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

Edmonston Green Street
Decatur Street in Edmonston, MD was the first “Green Street” in Maryland. Photo by the Town of Edmonston.

Tracy Farrish Gant, Vice Mayor for 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, MD, a 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.

Vice Mayor Tracy Gant
Edmonston Vice Mayor Tracy Gant

Located in a low-lying area along a river and surrounded by impervious surfaces, Edmonston has been prone to flooding for decades. In one instance in 2006, heavy rains flooded more than 50 homes. Although a massive pumping station alleviated much of the flooding, the Town’s leadership realized that a more holistic approach could prevent such problems from occurring in the future.

The result was Edmonston’s Green Street, an environmentally sensitive Complete Street that was the first step towards making Edmonston a more attractive, walkable, and environmentally conscious community. The first street of its kind in the region, the three-quarters-of-a-mile-long street is designed to naturally filter 90 percent of the rain that falls on the street. Designed using Complete Streets principles, the Green Street features widened sidewalks, pedestrian scale streetlamps with LED bulbs, bike lanes, and a connection to an existing hiking/bike trail.

The project jumpstarted an environmental movement in Edmonston. “The Green Street was so positive. Once word got out and the residents understood what was being done, they were on board,” explains Vice Mayor Gant. “Now, they remember the Green Street and want more. That’s why we have the burden of continuing. We need to go further.”

Today, Edmonston is branding itself as a green community to create a more livable place for its residents, as well as to attract new residents. “Edmonston has so much potential to grow. The Green Street attracted a lot of people to Edmonston, but we are going further with solar paneling, community gardening, and we even have an active farm.”

In addition to the Green Street, Edmonston is working on a variety of initiatives including expanding pedestrian and bicyclist facilities, planting more street trees, and educating residents on greening their homes. Vice Mayor Gant explains of one of her recent successes: “We recently held a successful Food Day at ECO City Farms, which is within the Town of Edmonston. The Food Day is a fun filled learning opportunity for all ages, and included outreach to the local community on healthy eating and active living information.”

Local Leaders Council