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Local News

In the Media: Chemical Byproduct in Dundalk Water; State Money Goes to Baltimore Storefronts

Baltimore City skyline.
Phil Gold

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Dundalk area water customers notified of chemical byproduct in tap

"About 3,000 city water customers in the Dundalk area will receive a notice about a violation due to an excessive amount of a chemical byproduct in their drinking water that officials said Friday requires notification but no other actions.

"The Baltimore Department of Public Works announced that quarterly sampling from February 2015 to January showed an average value for haloacetic acids that exceeded the maximum contaminant level by 3 parts per billion. Haloacetic acids form when disinfectants react with organic matter in water, according to the agency. Levels at the sampling location on Wise Avenue have since returned to normal.

"'Although this incident was not an emergency, DPW customers have the right to know what happened and what we are doing to correct the situation,' the agency wrote in a statement. 'Customers do not need to boil water or take other corrective actions.'

"About half of the 410,000 residential and commercial customers that Baltimore's water system directly serves are in Baltimore County.

"DPW routinely monitors dozens of sampling stations for drinking water contaminants, the agency says. The maximum level for haloacetic acids is 60 parts per billion. The average value for the Wise Avenue location was 63 parts per billion, during the impacted time frame.

"Annual averages for all other sampling locations were below the maximum level, according to officials. The agency says its monthly sampling for haloacetic acids is done three times as often as required."

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From the Baltimore Sun: Port Covington developer pushes request for record tax deal with unprecedented ad campaign

"Even before asking Baltimore for the largest special tax deal in the city's history, developers of the multibillion-dollar Port Covington project embarked on an unprecedented campaign to influence public opinion that has cost at least hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"The muscular marketing effort by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank's Sagamore Development highlights the jobs and public amenities it says will be made possible if the city agrees to float $660 million in bonds to build infrastructure for the massive project.

"Analysts estimate the campaign has cost more than $1 million — including more than $500,000 in television commercials, plus radio and newspaper ads and a robust social media presence.

"It's a response to critics, some of whom say the deal would further enrich Plank, a billionaire, at the expense of city services in Baltimore's poorer neighborhoods.

"M.J. 'Jay' Brodie, who led the Baltimore Development Corp. under four mayors, said he's never seen such a campaign in the city.

"He noted that previous tax deals have been for far less. The cost of infrastructure at Harbor Point, for instance, was $107 million. It's $535 million at Port Covington.

"Sagamore was running ads even before details of the request were made public in March, according to Federal Communications Commission filings.

"Sagamore Development Co., the real estate firm privately owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, on May 26 cleared a first hurdle in its plan to redevelop Port Covington, winning backing from a city design panel for an ambitious master plan that would create a dense mixed-use district on industrial South Baltimore waterfront. Sagamore has outlined its plans to add a new street grid, about 42 acres of parks, and some 15 million square feet in new construction including a new Under Armour campus to the area, located south of Federal Hill and divided from the city by Interstate 95. 

Greg Hoplamazian, assistant professor of communication at Loyola University Maryland, call the marketing blitz 'a huge pre-emptive strike.'

"'They are trying to start the conversation and control the conversation,' he said. 'They don't necessarily need the public's support for this deal, but if they have it, it becomes harder for the politicians to vote against it.'”

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From the Baltimore Sun: Baltimore businesses trying to rebuild after unrest get state money to improve storefronts

"Along a struggling stretch of North Carey Street, Maisha McCoy plans to add lighting, new awnings and possibly wrought-iron window guards to spruce up the front of her pharmacy.

"She'll pay for it using money from a new state program designed to help Baltimore businesses damaged during last year's riots.

"McCoy passed medication to her patients through a cutout in the window grate in the weeks following the unrest, when her store in Harlem Park was repeatedly robbed and vandalized. She said the $10,000 grant would give the business a fresh look, blending her need for security with her desire to be a welcoming community anchor.

"'I built this one customer at a time,' said McCoy, who opened Pharmacy Solutions in 2013. 'I came in and set up shop. I serviced all of the patients as best as I could. I have a mission here.'

"McCoy's is one of nearly 50 businesses affected by the unrest that will receive up to $10,000 each in storefront improvements, part of a $650,000 program by the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

"The effort also includes on-the-job training for unemployed city residents and custom architectural designs.

"Housing Secretary Kenneth C. Holt said the state is trying to strengthen neighborhoods by putting people to work and drawing customers to community centers, corner stores and retail shops. Businesses receiving aid include a barbershop in Park Heights, a social club in Penn North and a jewelry store in Highlandtown.

"Thriving 'main streets,' Holt said, support successful businesses and, in turn, vibrant housing markets by attracting people to live, work and shop. The grant money will pay for new exterior paint and signs, carpentry work and entryway enhancements, such as new windows or doors."

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