Brooklyn Park: Association, county working to clean up BP [Maryland Gazette (MD)]
(Maryland Gazette (MD) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Brooklyn Park correspondent Bob Moore is on hiatus.
Until he returns, send your news and notes to Elyzabeth Marcussen at email@example.com or call her at 410-280-5964.
From putting trash cans out too soon and then not taking them from the curb soon enough, there are some rules that county residents are expected to follow to maintain a pest-free neighborhood.
Here are links to online guides on what kind of violations county health inspectors look for when responding to a complaint:
- Household Trash: Proper Storage Between Collection Times.
- Exterior Maintenance of Single or Two Family Dwellings.
- Rodents: Eliminating Rats In Your Neighborhood.
- Property Maintenance Code.
The president of Arundel Neighborhoods Association is looking for a few good men.
With a truck.
Debbie Frank is hoping that men who are on their way to the dump can cruise through the neighborhood and pick up trash left on the side of the road or in the allies. She said if they call or email her and tell her about what they took to the dump, she will give them a "citizen's salute" in the association's newsletter.
You don't have to be a man to be acknowledged - she'll honor anyone who helps clean up Brooklyn Park. She just feels that men have a thing for the dump.
"It's a right of passage for men to go the dump. They all want trucks because they need to go to the dump. When I drive down Route 10 and go under the Dover Road overpass, I see the trucks lined up to get into the dump on Saturday morning and Monday morning and Wednesday morning. They all go to the dump," Frank said.
"I think it's a wonderful idea. Anytime neighbors can help neighbors out, it's great. I think it could help beautify the neighborhood out there," said Mark Chang, a constituent services specialist with the county executive's office.
Besides, the women in the association are pretty busy - its committee to clean up Brooklyn Park is all female. Frank spoke with the Maryland Gazette after the committee had just met with a number of officials from county government to try to get more lidded recycling bins. She'd like to see 300 of the wheeled bins distributed throughout Arundel Village.
"We just sent out 65 courtesy letters (to residents) telling them you need to get trash cans with lids. You can get a fine of $125 for not having trash cans with lids. We're beginning to see some response," Frank said. "The ladies are getting things done."
"They are a small group of volunteers, but they are trying hard, doing the community surveys, driving around in their own cars on their own time to track down violations," Chang said. "It's going to take time but with their help, we'll see improvement."
Chang also said the county is initiating an educational campaign. "We're modeling it after a neighborhood in Severn - Arwell Court," Chang said.
Like Arwell Court, the Arundel Village neighborhood has many rental properties with absentee landlords, which makes reaching the people responsible for some of the health and zoning violations that plague the community difficult to reach.
"What Waste Management did is work with the community association (at Arwell Court) and send mailings to all the property owners over there about proper procedures. If there were any possible violations, the county would investigate and follow up and let them know," Chang said. "It has been very successful."
Kerry Topovski, the county Health Department's environmental health bureau director, agrees with Chang. Like many communities in Anne Arundel County, Arwell Court was previously managed through a state program called Collaborative Supervision and Focused Enforcement.
Through CSAFE, Topovski said, "There was an increased effort by the health department for quite a while, probably more than five years or so, in that community. That effort dissolved as of July 1."
After that, the Health Department saw an increase in reported violations. "In August, we were at the point where we were going to initiate higher enforcement procedures," she said. That's when Molly Cannon, the community service program manager of waste management services for the county Department of Public Works, stepped in.
Rather than issue legal notices and citations, they asked to work with the community to educate them. DPW worked directly with the residents, held meetings and sent out mailings. Since the initiative began in October, Topovski said the approach has been effective. "The inspectors are saying it's working."
All of the people involved in the effort agree that cleaning up Arundel Village is going to take a collaborative effort by the community and several county agencies. Chang said one week, an untagged vehicle could be parked on a front yard and it is a zoning violation. The resident receives a warning, and it is moved to the curb, where it is no longer a zoning violation but a problem for the county police.
"The Health Department, the county Waste Management division, Councilman Peter Smith's office - we are all working together to use county resources," Chang said.
This involves doing investigations where there might be violations, getting additional recycling bins into the community, and pumping educational material about proper waste disposal into the community by attending community and homeowner association meetings.
