Bolton Hill Notes

City council member Eric Costello presents retiring BHCA Treasurer Barry Blumberg with a city council resolution honoring his more than 20 years as treasurer.  On April 29, some three dozen neighbors surprised Blumberg at home with music, balloons and flowers to celebrate his service.

At BHCA’s annual membership meeting, several additional members of the Bolton Hill community were recognized for their notable contributions to community life over the past year.

Master Gardener Award:  Lee Tawney.  Lee has revived the greening committee by coordinating the work of park stewards, applying for grants, and reviving Congressional Medal of Honor Park.

Don’t Stop Award:  Amy Sheridan.  Amy has served has BHCA’s first-ever traffic coordinator over the past year, lending her expertise in traffic engineering to educate Bolton Hill residents about traffic calming options around the neighborhood and working with Baltimore’s Department of Transportation to implement traffic calming strategies.

No Trick All Treat Award:  Jessica Wyatt.  Jessica led the Social Action Task Force with organizing of a pandemic-friendly, wildly successful Masked Pumpkin Parade in Sumpter Park last Halloween.

Strategery Award:  Neal Friedlander.  Neal chaired the strategic planning committee over the past two years, which gathered input from the Bolton Hill community through a survey, meetings, and rounds of feedback that was all turned into BHCA’s strategic plan for the next decade.

Flexpost King Award:  Kevin Cross.  Kevin has organized the effort for years to calm speeding cars from Howard Street up John Street, resulting in flexposts installed last February and the area much safer for residents and pedestrians.

Poster Child Award:  Gary Schilling and Justin McArthur.  Gary and Justin replaced eight deteriorating kiosk boards used to tack announcements, events, and information around the neighborhood.

The Show Must Go On! Award:  Steve Howard.  Steve reinvented Festival on the Hill last fall during the pandemic so that it could continue in the form of afternoon mini concerts and virtual evening concerts.

For the Birds Award:  Ben McNutt.  Ben made the 1700 Eutaw median more bird friendly by installing a bird feeder and bird bath.

And the Nominees Are … Award:  Beth Torres.  Beth chaired the nominating committee this past year, leading the committee’s work in recruiting new BHCA board members.

Starved for live entertainment?  Mark May 23 on your calendar

The vocal duo Outcalls, known as electronic opera queens among their Baltimore fans, will do a short street concert in the 1300 block of Bolton Street on Sunday, May 23, at 2 p.m., hosted by Don Palmer.  The rules are the usual: social distancing, masks if you need them and bring your own stools and refreshments.

The event is part of the Creative Alliance’s Sidewalk Serenade series aimed at giving artists an opportunity to play before live audiences during the 15 months of the pandemic while keeping the music alive for hunkered-down audiences.  Several Bolton Hill households hosted events over the fall and winter.  You may want to host one yourself.

Boltonstock is on for June 12!  Volunteers needed.

A scaled-down version of the neighborhood’s annual Boltonstock festivsal is scheduled for June 12 with a raindate of June 26, coordinator Yulia Suslova announced.  Because of the pandemic, food service will be restricted but local talent will perform.  “It will be an opportunity for neighbors to hang out together” after the long pandemic shutdown. “We will make it as safe as possible,” she said.

Volunteers and new ideas are invited.  If interested, contact boltonstock@boltonhillmd.org.

BGE offers free energy audits (except they’re not)

BGE is once again offering free residential energy audits, a one-hour walk-through that points out things you can fix to reduce your gas, electric and water bills.  According to BGE, the representative will install energy-saving products during the visit, called a Quick Home Energy Checkup (QHEC), and also hands out free LED light bulbs. 

It’s not really free; you pay a mandatory few dollars every month under the state-mandated “Empower Maryland” program.  To schedule your “free” visit click here.

No Artscape again this year, organizers decide

The pandemic has, for the second consecutive year, led to the cancellation of Artscape.  The massive celebration of all things artistic, which usually takes place in July and sprawls from Mt. Royal Avenue east to St. Paul Street and from North Avenue south to Preston Street, will resume in 2022, according to the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.

