Practical, lasting redevelopment solutions for unused public spaces are made possible through persistence and partnership.
When it comes to using old spaces to solve new problems, this panel of experts has been there, done that. In this session, Empowering Communities: Breathing New Life Into Old Spaces, participants learned from an esteemed group of presenters about effective ways to rethink community revitalization projects.
“Setting the stage for revitalization efforts depends on the building blocks in place,” says Kevin Baynes, Director of State Revitalization Programs for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Those building blocks include focusing on specific targeted areas, strong local leadership and partners, and a multi-year investment strategy.
Baynes covered a broad range of resources available to local governments, community development organizations and non-profits to help bring those visions to life. Grants, loans, tax credits and technical assistance programs are just a few of the partnership opportunities. Baynes’s presentation featured 13 different projects across the state of Maryland that involved a partnership with the State Revitalization Program.
The list of successful projects only grew from there. Jake Day, the Mayor of Salisbury, shared examples of how he has made revitalization of public spaces a staple of his administration. He went on to note how important these tangible changes are for the community. “Working on these spaces builds trust with your citizens,” he said. “Keep chipping away at the small changes every chance you get.”
Yolanda Jiggetts of Park Heights Renaissance in Baltimore City, doubled down on the idea. Transforming the space shows tangible changes that build a stronger sense of community but transformation alone is not enough. “You must program the space. Plan ways to get people out there to use the space,” and ultimately show them a vision of what is possible.
In Charles County, Kelly Robertson-Slage, the Director of Economic Development, reiterated the necessity of the strong partnership model, noting that one particular project relied on local, state and federal elected officials in procuring the funding they need to get the job done.
- Kelly Robertson-Slagle, Director of Economic Development for Charles County
- The Honorable Jake Day, Mayor, Salisbury and President, Maryland Municipal League
- Yolanda Jiggetts, Executive Director, Park Heights Renaissance
- Kevin Baynes, Director, State Revitalization Programs, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
- The Honorable Delegate Sharon Green Middleton, Baltimore City Council, Vice President & District 6 Councilwoman
The session was held on August 19, 2022, at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD.
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