April 6 Meeting Notes

Date: Monday, April 6, 7pm
Location: 1401 Hollins
Board Present: Bif, Khandra, Kathy, Catherine, Homer, Chris, Brenden, Sabriyah, Dagmar

  • Local Business of the Month: Dream Catcher Cafe at the Urban Business Center, 1200 West Baltimore Street, is open Mon-Fri 10am-2pm for $7.95 lunch. Featuring a different menu every day. They also have a Junior Chefs program and are exploring how to expand.
  • Micha Dannenberg requested $200-300 donation for his Tattered Hats crafting activity at SoWeBo Festival, May 24, from 12 to 4. Motion to make a donation. Seconded. 24 aye, 0 nay, 0 abstain.
  • Jacqueline Murray lead discussion on street trash & possible ways to improve it.
    • Several ideas were brought up, including regular neighborhood cleanups; publicize when trash/recycling pickup days are; reach out to businesses who flyer houses; hire residents to manage trash using grant money; code enforcement;
    • Other notable discussion: an alley sweeper came through once some time ago, but hasn’t regularly swept. Street sweeping in general isn’t always effective. Trash pickup is often “staged” (someone comes early to pile trash and reduce number of stops), which leads to wind-blown street trash and isn’t allowed. Dumpsters are sometimes brought to the neighborhood for community trash days but are often filled by non-residents.
    • Motion to form a committee lead by Jacqueline to organize efforts. Seconded. 23 aye, 1 nay, 0 abstain. Interested parties can contact Jacqueline: j.a.murray7@gmail.com
    • Andrea Leahy discussed existing Streetscapes Committee, past issues with trash cleanup efforts, and possible collaboration.
  • John Pitas, Baltimore Mosquito Project, presented recent results on the mosquito study and upcoming projects:
    • In the past, about 1 in 3 yards had mosquito larvae, mostly present in trash. Last year that increased to 2 in 3 yards.
    • The research also depends on citizen science efforts. In addition to the Photovoice project (now in progress), residents are invited to collect data, and are compensated $100 at the end of the season in return for full data. Interested parties can contact John Pitas at jpitas1@umbc.edu.
    • The best tip to control mosquitoes is to dump out standing water and not let it collect.
  • Officer Milburn is available for residents to contact about crime or other issues. He can be contacted at david.milburn@baltimorepolice.org or 410-854-5169.
  • Bif updated on upcoming Lots of Arts / City Uprising projects:
    • The Carey/Pratt butterfly mural is slated for touchup work donated by Dan Van Allen and a rain garden designed by UMD students. Bon Secours and DPR also plan to donate materials.
    • Union Square and Mt. Clare have partnered with UMBC’s Chris Swann and City Uprising to beautify & maintain a lot filled with native plants.
    • City Uprising (a project by Gallery Church) is also looking for other projects. Anyone with ideas can contact Josh Smith at info@cityuprising.com.
  • Brenden announced the first Corks & Conversations event to be held Friday, April 17 at 1708 Hollins. The speaker will be Liz Gomez, Director of Programs & Operations at Baltimore Corps, and resident of Union Square. RSVP by email to brenden.jackson76@gmail.com
  • Andrea spoke about Bloom Your Block. The kickoff/picnic will be April 25 and will include pots, bulbs, plants, seeds, and other giveaways. Judging will be on June 27. Volunteers are needed every year. For more information, contact Windy or Andrea at and.cu@hotmail.com
  • Maintenance of the street corner plant pots and the urns in the square was also discussed
  • Sabriyah announced the Saturday, June 13 community day geared towards youth, involving an early-morning cleanup followed by a big cookout, healthy cooking demos, sports clinics, and a step show by local college students.
  • Dagmar updated on film nights, to be held every three weekends, May-September. Fridays will have a “date night” movie, Saturdays will have a children’s movie, and Sundays will have a documentary by Megaphone Project (social/civil issues in Baltimore). Films will be screened at the greened lot on Carey Street, which is set up for screenings.
  • Khandra updated on Southwest Partnership’s activities. The board has been elected (she is now Vice President). The hiring of an Executive Director is still in process. The Partnership will be forming a bylaws committee, and residents are invited to submit written suggestions for new bylaws to unionsquareassociation@gmail.com for consideration.
  • HigherSchool Instructional Services gave a presentation to introduce themselves and their proposal to convert Steuart Hill Academic Academy to a charter school. PowerPoint presentation attached. Highlights from question-and-answer period:
    • Resident children will have the first chance to fill seats
    • HigherSchool will return in a few months with a more concrete proposal and request for support from the neighborhood
    • Subject focus will be on STEM with additional emphasis on the arts
    • They have not yet officially made a proposal to the school
  • Kathy and Homer presented the new website at http://www.unionsquareassociation.org/
  • Bif touched on a petition circulating regarding an Olympic-sized pool in Carroll Park.
  • New business: Concern that the acronym “USA” for Union Square Association may be confusing was discussed, and other possible acronyms were brainstormed.

The next neighborhood association meeting will be Monday, May 4, 7pm, at 1401 Hollins.