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Mayor Rawlings-Blake Launches Westside BioPark Public Safety Initiative

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined University of Maryland, Baltimore officials, city leadership, and community leaders at the University of Maryland BioPark for a briefing on the start of the Westside BioPark Public Safety Initiative on Aug. 19.

The Public Safety Initiative is one of a series of such events that the mayorýs office is conducting in neighborhoods throughout the city. The weeklong efforts bring together representatives of all city agencies -- including fire, police, health and parks and recreation departments -- to canvas a given neighborhood, addressing as many problems as possible and recording others for future solution. The Westside BioPark Initiative partners the city departments with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, tenants of the University of Maryland BioPark and community groups in five areas of West Baltimore - Franklin Square, Union Square, Poppleton, Hollins Market and Barre Circle.

Each day, as part of the initiative, five groups will canvas the area knocking on doors, checking to see if residents need various services including drug treatment, mental health assistance, streetlights repaired, dump sites cleaned up, broken curbs addressed, and more. Services can be provided on the spot or the problem can be slated for future correction.

At the briefing in the BioPark conference facility, Rawlings-Blake said the Public Safety Initiatives give city officials and employees a chance to speak one-on-one with residents to evaluate progress and determine where more resources are needed.

"We are here to serve you, and we want to make sure we're getting it right," Rawlings-Blake said. "The goal of the Public Safety Initiative is to see how can we work together using all of the resources we each bring to the table, and how to best use those resources to get the job done. I believe we are able to do more, and the only way we will do that is through partnership."

Each day through the remainder of the Public Safety Initiative week, different events give city residents the chance to interact with their officials and service providers. On the evening of Aug. 19, a Mayor's Youth Commission Block Party will take over the 200 block of Fremont Street. On Aug. 20 at 6 p.m., a community walk featuring the mayor and Councilman William "Pete" Welch will begin at the BioPark and end at Carter Memorial Church at 13 South Poppleton Street. The Mayor's Cabinet in the Community meeting will follow at the church from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Hollins Roundhouse will host a Back to School party from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., featuring employment services, health care providers and pro bono legal services for parents, and fun activities for children.

On Aug. 19, the first day of door-knocking, the briefing included numbers on how many residents were connected with needed services. The teams knocked on 483 doors, and 140 were opened. The fire department installed 37 smoke alarms. Substance abuse officials referred 12 people for outpatient drug treatment and three residents were referred to inpatient programs, including one who was given an intake date for the following day. Twenty potholes were reported for repair, as well as nine curb sections, and 39 curb cuts that needed to be addressed. Six houses were boarded up, and 140 street and alley cleaning referrals were made.

"What we see here is what's possible," said Rawlings-Blake. "This about making people know that whatever they're going through, they're not alone. We're here to connect them with resources."

Members of the UMB community turned out at the briefing to express their commitment to the same goals as the Public Safety Initiative taking place in the university's neighborhood.

"This place holds a special place in our hearts," said Steven A. Hanssen, senior director of development for BioPark tenant Wexford Science & Technology. "We care about the community around the BioPark. One of our goals is to make the community around the BioPark that much better."

Jane Shaab, BioPark senior vice president, told the mayor that her visit to the BioPark boosts the community outreach that UMB strives for every day. "Thank you very, very much for your attention to this neighborhood," Shaab said. "The reinforcement of having you here is just tremendous."

Posting Date: 08/19/2014
Contact Name: Karen Robinson
Contact Phone: 410-706-0023
Contact Email: karobinson@umaryland.edu