Ensor Street Organizing

VOLAR is organizing for community control of the Ensor Street Greenspace. 

There is a strip of green space (601 Ensor Street), that borders Dollar Alley and is adjacent to the VOLAR Community Hub, that is currently owned by the city of Baltimore.

The neighbors reported that the land has been poorly maintained with overgrowth
bushes, inviting in rodents, mosquitoes and dumping (above).

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Our Process for acquiring 601 Ensor Street

VOLAR first approached City Coucilperson, Robert Stokes, in mid-2020 to discuss acquiring this land for the benefit of the community. After meeting several times with Councilperson Stokes and different representatives from Planning, Housing Administration of Baltimore City, and Department of Housing and Community Development, VOLAR was told that the City of Baltimore had to check with the private developers of the Oldtown Mall area to find out if they had any use for the land. They wanted to make sure the land will serve the ‘best and highest use’ before determining if VOLAR could purchase the land for community benefit. 

After waiting several months for a response (which still has not arrived) VOLAR began organizing for greater input from neighbors in the surrounding area. In the month of April VOLAR members knocked on more than 1200 doors, asking residents about their thoughts on this greenspace and collected 324 signatures in support of VOLAR purchasing this land. 

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VOLAR's petition for Ensor Street (above)

Click here to sign our petition.

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Door-knocking and talking to neighbors in the community-building relationships (above)

On May 1 neighbors were invited to collectively design (community visioning session) what should be in this green space. Suggestions included: play area, community garden, basketball court, meditation garden, wifi park, keep large trees to maintain wildlife. 

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Community visioning session (above)

In early June VOLAR applied to purchase 601 Ensor Street through the Baltimore City Vacants to Value program. 

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Application for Vacants to Value (above)

Taking care of our neighborhood

In the meantime, VOLAR has been cleaning and maintaining part of the space and planning one-on-one follow up with neighbors who signed our petition to build relationships and engage residents in determining what happens in their community.

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