Topovski said the county is preparing to launch a community housing inspection program in September that will target the Brooklyn Park communities of Arundel Village and Belle Grove as well as Severn's Arwell Court.
"Since the C-Safe program went away, we recognize certain communities in the county need a little more attention than the rest of the county," she said. "We'll go through every 18 months and do a community sweep. We'll be looking at six public health standards that we believe are the basis for any community to maintain."
The six areas include health hazards such as homes with electricity run by generators; roosting of bats and birds and inadequacy of water supply or waste water management; safety hazards including adequate fencing around swimming pools; refuse and trash removal; securing vacant, unfit and unsecured structures; controlling rodents and addressing stagnant water.
The focus is not on peeling paint and broken shutters, which don't pose a health hazard, but rather things like tall grass which can hide rodents and vacant homes that can become a den for illegal drug activity.
"We are focusing on how property should be maintained to effectively protect public health and safety," she said.
Because it's a new program, Topovski said the county will take a least aggressive enforcement approach. "We'll issue warnings long before we issue notices and citations, which are more legal forms of enforcement," she said.
The approach will be more of a one-on-one approach between homeowners and inspectors on what they should be doing, helping with agency referrals and providing assistance when needed with seeking shelter and transition.
"Citations are our last resort," but it is an option the county is willing to take.
In the meantime, a little help from the community can go a long way. Which brings us back to Frank's call for men. Or anyone with a truck and a penchant for trips to the dump.
"When my husband was alive, we made a dump run at least once a month," Frank said. "If you see something on the side of the road - a tire on the side of the road, a spackle can - pick it up and take it. Give me a call and we'll put your name in the newsletter to salute you as a good citizen. We need to get pride back into Brooklyn Park. And if we can do it, then maybe other neighborhoods will catch on and start."
New club house
There's a new place to hang out for teens ages 12 to 17 who have struggled with mental health issues or substance abuse - the Rediscovering Me Club House.
Made possible through a partnership with Chesapeake Center for Youth Development and the county Health Department, the club house is an after-school program for troubled teens that offers food and fun served with educational and vocational training.
People can learn more at the open house from at 3 p.m. Friday at 5317 Ritchie Highway, in the same shopping center as Popeye's and Pizza Boli's.
The club house seeks to offers what it calls the "triple Rs" - relaxation, peer relations and a chance to release fears.
The program is open to Anne Arundel County school students who have a desire to learn new skills to lead to future job opportunities Youth who are enrolled or have been recommended to participate in mental health counseling or a substance abuse treatment program are the teens targeted in this program.
The club house hours are from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Registration and enrollment are free to those who qualify.
For details, contact the director Meleny Thomas at 443-226-4192 or the deputy director Erica Rosen at 410-615-2092.
It's madness at the Brooklyn Park library!
The branch at 1 E. 11th. Ave. will host its own March Madness from Monday through March 30. Head in each week and vote for your favorite books in four divisions: children, teen, adult and movie. As readers vote each week, the contenders will narrow down until the final week when it's down to one title from each category. Books and movies will go head-to-head until only the winners are left. The winning titles will be announced the week of April 1.
Other events and meetings at the library:
- Storytime - 10:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday.
- AARP Tax Assistance - 1 to 5 p.m. Monday and March 11, 18 and 25, by appointment.
- NAM meeting - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday.
- Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss - 3:30 p.m. March 7.
- RiverBrook World Impact - 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. March 7 and 21.
- AAII - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 9.
- Zeta Phi Beta - 2 to 4:45 p.m. March 9.
- Brooklyn Heights Improvement Association - 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. March 11.
- Brooklyn Park High School Alumni Association - 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. March 12.
- Phi Delta Kappa - noon to 4 p.m. March 16.
- Brooklyn Park Classic Computer Electronics Group - 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. March 18.
- Cedar Hill Cemetery expansion - 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. March 19
- Games Galore! - 3:45 p.m. March 21.
- Arundel Neighborhoods Association - 5:30 to 8:45 p.m. March 26.
- Make and take craft program - 3:30 p.m. March 28.
Alcoholics Anonymous meets from 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.
For details, call the library at 410-222-6260.
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