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Greening, Hoop House at Hampden School Angers Neighbors

Residents say the project is a nuisance and a fire hazard at the Academy for College and Career Exploration.

A hoop house and greening project built in the rear of the Academy for College and Career Exploration's building has raised the ire of some nearby neighbors.

During a sometimes tense Hampden Community Council meeting Monday night, some residents called the hoop house and green space a mosquito breeding ground, argued that it violates fire regulations and that the school removed parking spaces and didn’t replace them.

"We have kept our agreement," said Quinhon Goodlowe, A.C.C.E.’s principal.

Staff at the school, and their partners in developing the green space, such as Blue Water Baltimore, argued they followed the city’s process attaining permits to rip up the asphalt that was behind the school and building the hoop house.

Goodlowe said that she has met with the fire department twice, and that she was told there's not a problem with fire safety at the school. One of the supporters said during the meeting, the only concern about fire is from threats residents have made to burn down the hoop house, a greenhouse with a plastic roof built over flexible piping.

Supporters also pointed out that they removed 16 parking spots on school property to build the hoop house, and made 16 other spots elsewhere on school grounds.

But those assurances were not enough for some residents.

John Hare, who lives directly across from the hoop house on Berry Street, said the asphalt in the rear of the building shouldn’t have been allowed to be ripped up because it prevents fire engines from being able to get access to the back of the building.

"So you put all these students in danger so you can have fruit trees," Hare said during the meeting.  

Lt. Derrick Ready, a fire inspector with the Baltimore Fire Department, attended the meeting and said he sent one of his fire inspectors to the school after the department-received complaints about the hoop house and access to the building.

"I asked my inspector one thing: 'Will my children be safe?' And the inspector said 'yes,'" Ready said. 

But Ready told residents he would personally inspect the school on Tuesday to make sure he is satisfied that fire trucks have access to all sides of the building if a fire breaks out.

The greening of the school began in July 2011, when Gov. Martin O’Malley and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake visited students who were beginning the greening of the school grounds as part of the YouthWorks summer job program. Later that month, volunteers from the Vans Warped Tour, Blue Water Baltimore, students and city employees dug up the asphalt and stone aggregate behind the school to build green space and an outdoor class room.

In October 2012 the mayor joined students at A.C.C.E. to plant a tree in the community garden to celebrate National Food Day, and to highlight actions taken by the city to increase resident’s access to fresh food.

Clarification: Despite statements by members made at the Hampden Community Council meeting, Baltimore Free Farm is not involved with A.C.C.E.'s greening and hoop house project.

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Tina Ford January 29, 2013 at 11:41 PM
Dear Editor Adam Bednar, The street across from the hoophouse is Berry Street,And as to the comment by Lt. Ready about "Are the children safe?"And he said "Yes",this means that the school inside is safe,However according the "Standards for Fire Department Vehicle Access"it states that the school "must have two means of fire apparatus access",And Lt. Ready then said 3 means of access are perfered and 4 would be better.With no fire Hydrants on Berry Street and no access by fire apparatus,the children are safe until a fire occurs in the rear of the school and Fire engine and Ladder Trucks can not get to the school because of a Hoophouse and soft ground,these trucks are very heavy.
Seth Wheeler January 30, 2013 at 01:42 AM
The Baltimore Free Farm is not the organization working with ACCE on this project. The name of the organization is Agritopia of Baltimore, which is run by a member of the Baltimore Free Farm, but is a separate organization.
Adam Bednar (Editor) January 30, 2013 at 02:40 AM
Seth, people who spoke in favor of the project identified themselves as members Baltimore Fee Farm and said they were working with the school.
Seth Wheeler January 30, 2013 at 03:50 AM
Adam, I live at the Baltimore Free Farm and I am a collective member. I also am the sole operator of Agritopia of Baltimore and work with ACCE on a regular basis and I was also present at the meeting. The BFF collective is not the organization that has partnered with ACCE. Please fix this error in your article.
Adam Bednar (Editor) January 30, 2013 at 03:57 AM
Seth, I don't mean to be confrontational but you posted this accusation of a factual error on this story before I could respond to your email. People at the meeting—and it was recorded—identified themselves as BFF members and supporters of this project. I certainly didn't imagine this happening. If BFF were not involved in the project why did people identify themselves as being part of BFF and partnered with the school?
Seth Wheeler January 30, 2013 at 04:31 AM
Supporting a project and being the partner are two different things. agritopia.org baltimorefreefarm.org Please review the websites and tell me which organization is the partner. And a BFF member stood up and had the last comment regarding the situation, clarifying that this is an Agritopia project, not BFF, please review what was recorded. The collective members of BFF have asked me to have this corrected. This is now the 4th time I'm respectfully asking you to correct this. 1 e-mail, then 3 comments. I still have not received an e-mail from you, so I will ask again through the comment section. I think this is a misunderstanding on your part and that's fine, just fix it.
Adam Bednar (Editor) January 30, 2013 at 05:17 AM
I've made an adjustment addressing your concerns and what was represented at the meeting.
Amy Lynn January 30, 2013 at 11:48 AM
If a "New Hampden" person wanted to bring back a dime store and Little Tavern burgers to the Avenue, the "Old Hampden" NIMBYs would protest that too. This is not about gardens and fire trucks. People have too much hate in their hearts.
debbie nickerson January 30, 2013 at 05:59 PM
What exactly do you mean by too much hate in their hearts? The residents of Berry Street especially were only trying to point out some facts and suggest alternative locations for the hoop house, but were cut off from speaking or the alternatives were shot down. I am all for green and saving the bay, etc. but we would like to see the original plan stay in effect and not have BFF or Agritopia involved which orginally they were not supposed to be. The school never involved their neighbors about this project from the very beginning and I personally had to walk over to the garden and speak to whomever was out there at the time to question things they were doing. When I did get some answers, some I liked and some I didn't. I feel that since I am mandated to pay taxes and a portion goes to the public school system I should have some input as to what they are doing and how it does effect my property. Apparently I am an "Old Hampden" NIMBY and I would not protest a Little Tavern or a dime store. That was Hampden Hon!
babo January 30, 2013 at 06:37 PM
I'm sorry but I don’t believe for a second that those local residents are actually worried about the safety of the school in the case that there is a fire. I live in that immediate area and many of the residents resent the school and the students that commute into the neighborhood to attend it. It's simply a passive aggressive attempt to throw negative attention towards ACCE.
acce January 31, 2013 at 03:40 AM
Talk about negative attention,Qinton Goodlowe didn't wait long to make false claims of destruction to the Green Project and play the race card.The real truth will be known soon,all the way to the Governor's Office.All you New Hampden Busy bodies should shut up untill you know the real facts.Unless you live on Berry Street and know all the facts,you all don't know nothing,you are justrunning your mouth
Amy Lynn January 31, 2013 at 11:34 AM
My point is that people tend to meet everything with confrontation, not friendly understanding. Just the way you described it in your own words, it sounds like you walked up to the workers and demanded answers from them, like you had already decided to hate the project instead of offer helpful advice on how to make it better for the whole neighborhood. I have met lots of people in this neighborhood that think the only option is to try to stop something new at all costs, and when they can't stop something, they add more resentment and hate to their hearts. It is a natural response. I am just trying to point out an alternative approach.

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