Frequently Asked Questions
This project is being led by the City of Baltimore and the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP), working in collaboration with the Parks & People Foundation, SB7, State agencies, and others. In addition, roughly 150 local residents and technical experts are serving on advisory committees that will help guide the project.
The Middle Branch of the Patapsco River is located to the south and west of the Inner Harbor, from “Ridgely’s Cove” near Horseshoe Casino and M&T Bank Stadium at its northern end, joining the mouth of the Gwynns Falls and meeting the outlet of the main branch of the Patapsco between Cherry Hill and Brooklyn. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, which connects South Hanover Street between Cherry Hill and Port Covington/South Baltimore, is one of the Middle Branch’s defining manmade features — as is the tangle of elevated roadways where I-95 and I-395 meet overhead. Middle Branch Park, Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center, Swan Park and Ferry Bar Park all front on the Middle Branch. Once fully built out, the network of new waterfront parks and trails will extend from Locust Point through Port Covington and the Spring Garden Industrial Area to the Casino Entertainment District and the neighborhoods of Westport, Cherry Hill and Brooklyn.
The Middle Branch Waterfront stretches for more than 11 miles, including a number of neighborhoods and a variety of land uses. The project will be complex and multi-faceted, requiring diverse expertise in many disciplines of design and planning led by a landscape architecture firm with a demonstrated track record of success working at this scale and with local talent.
Parks & People Foundation (Parks & People) managed the community engagement and design team selection process under a contract with the City of Baltimore and South Baltimore Gateway Partnership. This resulted in an invited design competition to identify the best talent nationally who could lead the planning of this exciting initiative. The project is supported by a dedicated working group of government and community partners, with input from a variety of advisory and stakeholder committees comprised of property owners, neighborhood residents, government leaders, elected officials and technical experts.
The Master Plan is moving forward. The City and SBGP are assembling a team to complete the first essential element of the Master Plan: the Project Brief. The Project Brief will be the guiding document that shapes the Master Plan — the road map that spells out our objectives and establishes shared definitions of success. West 8, the firm originally leading the Master Plan’s design team, was selected after an extensive public process but recently withdrew from the project. Other firms previously working under West 8 are continuing to complete their research and analysis for the Project Brief.
Yes. Several major projects are moving forward in coordination with the Master Plan as a whole. Baltimore City’s Department of Recreation and Parks broke ground in September on the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center, a $23 million regional recreation complex in Cherry Hill’s Reedbird Park. The complex includes a multi-purpose field to be built by the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, which will provide a safe, clean space for team sports, including baseball, soccer, lacrosse, football, and flag football. (SBGP and others are contributing funds to these projects.) In addition, the Gwynns Falls Trash Wheel is currently under construction and is expected to be in operation by the end of 2020. And we are pursuing funds for shoreline projects that foster resiliency to climate change and improve the ecology of the area.
Racial equity and social and environmental justice are key drivers for this project. We are reaching out to local and national experts in Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) to help enshrine these topics in the Project Brief, which will inform our understanding of what skills and tasks we need in creating the final design. JEDI principles will not just be theoretical language tacked onto the Master Plan, but will be enshrined in tangible goals, clear definitions of success, and measurable outcomes. This is our commitment, and we want to get it right.
A detailed communications and community engagement strategy is being developed as part of the Project Brief. This will include a range of COVID-safe approaches, like one-on-one phone interviews and a virtual Open House on social media. An experienced, local minority-owned firm is taking the lead on this aspect of the project.