Councilmember Brent Bolin on building around Mount Rainier, MD's transit history

Rhode Island Avenue, Mount Rainier, MD

Brent Bolin, Councilmember for the City of Mount Rainier, MD is building on the City’s transportation assets to create a walkable and sustainable community. “There are different eras of transportation history present in Mount Rainier. The City was incorporated as a streetcar town that borders the District of Columbia, and now we have high levels of bus service that have taken the place of the streetcars. We are trying to build on that as a community asset,” explains Councilmember Bolin, who is a member of the the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.

Mount Rainier is a historic and diverse community of 8,500 residents with a working class history. Although the City has access to public transportation, it is struggling to fill the commercial spaces on main street. “Redevelopment of our commercial space is our biggest challenge. Rhode Island Avenue is our main street that evolved as a streetcar corridor. We have historic storefronts and infrastructure but these are an awkward fit with the automobile culture that people expect by not living in downtown DC,” says Bolin. “Finding the right mix of small businesses to service the City but also draw people from adjoining neighborhoods has been a big challenge for us. There are a lot of empty buildings on our main street.”

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Maryland local leaders gather to discuss revitalization

MML panelistsMayor Tracy Gant, Mayor David Gysberts, Commissioner Susan Burdette and Council President Jake Day discuss their strategies for revitalization during a reception at the Maryland Municipal League Summer Convention.

Over 45 Maryland local leaders, including members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, gathered on Sunday, June 8 to share their revitalization successes and challenges during a reception at the Maryland Municipal League Summer Convention in Ocean City, MD. Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland cosponsored the event.

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Vice Mayor Gant: Environmental initiatives making Edmonston, MD more attractive

Edmonston Green Street

Tracy Gant, Vice Mayor for the Edmonston, MD, is using environmental initiatives to make her community stand out. “We are using green technology to attract residents to Edmonston, and also to let people know about Edmonston,” says Vice Mayor Gant, who is the Vice Chair for the Advisory Board of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.

The Town of Edmonston, an historically working class town of 1,400 residents, sits on a branch of the Anacostia River in Prince George’s County, just two and a half miles from Washington, DC. “Edmonston is a great little town. We are a beautifully diverse community that can meet any need. The city is a just a couple of minutes away, but come within Edmonston and it is like you are walking into beautiful countryside,” says the Vice Mayor.

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Mayor Gee Williams on why Berlin, MD is the coolest small town in America

berlin-mdDowntown Berlin, MD is a National Register Historic District. Photo courtesy of Berlin Main Street.

In February, Berlin, MD (population 4,500) won the title of “Coolest Small Town in America” from Budget Travel. Mayor Gee Williams sees smart growth as part of why Berlin won the honor.

“We are proud of our 19th century charm, but we are a 21st century community,” explains Mayor Williams, a member of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. Berlin’s historic downtown is a National Register Historic District, boasting 47 structures on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Mayor David Gysberts brings a hardworking attitude to revitalizing downtown Hagerstown, MD

Downtown Hagerstown, MD. Photo by Mr. T in DC via Flickr.Downtown Hagerstown, MD. Photo by Mr. T in DC via Flickr.

David Gysberts, Mayor of Hagerstown, MD, and an Advisory Board member of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is looking to revitalize downtown Hagerstown while preserving its historic character.

“Hagerstown used to be a huge manufacturing town. You name it, we made it,” says Mayor Gysberts. “We still have that hardworking attitude coming from our history of being the home of entrepreneurs and industry.” Mayor Gysberts brings that attitude to Hagerstown’s revitalization efforts, working to reduce commercial and residential vacancies and promote homeownership in the city center.

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Local Leaders Council members in Maryland meet to learn and share ideas for building community support

Maryland local leaders gather for a "Communicating Smart Growth" workshop on February 6, 2014.Local Leaders Council members in Maryland gather for a workshop on February 6, 2014.

Maryland county and city officials and staff met on February 6, 2014 for a half-day workshop designed for members of the Local Leaders Council and co-sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland.

The workshop provided participants with the opportunity to share and learn from each other’s experiences building community support for smart growth initiatives. Participants discussed the values that resonate in their communities, from economic prosperity and fiscal responsibility to environmental stewardship and quality of life.

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Jake Day on partnerships and community support in Salisbury, MD

salisbury-mdPlaza in Downtown Salisbury, MD. Photo by Ed LeCompte via Flickr.

As the “Hub of Delmarva,” Salisbury, MD is the largest city on the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia peninsula. With a population just over 30,000, Salisbury serves as the commercial, transportation, media and employment hub of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

Jake Day, City Council President since April 2013 and Advisory Board member for the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is looking to reverse decades of disinvestment in Salisbury’s core.

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Councilmember Chris Trumbauer on balancing growth and the environment in Annapolis, MD

Annapolis, MD waterfront.
Annapolis, MD’s waterfront. Photo by JP via Flickr.

Anne Arundel County, MD is a county of 540,000 residents situated between Washington, DC and the Chesapeake Bay. Chris Trumbauer, County Councilmember for Anne Arundel County and Chair of the Advisory Board for the new Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to accommodate new development in Anne Arundel County while protecting the natural beauty and resources of the Chesapeake Bay region.

“The Annapolis area has a unique sense of place,” Trumbauer explains. “It has 300 years of history, a connection to the Chesapeake Bay and is Maryland’s capital city. Anne Arundel County has 500 miles of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay, and while there is a lot of development pressure there is also a lot of affinity for environmental issues. It is a vibrant community and I would like to keep it that way.”

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