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Hampden's DIY Crosswalks

After months of crosswalks not being repainted on West 36th Street, Will Bauer took matters into his own hands.

Will Bauer, who calls himself Lou Catelli, stood at the corner of Elm Avenue and West 36th Street late Wednesday morning showing off his handiwork from the night before.

At the intersection were three freshly spray painted crosswalks and stop lines at the intersection Bauer painted himself. After Hampden residents and businesses grew tired of asking the city to repaint the street following repaving, Bauer decided to take matters into his own hands.

At about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, armed with some Sambuca, a striper and four cans of white spray paint bought from a local hardware store, Bauer went to work making the intersection safer.

“It’s for the children,” Bauer said, only partially joking.

Bauer described the intersection as "dangerous." Since the city has made it a four way stop, some drivers still don’t realize they have to halt and just cruise through. A few minutes before, while standing at the intersection, a young woman in a black car drove through without even hitting her brakes. 

Bauer views his actions with a kind libertarian philosophy. He said Hampden has a diverse group of residents with a lot of talents that can be pulled together to help address the neighborhood's problems, even if it means forgoing the traditional methods of going through city government.

“The more [the neighborhood] can take care of itself the more Baltimore City will leave us alone,” Bauer said.

Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore City Department of Transportation, said the city agency took a dim view of the DIY street improvement.

"This is not something we're very happy about," Barnes said.

She said residents are not permitted to do work on city streets because of liability concerns. She said the department would have to investigate whether or not it would or could take civil or criminal action against those who participated in the painting.

She said that the crosswalks are scheduled to be painted along with other lines along West 36th Street on Feb. 6, weather permitting. 

Catelli said that police stopped by three separate times during the painting because of calls about "malicious property destruction." Each time he said the officers laughed and just told him to finish the project.

Benn Ray, president of the Hampden Village Merchants Association, said the Baltimore City Department of Transportation’s lack of response to merchants and residents pleading for the crosswalks and yellow striped centerlines have forced actions such as Bauer's.

“Since the city is letting us take the DIY (do it yourself) approach I think the next stop is to let the city let us start doing our own property (tax) assessments and issuing our own liquor and entertainment licenses,” Ray said. “But if the city would like to help we still have three more intersections, a bike lane and a yellow center line (to be painted). So there’s still opportunity to get involved.”

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who represents most of the area, said the crosswalks, centerlines and bike lanes on West 36th Street haven't been repainted because the contractor who repaved the street this summer has been unable to complete the job.

She said getting crosswalks repainted should be a top priority because there are so many schools in the area. But she said she has been told by Director Kahlil Zaied the repainting couldn't be done in cold weather. Clarke also said she sent an email warning Zaied that residents have been threatening they would take action if the city didn't act soon.

As for any repercussions for Bauer and his co-conspirators, Clarke said that was highly unlikely.

"I can't imagine such a thing. We should be thanking them and apologizing for our contractors," Clarke said.

Nick Mosby, who also represents parts of Hampden, said he's working with the department to get the street painting situation resolved. Mosby said the actions show the residents care about their community.

"It's unfortunate. I know it's very frustrating for them," Mosby said. 

