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Friends of Gwynns falls leakin park

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2020 Sewershed Improvements 

FOGFLP has learned of two sewer construction projects (SC291 and 977) that are starting in the Gwynns Falls river bank and flood plain.  As advocates for the park, we understand the necessity of these projects but our goal is to limit the damage.  FOGLFP was not included in the planning of these projects.  We have since had discussions with Baltimore City's Department of Public Works (DPW) and Recreation and Parks for coordination and participation in the future.  We are asking to be included in the planning so as to ensure there are reasonable safeguards to protect the park when it comes to things like setting the limits of disturbance (LOD), tree removal, erosion control, and reforestation.  

  • 1 Nov 2020 10:08 AM | Anonymous

    [4th in a series on this DPW project]

    The monthly Progress Meetings for the DPW Project SC977 are being attended by Chris Wharton (FOGFLP Board) and Dave Hollander (Windsor Hill Conservation Trail). They have not reported any issues of concern arising at the meetings.

    Since the last update of June 9, 2 site tours involving FOGFLP have taken place. On August 26 Jack Lattimore toured the site alone. 2 issues were noted:

    First, an open, ground level sewer vault was seen at the north end of the temporary access road.

    The second issue was rutting along the temporary access road. 

    Both issues were reported to James Hurley, the Project Manager.

    The site appeared to be in good order. The rutting that was reported from the August tour has been repaired by the installation of timber matting along the wettest area of the temporary access road. The open sewer vault still has not been addressed and Mr. Hurley said he would see to it. There are a number of manholes that have not been repaired. These manholes may be listed on another concurrent project (SC955) that has work in the same area. Mr Hurley said he would check it out but assured us that all the manholes in this section of the sewershed would be repaired and have leak-proof and locking lids installed before the projects are closed out. We were pleased to find out that DPW was able to create a new terminus for the temporary access road which means that at least 3 large, mature trees were saved.

    We were surprised to realize that the permanent access road for project SC955 is to be built less than a 100’ from the temporary access road that was cut for this project, SC977. Over 80 mature trees were removed to create the temporary access road. Yet another access road will require removal of many more mature trees. Apparently the EPA consent decree that is behind the sewer upgrades requires a permanent road for future inspections. We could not understand, however, why yet another road is needed. Why not just harden the temporary road already built?

    In addition, an abandoned section of the old Gwynns Falls Parkway that appears to be in stable condition is only yards away from the planned permanent road. Why not use that section of abandoned roadway? It seems like a waste and yet another assault on Baltimore City’s premier forest by the Department of Public Works. Mature urban trees are not commodities to be cut down to make 2x4’s, only to be replaced with saplings that will take decades to provide the same ecological services. These assaults on our park and forest must stop!

    Mr. Hurley described the inspection of a large concrete sewer vault in the middle of the stream just south of Windsor Mill Road, known as the “battleship.” Workers had to first wade through the stream to reach the vault. When the lid was removed it became clear that stream water was infiltrating into the sewer line inside the vault. This is one of the big problems of the old sewer system, built between 1910 and 1930. When large amounts of water rush into the sewer lines during storm events it causes the lines to overflow out of the manholes onto the surrounding area - a pollution event and definite health hazard.

    Sewer lines in the sewershed are being inspected using video technology. In late November or December, after most of the feeder lines and manholes have been repaired the “main event” of this project will take place. The 30” sewer line actually in the steam will be repaired. Much of the pipe will be re-lined. However, badly damaged pipe within the stream will need to be replaced, which requires a combination of diverting the stream and pumping the sewage through temporary pipes. Stay tuned!

    Submitted by Jack Lattimore, October 24, 2020

  • 9 Jun 2020 8:59 AM | Anonymous

    (3rd in a series of updates on this DPW project)

    There have been no Progress Meetings since Tuesday, May 19. Chris Wharton and Dave Hollander of the Task Force attended for FOGFLP. No issues of concern were reported at the meeting.

    Since the last update of May 10, there have been two issues regarding access roads were reported to James Hurley, the Project Manager.

    1) Sunday, May 17 tour including Forestry and FOGFLP

    Moderate compaction noted and reported. Project Manager said Inspector would take note and require additional safeguards if compaction becomes worse.

    2) Friday, May 29 – Called in during walk of Bridget McCusker & Jack Lattimore

    Access road compaction reported. Project Manager said that any similarly compacted soil would be replaced with inspected (“weed free”) topsoil.

    The Task Force received complaints about the use of white limestone as stone fill on the worksite and along stream banks. Those were passed to the Project Manager by Jack Lattimore. Concern was that the stone was unsightly and obviously not native. The predominant stone in the park is known as Gabbro so that was the stone recommended. It is unknown if Gabbro is available in the trade for fill work. The Project Manager was going to discuss the issue with the Contractor. The Task Force has not received a response on this issue.

    The Project Manager contacted Jack Lattimore regarding removal of the old chlorine tank just north of Windsor Mill Rd directly adjacent to the Conservation Trail. Dave Hollander reported that the tank has no sentimental value and everyone would be happy to see it gone. Project Manager will let the Contractor know.

    As part of reviewing construction plans it was discovered that a section of the VOLPE property adjacent to Dickeyville on the north side of the Gwynns Falls has been marked out for the temporary access road. Mr. Bloomberg, one of the owners was, contacted by Jack Lattimore via email and telephone message alerting him to this and suggesting that he should contact the Senior Project Manager at DPW Headquarters. The contact information was given to Mr. Bloomberg. Lattimore also volunteered to assist Mr. Bloomberg to post signs on the property requesting that he be contacted before any cutting take place. No response has been received from Mr. Bloomberg.

