. On November 2, RNA noticed that concrete had been poured in place of the bricks and heard several resident complaints. Upon reaching out to Councilman Costello again, he took this discussion to the Department of Transportation and the Department of Recreation and Parks. The Department of Transportation, who is ultimately responsible for this unsightly change, has no plans to remedy the situation and instead has cited the following ADA guideline as the reason for the change:

“Advisory R302.7.1 Vertical Alignment. Pedestrian access route surfaces must be generally planar and smooth. Surfaces should be chosen for easy rollability. Surfaces that are heavily textured, rough, or chamfered and paving systems consisting of individual units that cannot be laid in plane will greatly increase rolling resistance and subject pedestrians who use wheelchairs, scooters, and rolling walkers to the stressful and often painful effects of vibration. Such materials should be reserved for borders and decorative accents located outside of or only occasionally crossing the pedestrian access route. Surfaces should be designed, constructed, and maintained according to appropriate industry standards, specifications, and recommendations for best practice. The standards limit changes in level and openings in floor and ground surfaces, but they do not further address overall surface smoothness. Rough surfaces composed of cobblestones, Belgian blocks, and similar materials can be difficult and sometimes painful to negotiate with wheeled mobility aids due to the vibrations they cause.”

The Riverside Neighborhood Association believes the Department of Transportation made an error that they fail to recognize as such, and are instead issuing false statements to justify their actions. RNA believes that the brickwork previously in place was laid in plane, and therefore would not produce rolling resistance or subject pedestrians on wheels to the stressful or painful effects of vibration. The brickwork did not have the same effects as cobblestones or Belgian blocks mentioned in this guideline, and the use of brickwork around the park was reserved for decorative accents that occasionally cross the pedestrian access route. Riverside Park corners were in total compliance with the cited guidelines, and therefore we strongly urge you to reach out to those mentioned in our call to action to correct this mistake.

Community Yard Sale – April 29, 2017

 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Riverside Park
**Rain date is Saturday May 6, 2017

Sell: Online registration is now closed. There may be tables available the day of for $15, but this is not guaranteed. You are welcome to bring your own table and pay $15 for the space as well. Please email rnabaltimore@gmail.com for more details.

Buy: Swing by the park and score some new-to-you goods while enjoying Riverside Park.

Donate: Want to get rid of things without the hassle of selling? Drop them off to the RNA table by 9:30 a.m. on April 29. Proceeds from your donations will benefit RNA.

For more information or to volunteer, send an email to RNABaltimore@gmail.com.

Operation Pipeline Phase II – Update 3.1

Note: There may be several updates this month and in the months that follow. We will begin to reference the phase in the title of each post (since we will be involved in multiple phases quite soon), and the update number will signify the month of work (3), followed by how many updates have been released each month (1 so far).
Update as of 8/14/17: Check Facebook for the latest updates.
—–
BGE is ramping up to complete all service work on this Phase II (green shaded streets) project by the end of April.  Final paving restoration will start in April and likely go through about July.  The existing cast iron gas main will be abandoned in place in two (2) separate abandonments.  The first abandonment is tentatively scheduled for end of March, the second for end of April.  It’s important for residents within the first abandonment area (green shaded area east of Riverside Ave) to be transferred over to the new gas main by end of March or risk getting their gas service cut off.  The same goes for residents in the second abandonment area by the end of April (green shaded are west side of Riverside Ave).
The following is important information:
  • Some residents have been told that they have until the end of April to schedule work. This is incorrect information and BGE is correcting this with Willbros.
  • You must respond to the hangtag and/or phone calls from Willbros/BGE as soon as possible. Residents risk service cut-off if they refuse entry to replace gas line. As of 2/21/2017 there were 270 residences still in need of replacement. Once they start the new gas pressure, it absolutely cannot run through an old line, which is why BGE will need to cut off your service if the transfer does not happen in time.
  • If you schedule an appointment and workers do not show up, please report details to BGE (operationpipeline@bge.com) and to RNA (rnabaltimore@gmail.com).
  • The Gas Service Tariff and part of the service agreement you have with BGE state that the meter and gas line within your home up to the meter are the property of BGE and they must have unobstructed access to them. This means…
    • There should be 3 feet of space in front of the meter
    • The line must be accessible at its entry point, even if that is 3 or 4 feet from the meter.
    • Residents are responsible for cost of drywall repairs if drywall has to be removed for replacement work.
    • The workers may come into your home a few days prior to look at space and determine with you if any part of wall needs removal.
    • They do not tend to bring floor/furniture/wall covering in, so we suggest putting down tarp or sheets on the floor if you have a finished basement.
  • Willbros has increased to 5 crews in the neighborhood working daily. This means that from 2/21 until the work is completed, blocks will be closed and sometimes both one way streets may be closed at same time. (ex. both Belt and Webster could be closed on the same day) It was once told to us that this would not continue to happen, but in order to finish Phase II on time, this will unfortunately be necessary from time to time.
    • Residents may need to use alleys to get to desired location. Alleys seem narrow but if trash trucks fit, cars and trucks will fit.
    • NEVER drive the wrong way down a one way street. At worst, residents may need to park and walk a block and come back for the car later.
  • Soon after an entire block of service installation is complete, sidewalk replacement will begin.

Operation Pipeline Update – February 2017

Phase 2 (green) is nearing completion. Residents have been connected to the new gas main or will be in the near future. Once all homes are connected, plans will be made to repair disrupted sidewalk squares and repave streets.

Phase 3 (blue) residents may have received a letter in the mail or a door hanger to alert you of what is to come. If you attended our last meeting, you were able to hear BGE’s plan and ask questions. If you missed out, the video below also provides a good visual for what you can expect, and you can find FAQs here. If you still have questions, please email operationpipeline@bge.com or call 410-470-7700 and referece the South Baltimore Phase 3 Project.

Operation Pipeline Update – Jan 2017

Screenshot 2016-05-12 at 8.56.09 PM
If you’re new to the neighborhood or haven’t been able to stay up to speed on all the work going on in our neighborhood, read on! At an RNA neighborhood meeting last year, BGE reviewed the steps required to complete the Operation Pipeline Phase II project (green shaded area) so that we would have a better understanding of the process and know what to expect. The steps are as follows:
1.) Call For Miss Utility Markings
2.) Perform Test Holes to Validate Markings
3.) Perform Saw Cutting Operations
4.) Perform Open Trench Operations for Main Pipeline Installation
5.) Introduce Natural Gas to New Main Piping
6.) Install New Service Pipelines, Plumbing and Tie-In to New Main
7.) Abandon Existing Main Pipeline
8.) Perform Final Paving Restoration (coordination with DOT – 6 Traffic
Calming Projects)

At this time (Jan 12, 2017), steps 1 – 5 are complete. If BGE has not yet contacted you (or your neighbor with whom you share a pipeline), they will within the next few weeks or months. You will likely find a door hanger on your door or in your mailbox, to which you should promptly respond. You will be asked to schedule a day for BGE/Willbros contractors to come into your home and perform necessary work in your basement. You should plan to be home for the entire day. After all homes within the Phase II boundaries are complete, sidewalks and streets will be restored. This work is expected to wrap up in the spring. All resident questions can be directed to Jimmy McCune at 443-463-0630.

*Reminder*
Customers are required to provide BGE with unobstructed access to its equipment. This includes all piping up to and including the gas meter inside your home.