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Neighborhoodsby Mark Reutter2:07 pmMar 14, 20180

Pugh’s billion-dollar neighborhood fund off to a modest start

The mayor says she wants to rebuild neighborhoods and create green amenities. What’s missing is something else colored green.

Above: Remnants of the 1900 block of Kennedy Avenue in the East Baltimore Midway community. (Mark Reutter)

In her State of the City address on Monday, Mayor Catherine Pugh called for the establishment of a $1 billion investment fund to tear down and rehabilitate neighborhoods “that have endured neglect and under-investment for decades.”

Today, the Board of Estimates approved a reallocation of funds that would provide 0.2% of the mayor’s fundraising goal.

The board agreed to reallocate $2 million of unspent funds approved in prior capital budgets to a new fund that would be used to support neighborhood building and market support.

Most of the $2 million comes from previous failed efforts at infrastructure building.

The funds include cash tucked away in more than a dozen dormant accounts ranging from $939.61 to $500,000.

Most of the money comes from previous failed efforts at infrastructure building, such as the $500,000 allocated for the CSX intermodal terminal in Morrell Park that fell through in 2014 when the state withdrew $30 million in subsidies.

Also discovered by sleuths in the Finance Department: unspent reserves for acquisition costs related to the cancelled Red Line, matching grants for urban agriculture projects and $70,000 never disbursed for open green space.

In her speech, Pugh called on the business community to help her raise the billion dollars over the next five years. Other than describing neighborhood revitalization as a top priority, she did not give details about the fund or its objectives.

Last October, the mayor called on the business community to help her end homelessness, an effort she said would cost $350 million.

And just this afternoon, Pugh formally launched the “green network vision,” which her office describes as “a bold citywide plan to connect Baltimore’s parks, green spaces and trails to new green amenities in communities burdened by vacant lots and blight.”

On the heels of the neighborhood rebuilding plan comes the mayor’s “green network vision.”

The mayor said she wants to carve out thousands of acres of new parks and walking paths in areas with the highest concentrations of abandoned properties.

The press announcement gives no hint of the price tag of this endeavor.

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