A 16-acre Baltimore County park is gearing up for environmental improvements with the support of a $500,000 Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) grant awarded to the County’s Turner Station community that will help restore public recreation areas, add walking trails and a boardwalk, and strengthen 2,600 feet of shoreline. Fleming Park, located close to the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore, will be restored using sediment dredged from channels leading to the Port.
“We are happy to be working so closely with the residents of Turner Station to restore this important part of their community,” said Kristen Fidler, director of harbor development for the MDOT MPA. “The MDOT MPA is a national leader in using dredged sediment from shipping channels in ways that benefit the environment. We look forward to transforming this park into something that can be thoroughly enjoyed by local residents and others for years to come.”
The proposed improvements include public recreation areas with open fields, walking trails that will allow visitors to observe birds and other wildlife, and a boardwalk that will provide access to the Patapsco River. The shoreline will be reinforced and strengthened to accommodate rising water levels due to climate change. The project will be developed in four phases. The MDOT MPA grant will help Turner Station undertake the first phase, which includes community outreach and education, pre-design, design and engineering, and permitting.
National Public Radio recently documented Fleming Park’s challenge with sea rise and how it is using virtual reality to communicate the park’s challenges.
“Thanks to the grant we can now begin implementation of the Phase 1 Environmental Assessment for this project,” said Gloria Nelson, president of the Turner Station Conservation Team. “The beneficial reuse of dredged material from the Baltimore Harbor will be an invaluable resource supporting Turner Station’s public health, habitat restoration, coastal resiliency and environmental justice issues. This inventive community project will create a dynamic playscape for our children as well as a special park which will enhance the social, economic and environmental quality of life for the residents of Turner Station.”
The MDOT MPA is the largest creator of wetlands in Maryland due to its award-winning dredged material management program which rebuilds islands and landside acreage in Maryland using channel sediment. Poplar Island in Talbot County and Hart-Miller Island near Baltimore have both been rebuilt to their original footprints using channel sediment after decades of erosion whittled both to less than ten percent of their original size. They are both now home to hundreds of various species of wildlife and waterfowl. The south cell of Hart-Miller is also a public park, popular with boaters, birders, and campers, operated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Maryland State Park Service.
Another project, Masonville Cove in Baltimore City, was the former home of Kurt Iron and Metal and the Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. A massive environmental restoration effort, part of the construction of the Masonville Dredged Material Containment Facility, was completed in 2008. More than 61,000 tons of trash and debris dating back to the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 were cleared from the site. Today, the nationally-recognized refuge includes walking trails, a fishing pier and an environmental education center. More than 2,000
students annually visit Masonville for hands-on environmental lessons.
The MDOT MPA’s dredging program is needed to keep shipping channels safe and deep enough to accommodate the massive cargo ships that travel to the Port of Baltimore. The Port has experienced record cargo numbers and is now handling larger ships than ever.
Among the nation’s ports,the Port of Baltimore ranks first for autos and light trucks, roll on/roll off heavy farm and construction machinery, imported sugar and imported gypsum. It ranks 11th among major U.S. ports for cargo handled and ninth nationally for total cargo value.
In 2018, a record 43 million tons of international cargo was handled by the combined state-owned and privately-owned marine terminals at The Port. The value of that cargo was also a benchmark: $59.7 billion. Last year the state-owned public terminals handled a record 10.9 million tons of general cargo and more than a million TEU containers. The Port also handled a record 850,147 cars and light trucks in 2018, the most in the U.S. for the eighth consecutive year.
The Port of Baltimore generates about 15,330 direct jobs, with more than 139,180 jobs overall linked to Port activities. The average salary for people with direct jobs at the Port is 9.5 percent higher than the average annual wage in Maryland. The Port is responsible for nearly $3.3 billion in personal wages and salaries, $2.6 billion in business revenues and $395 million in state and local