    On the FOGFLP website under the “NEWS” dropdown menu you will find a new section, “Sewershed.” This section includes all Task Force Updates. If you have a comment that you think the Friends’ Sewer Construction Task Force can help with, please leave a comment or concern at this mailbox. We will respond as soon as we can.

  • 13 May 2020 10:00 PM | Anonymous

    DPW project SC977 (Gwynns Falls Sewershed Improvements – Area C) officially began on Monday, April 27. You may have heard trees being felled in the forest.

    Within weeks of finding out about the project the Friends sent a letter to Directors Matthew Garbark (DPW) and Reginald Moore (Rec & Parks) asking for more information on the project and also expressing our concerns about what little we did know. Those concerns were:

    • Would there be new, permanent roads created in Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park?
    • Would the temporary access roads be constructed in ways that would prevent destruction of fragile forest soils?
    • Would outdated tree surveys taken years ago be updated to insure newly mature trees would be counted if they were removed and would they be replaced following construction?
    • Could we have access to the plans?
    • Could we meet with DPW and contractor personnel during the construction phase to inspect the site and at periodic progress meetings?
    • Could we be assured that any trails damaged by the construction be repaired?
    • Could we be assured that trees removed as a result of construction be replaced within the park?
    • How long would the project take?

    The Friends created a Task Force composed of local stakeholders. Members include David Hollander, former President of the Friends and currently Chair of the Windsor Hills Conservation Trail; Jack Lattimore, Friends Board Member and Chair of the Task Force; Matt Rescott, member of the Baltimore Forestry Board; and Chris Wharton, former President of the Dickeyville Community Association and newly elected Friends Board Member. Matt Rescott and Chris Wharton are environmental restoration professionals and have extensive field experience in similar projects.

    The Task Force has had 2 telephone conferences with DPW and Rec & Parks personnel. Councilman Kristerfer Burnett arranged the 2nd phone meeting and attended it. We had an opportunity to express our concerns on each call. We were grateful that both DPW and Rec & Parks personnel on the calls took our concerns seriously, answered them as best they could over the phone, and promised to get back to us to provide more details on the project and insure that we were aware of what was going on.

    On Friday, May 1, Task Force members Jack Lattimore and Chris Wharton met with DPW Project Manager James Hurley and 2 DPW Inspectors at DPW’s Field Office in Dickeyville. We had a candid and productive meeting. We were given copies of the plans. The Task Force was invited to attend field inspections and also progress meetings. The Task Force made clear that we wanted strict adherence to the plans and that all work would stay within the Limits of Disturbance noted on the plans and that any “field decisions” would be cleared with Rec & Parks beforehand. We found out that there would be no permanent access roads as part of this project and temporary access roads would be constructed using the highest type of protection necessary to protect forest soils.

    We have also learned a lot about construction “mitigation,” repair work to the stream, floodplain, forest, and trails following construction but before the project is officially declared completed.

    There is no doubt that this project will cause stress to the forest of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park. Approximately 85 mature trees have been identified for removal. That number could climb as new surveys are taken. However, the goals are necessary: less sewer overflows into the streams in the park leading to improved public and environmental health. With citizen oversight and adequate mitigation following construction the Friends are confident that forest stresses will be as limited as possible and that the streams and forest of the park will recover over time.

    Advanced warnings of projects impacting the park are necessary. The Friends and other stakeholders deserve the opportunity for community input. Finding out about this project late in the game caused frayed nerves in our community that necessitated quick and decisive action.

    After some difficult weeks of discovering what was going on and demanding answers, the Friends believe that we are creating a new model for projects that impact the park. We have built new relationships with DPW and Rec & Parks and we have unprecedented access to what is going on. This has the potential to build trust among all parties and that portends a better outcome for all.

    That is not to say that this project will be pretty or that we may be shocked about what is happening in the short term. However, with your continued support the Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park is working to ensure that the damage is limited.  The project should take 6-8 months.

    If you have a comment that you think the Friends’ Sewer Rehabilitation Task Force can help with, please leave a comment or concern in our mailbox. We will respond as soon as we can. 

    Thank you for your continued support!

  • 17 Apr 2020 9:52 PM | Anonymous

    FOGFLP has learned of two sewer construction projects (SC291 and 977) that are starting in the Gwynns Falls river bank and flood plain. As advocates for the park, we understand the necessity of these projects but our goal is to limit the damage.

    Contractors, unless directed otherwise, will take the fastest and cheapest route towards completing their project and we have learned these projects will require both temporary and permanent access roads (for long-term maintenance).

    With the aim of mitigating damage and shining light on the City's planning process, FOGFLP has put together a Task Force that includes members of the Windsor Hills Conservation Trail, Baltimore City Forestry Board, Dickeyville Community Association, and FOGLFP. Three of task force members have significant field construction experience.

    Baltimore City's Department of Public Works (DPW) in response to Task Force inquiries, has agreed to allow Task Force periodic inspections. FOGFLP has also requested that a Task Force member be allowed to participate in the periodic construction project meetings.

    The FOGFLP Task Force is working closely with Rec & Parks and Councilman Kristerfer Burnett. A meeting is planned for the week of 4/20 to bring all parties together to try to get answers to the questions the community has and to insure safeguards to the park.

    We hope to have positive news to report about these necessary projects and that City agencies can be counted on to ensure they are completed in an environmentally responsible manner and further that the park's treasured forest is repaired and even improved as a result of them.

Where is the park? 

On the western edge of Baltimore, right where Interstate 70 terminates.

39° 18′ 23″ N, 76° 41′ 27″ W
39.306389, -76.690833

Mailing Address:

Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park
1920 Eagle Drive
Baltimore, Md. 21207

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