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Lou Catelli February 02, 2012 at 06:25 PM
the HVMA was never asked to endorse Project Hot Paint !
Lou Catelli February 02, 2012 at 06:26 PM
thanks for the kind words, but im really not much of a hipster! i prefer tight OP shorts to tight jeans
Lou Catelli February 02, 2012 at 06:28 PM
we are coming your way soon. and honestly, the intersection was safer as a two way stop then as a four way stop without crosswalk/stop bars on the street. at least you knew that the traffic on 36th wasnt stopping
Lou Catelli February 02, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Ha! A true hipster would never dare wear OPs
Lou Catelli February 02, 2012 at 06:29 PM
she and Councilman Nick Mosby are awesome!
Lou Catelli February 02, 2012 at 06:30 PM
and Kang and Kodos !!!
Amy Sens February 02, 2012 at 08:14 PM
“But if the city would like to help we still have three more intersections, a bike lane and a yellow center line (to be painted). So there’s still opportunity to get involved.” Nice!
david February 02, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Lou, I apologize for the inappropriate label. I will refer to you by your preferred nomenclature, which, I'll just assume is your Lou. In the meantime, please enjoy this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-RtayJQubY I know it's hard to defend against the claim that a hipster will deny their hipster-ness (hipness?), and I certainly do not mean to offend you. I just thought it was pretty funny that I saw it right after I read your response to my comments. Anyways, What/when is your next project? ~D
Eric Dymond February 02, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Lane striping isn't usually paint these days, it's heat applied plastic. So if the temperature is below a certain point, it doesn't adhere. The fact that there's a few warm days in January doesn't mean that a contractor is going to purchase materials and mobilize for a job that may be ruined if the weather changes. Similarly, there's not a lot of paving that happens in the winter because cold weather and snow can ruin a paving job. It's also expensive because most of the asphalt plants are shut down.
Lou Catelli February 02, 2012 at 09:56 PM
the city has promised to start painting Feb 6th, weather permitting. i gave them written notice that if they dont start by Feb 13th (again weather permitting) i will start on Roland & 36th, followed by Hickory & 36th. and trust me, there is nothing hip about me!
Lou Catelli February 02, 2012 at 09:57 PM
so good breakfast first, good weather second, and safety third?
Joan Dolina February 02, 2012 at 10:33 PM
I think we should start a Super Pac and back Lou as our candidate for President of Hampden!!
JA February 02, 2012 at 10:47 PM
@Lou Thank you for the crosswalks. Are you going to finish the job and paint across Elm? Also are you going to charge folks a nickle to use them? It would only be fair.
Eric Dymond February 02, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Something like that. But more that there's no point in doing it if there's a good chance it'll get ruined and you'll have to do it over (without being paid, of course). Either way though, no reason they couldn't have put down some temporary paint.
AlleyEnforcer February 03, 2012 at 05:56 AM
Well done.
Lou Catelli February 03, 2012 at 06:45 AM
excellent, i need a lush fund!
Lou Catelli February 03, 2012 at 06:46 AM
i promise that before you wake up on Monday, all elm & 36th will be done
Lou Catelli February 03, 2012 at 06:47 AM
thanks and great name
Lou Catelli February 03, 2012 at 06:49 AM
'Never let the perfect get in the way of the good." - Abraham Lincoln
Lou Catelli February 03, 2012 at 06:51 AM
here is my contact info for any other requests: Lou Catelli loucatelli@gmail.com www.facebook.com/loucatelli 410.849.9456
Sara Hollands February 04, 2012 at 04:28 AM
I must point out that despite the weather and the contractor being, "...unable to complete the job...", they did manage to get the revenue generating parking spaces painted immediately. $AFETY FIR$T??
Joe Stewart February 04, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Being somewhat of an Anglophile, I like to call these "zebra stripes" and want to say BRAVO to the citizens for stepping up to the plate. My only suggestion for the future is to consider painting them a bright neon color so they stand out more. Thanks for standing up for pedestrian safety!
ARTblocks February 05, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Yes, I DO remember that! Let's do it!
ARTblocks February 05, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Hampden teamwork at its finest: Lou is addressing the crosswalks, and ARTblocks is working on getting a painted mural at the center of all SIX intersections on 36th Street.
Patrick Roanhouse February 05, 2012 at 07:57 PM
i think its time then that they sue the bloody contractor for breach of contract and not doing their bloody job.
Cat Walker February 06, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Brilliant work, Lou! Here's hoping we can share a Bucca soon!
Lou Catelli February 06, 2012 at 06:48 PM
count me in!
Lou Catelli February 06, 2012 at 06:49 PM
i would love to hear their 'explanation'
Justin case December 28, 2012 at 01:54 AM
It takes 1 wrong/misplaced line & its goodbye Lou when someone gets killed. Negligent homicide or involuntary manslaughter is a hefty prison sentence. Good gesture but bad judgment
Lou Catelli December 28, 2012 at 01:59 AM
it's been nearly one year, and the death count is still hovering right around zero... and thanks for the concern

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