Artscape claims to be the largest free arts festival in North America, drawing as many as 300,000 local and out-of-town visitors in past years.  It ranked 15th among the region’s largest tourist attractions in 2019, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

BOPA also cancelled the annual July 4 downtown fireworks celebration and seems likely to call off AFRAM, the African-American family celebration held in Druid Hill Park most summers.  All of these cancellations are happening notwithstanding a significant drop in COVID-19 diagnoses and an uptick in immunizations citywide.

Artscape organizers considered moving the festival to a later date in 2021 but decided the logistics would be too complicated.  “It literally takes a year or more, depending on what’s going on in the country, to mount a regular Artscape,” BOPA leader Donna Sawyer said.  “An Artscape under the constraints of a health crisis is an immeasurable lift.”

Violent crime is down but property crime is up in Bolton Hill

Property crime – a catch-all category that in police parlance includes everything from porch package piracy to arson – is up by 57 percent in Bolton Hill through April compared to the same period in 2020, according to the Baltimore Police Department’s central district report to BHCA.

Happily, there were no homicides, shootings or rapes reported in either year and only a single burglary in Bolton Hill against seven a year ago.  Only crimes reported to BPD are reflected in the totals.

Police continue to encourage reporting all suspected or observed criminal activity to the police through the 911 emergency line.  State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who has announced a range of misdemeanor laws she no longer intends to prosecute, has pledged to continue pursuing crimes in which there are victims, including thievery from cars, porches and private property.

According to BPD, citywide and in the large Central District that includes Bolton Hill, violent crime is down while property crime is up.  As the whole world knows, however, homicides and non-fatal shootings citywide continue at record levels.

BHCA processing new bylaws

A board subcommittee led by Steve Howard and John Kyle that includes outgoing BHCA president David Nyweide and incoming president Neal Friedlander has drafted a proposed set of updated bylaws for Bolton Hill Community Association, completing the transition that began in 2018 when BHCA was established to replace the long-lived Mt. Royal Improvement Association.

Created as a tax-exempt, non-profit 501c-3 organization, BHCA modeled its initial bylaws under those of MRIA, understanding that they would be updated.  In coming months, the bylaws will be submitted to the BHCA board of directors and, eventually, to its membership for approval.

BGE pipeline work should end in July

Several BGE officials attended the BHCA membership meeting May 4 to update residents on its ongoing “Operation Pipeline” gas line replacement program that has kept much of South Bolton Hill in trenches and roadblocks since mid-winter.  

They said they hoped to complete the current phase of the project before the end of July.  They sought to reassure residents that roads, sidewalks and yards disrupted by the digging and related turmoil would be fully restored.  That work runs roughly from Cathedral and Preston streets north to West Lafayette Avenue.

Zoning Board signs off on 1700 Eutaw Place renovation

The city’s Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals has approved a proposal by a group of New York investors to renovate a large and long-vacant apartment building just north of Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School as a multi-family rental building.  The developers sought parking and unit variances from the city before beginning work.

BHCA and neighboring Madison Park Improvement Association negotiated a signed agreement with the developers and work should begin in the coming months.  Construction is expected to take 12 to 24 months.

In exchange for community support to renovate the building with 24 apartments (previously there were 18) and no off-street parking options for residents, the signed agreement seeks to ensure that the owner executes the project responsibly; contributes to greening efforts on the Eutaw Place median; maintains a clean area around the building; and uses a management company responsive to any community concerns that arise.

About The Bulletin: The Bolton Hill Bulletin is published 10 times a year and distributed to dues-paying members of the Bolton Hill Community Association.  It’s also available to anyone on the BHCA website.  We welcome the submission of ideas, articles, events, photos and feedback. It is produced by Bill Hamilton, Kylie Perrotti and Marci Yankelov. Contributors this month include, among others, John Kyle, Paula Jackson, Lynne Menefee, David Nyweide and Lee Tawney.  Special thanks to BHCA Secretary Margaret DeAngelis.  Please support our sponsors.

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