Bill requires University to disclose construction projects
By Olivia Obineme
Published: Sunday, April 11, 2010
After some amendments, House Bill 348 now stands as law mandating Towson University to notify surrounding community neighbors of any construction occurring on campus.
The General Assembly was unanimous.
This bill also affects Salisbury University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and University of Maryland, College Park.
“We don’t feel it is necessary to legislate what any good neighbor should do,” assistant to the president for external relations and communications, Marina Cooper, said.
The bill came about due to many new developments on university campuses in the bill.
Cooper said the University already notifies communities of present and future plans of construction, as well as other University events.
“From fireworks to disaster drills, to construction projects to tree cleaning and landscape clean-up, we do our best to notify our neighbors with common boundaries –and when possible, work with them,” she said.
Prior to its amendments, the bill read, “… and generally relating to providing notice and consulting with communities before designing a new structure or substantially modifying the exterior of an existing structure regarding the new design or substantial exterior modification of structures at institutions of higher education.”
Kris Henry, editor of forgeflyer.com, a Web site for families in the Towson-North Baltimore area, lives with her family south of Dumbarton Rd., about half a mile from the construction of the new arena.
Though she lives far away from the construction, she said she has not been following this bill closely, but has noticed and blogged about those who have.
“At first they were thrilled that TU –and any other Maryland college would need to consult with surrounding communities before making modifications that could affect those communities, such as a new stadium right up against people’s back yards,” she said.
However, after the amendments, many of those once thrilled about the bill changed their minds.
“The amendments appear to water down what it is a college needs to do,” she said. “Instead of a university saying, ‘We’d like to put a 10-story building next to your house; let’s talk about that so we can see what you think and get your input before moving ahead,’ it seems this legislation says the University must simply say, ‘FYI, we’re putting a 10-story building next to your house –just wanted to let you know.’”
But to Rodgers Forge community vice president Lawrence Swoboda, just having strong communication from the University would benefit everyone.
“While there is no requirement to consult with communities, certainly having the University notify us can only help,” Swoboda said.
According to Swoboda, developer professionals, such as construction workers and engineers are already involved in University projects from the get-go.
“There are some of us who don’t understand what is going on in the projects. We don’t need to know the specific details, just need an understanding of what is happening, from the beginning,” he said.
Overall, Swoboda said he believes Towson is currently doing a good job with communication.
“In general, Towson University is a good neighbor. Could they be doing better? Of course –all of the communities have different concerns,” he said.
According to Cooper, West Village Commons and West Village housing Phase 2 is underway to add more on-campus housing.
Story: Courtesy of The Towerlight
‘Talk’ debates smoking ban
By Olivia Obineme
Published: Sunday, February 21, 2010
The week of snow allowed students and faculty to cool down, but the first New York Times Talk Lunch of the semester began noon last Wednesday with the heated conversations of the University’s smoking ban.
Dowell Health Center Health Promotion and Education Services coordinator Kate Reeder hosted the discussion and shared three related articles, which touched on how smoking bans have improved the health of cities, how people are trying to stop others from smoking in apartment complexes and how two hospitals want to go further than their private grounds into the public with the ban.
For the University, the smoking ban has already been decided and will be in effect Aug. 1, 2010. According to the University’s Web site, the ban will “designate all property owned and operated by Towson University as smoke-free.”
Many of those who attended the talk had mixed feelings with the University and its decision to rid the entire campus of smoking and questioned the legal right of having the choice to smoke.
“I think Towson is forcing smokers and putting them in a predicament they don’t have to be in,” biology graduate student Stephanie Koontz said.
Koontz, a non-smoker, said she believed there should be designated areas for smokers instead, so students and faculty smokers do not have to go far away from campus to smoke.
Nevertheless, Reeder said that many people do not understand the University’s reasoning behind this ban.
“There is a misconception here. It is not a ban to tell smokers that they have to quit,” Reeder said. “We are getting on board with environmental factors and providing cleaner air on campus.”
Reeder also added that the University sees that there is a trend with businesses going smoke free and believed it is part of a culture shift.
“It started with bars and restaurants going smoke free and it is something that people are starting to accept,” she said.
Reeder and the University know that accepting the ban will take some time, but hope it will not take more than a couple months.
“We are not forcing any of the smokers. They have a choice to quit and we have free services and programs to help them if they want to quit,” Reeder said.
Although there were many who disliked the decision the University has made, others at the discussion, like secondary education professor Jeff Passe said people will just have to deal with it.
“All kinds of policies are set in this country, so this is just another one that I agree with,” Passe said.
The next NYT Talk is scheduled for Tuesday, March 9.
Story: Courtesy of The Towerlight
HOMELESS HELP — New healthcare center brings hope
By Olivia Obineme
Published: Friday, January 29 2010
Sitting in a wheelchair outside Our Daily Bread on Thursday afternoon, Louise Daniels clenches her fist, fighting the bite of a stiff midwinter wind.
Homeless for three years, the 43-year-old mother of four had two fingers amputated last week — the brittle bandages still tightly wound, blood stains, surgery she attributes in part to years of being homeless and going without medical care.
(I.V. Photos/Stephen Janis)
NOWHERE ELSE TO GO
“Being homeless is stressful,” she said. “People get real sick, they get pneumonia from being outside and I had diabetes and it made it worse.”
That’s why when Daniels and a friend happened upon the new Healthcare for the Homeless facility on the 400 block of Fallsway in downtown Baltimore — set to open in days — she was happy,
I said, “Look at that, that’s a good thing; there’s a place for people who have nowhere else to go.”
The 25-year-old nonprofit organization is now in final preparations for the move after spending the past 18 years at 111 Park Ave.
The move into the $15.5 million facility is an “opportunity to help more people,” said HCH CEO Jeff Singer.
According to the agency’s spokesperson, Kevin Lindamood, the old building was closed Thursday and remains closed Friday and Saturday; the new Fallsway facility opens to accept patients on Monday.
FIRST DENTAL CLINIC FOR HOMELESS
The new facility is triple the size of the former location, and will include a pharmacy and pediatric clinic as well as Maryland’s first dental clinic for the homeless.
“The goal is to give the homeless enough services and to help them get housing,” Singer said.
The population of homeless individuals in Baltimore increased 12 percent between 2007 and 2009, from 3,001 homeless in 2007 to 3,419 in January 2009, according to the Baltimore Homeless Point-In-Time 2009 census, which is conducted biannually by Baltimore City Homeless Services.
“Part of it is that apartments have been foreclosed or some people are losing their jobs, creating an increase in homelessness,” Singer said.
INTENSIFIED NEED FOR HELP
The increase in the homeless population has intensified the need for help, including healthcare, said Greg Sileo, Baltimore Homeless Services Inc.’s director of outreach services. “It’s a given trend due to the economy.”
“I think that most homeless shelters around the nation are facing the same thing,” added Diane Glauber, president of Baltimore Homeless Services.
“Many cities are far worse than Baltimore.”
However the increased demand for medical treatment for homeless people is not limited to the city.
Demand is also on the rise in Baltimore County, said Dr. Melly Goodell, medical director of HCH’s Baltimore County branch, who has seen an increase in the number of patients at her newly opened facility that provides healthcare for the county’s homeless.
“[The increase] has direct ties to the economy, and people have lost jobs in areas like the housing industry,” Goodell said, adding, “We are seeing an increase in the number of new patients accessing our care, we feel in part because of an increased number of homeless in this area.”
Since the clinic opened in late January 2008 at Franklin Square Hospital’s Eastern Family Resource Center, Goodell said, the clinic has had 4,400 visits from about 1,000 women, men and children.
COMPREHENSIVE MEDICAL CARE
“More people know about us and are seeking us out as the only comprehensive medical care services specifically for homeless individuals in Baltimore County,” she explained.
The U.S. Department of Health funded the facility as part of a three-year grant that provides “comprehensive care to homeless residents of Baltimore County,” according to the facility’s web site.
Added Goodell: “We make every attempt to serve all in need, but we have more consolidated service.”
“Our barriers in general are inadequate dental services, inadequate mental health services, poor transportation, limited access to medical specialties — cardiology, neurology, and other specialists, prescription medication coverage — expensive mental health meds in particular,” she said.
“In our new facility, we’ll continue the high-quality care we’ve provided since 1985 and help even more of our most vulnerable neighbors move from the streets to the mainstream,” Singer added.
Lindamood said the new HCH facility will have “grand-opening activities” set for the public on March 25.
I.V. Senior Reporter & Content Director Stephen Janis contributed to this firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtesy of Investigative Voice
Winter break…gone so soon?
Though many are attending a minimester course at Towson —I’ll be there for the day for something else: 16 News.
Yes, it’s time to get back to the office and and finish some unfinished business from 2009.
I have 5 courses for the 2010 Spring semester:
19th Century French Literature
Journalism & New Media II
Principles of Film & Media Production
Plus, I will continue my work with the campus television station as executive producer of 16 News, airing a show each Tuesday. I will also continue writing for the campus newspaper, The Towerlight. I also plan to have an entertainment radio show, where I’ll be partnered up with Louis Vieira…or as you may know him in my other blog as “Miata Kid.”
Yes, this will be a challenging and interesting semester.
Countdown to Monday, January 25, 2010…first day back to school.