A New Vision for Edgewood
Improved Transportation, Green Spaces and Bustling Commercial District
Harford Co. Economic Development
Feb 01, 2018
Edgewood, Maryland is primed for an economic renaissance. Bounded by major highways and bustling with public transportation options, Edgewood is a population hub and home of the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground South, a world-class research center in chemical and biological science and public health. How can Edgewood’s assets be leveraged to improve the community and military installation alike? The Edgewood Small Area Study, commissioned by Harford County government as part of an APG Joint Land Use Study, has produced an exciting vision for Edgewood’s future, with steps underway to turn that vision into reality. The effort will require persistent engagement from all stakeholders – the rewards will enrich lives for generations.
Edgewood Small Area Study
Conducted by the consulting firms of Thomas Comitta Associates and Camoin Associates, and the architectural firm of Frederick Ward Associates, the Edgewood Small Area Study was a collaborative effort among the Harford County Office of Economic Development, Army officials and community stakeholders. The study focused on the section of Old Edgewood, nearest the installation. Three well-attended visioning sessions gathered community input, which formed the basis of the study recommendations.
“We are encouraged by the community response thus far and look forward to the partnerships and support from APG, private businesses, civic organizations and everyday citizens who can bring the community’s ideas to fruition,” says Jake Adler of the Harford County Office of Economic Development and project manager for the study.
Implementation will focus on four core recommendations.
Building for the Future
Picture a streetscape with busy shops, green space, areas for community gatherings, and parks for people to stroll, shop and unwind. The study recommended a variety of land use options to revitalize Edgewood, including transit-oriented development capitalizing on its easy access to the Edgewood MARC Train Station. Opportunities include 28 acres of land in the heart of the Edgewood study area that stands ready for development at Washington Court, along with 11 acres at Nuttal Avenue. Both locations are former sites of Army housing, since demolished, presenting an open slate for a variety of uses by private investors or potential public/private partnerships.
Green and Growing
To enhance Edgewood’s curb appeal, the study recommends walking trails, dog parks, interactive playgrounds, and land for urban farming and engaging youth in beautification projects, all of which will in turn attract investment and new residents. To ensure that green spaces are enhanced and properly cared for, the study recommends that new development include plans to maintain and expand the area’s natural landscape.
Development of county-owned land at Nuttal Avenue as a local park is another opportunity identified by the study, and county officials will be coordinating this effort with other stakeholders to create useable green space in the area.
To bring neighbors together and to draw visitors, the study recommends that a large span of centrally located green space be designated for outdoor movie nights, summer concerts and other community gatherings. Additional recreational opportunities will bring similar benefits. A timely example is the BassMasters Elite Fishing Tournament announced for July. Planned at nearby Flying Point Park, this nationally televised event is eagerly anticipated in Edgewood and will shine a welcome spotlight on the area’s natural resources.
Edgewood is a hub of public transportation, making it a logical fit for transit-oriented development. Such development could involve new walkways and bike paths around the Edgewood MARC Train Station, and mixed-use retail with a variety of housing options for residents to live, shop and commute without a car. New coffee shops and bars in the area would have the added benefit of encouraging APG employees to stay local on their lunch break and on their way home.
In addition to rail, Harford Transit, the county’s bus transportation service, has a strong presence in Edgewood, and county officials are exploring the study’s recommendations to maximize its use. Options include expanding routes to major job centers locally and to Edgewood’s train station for jobs outside the county.
Acknowledging the need to overcome negative perceptions of Edgewood, the study recommends a multi-faceted approach with residents, business owners and local organizations working together to spark change. Harford County government will also play a role, by exploring federal and state funding and partnerships for community development.
More directly, the Harford County Office of Economic Development is offering a new financing program for façade improvements in Edgewood available to qualified businesses. Loans can be used to make aesthetic improvements and renovations, including new signage or lighting features, enhanced parking and accessibility, or updated equipment. The program for new and established businesses complements existing financing options offered by the county to support and attract business in the community. They include the Technology Attraction Fund, the Entrepreneurial Growth Loan and the Economic Development Opportunity Fund. More information about these options is available through the Office of Economic Development at www.harfordcountymd.gov/2318/Funding-Financial-Services.
To make a better first impression on visitors and prospective investors, the study also recommends upgrading the iconic “Welcome to Edgewood” sign. In response, county officials will be facilitating upgrades including new lighting and area landscaping. Once completed, the space can be used for gatherings to strengthen bonds between community members and APG, such as an annual tree-lighting ceremony during the holidays.
Next Steps Together
County leaders recognize that Edgewood’s revitalization will not happen overnight. Indeed, for area residents and their neighbors at APG to reap the potential economic benefits, implementation of the study’s recommendations will involve sustained engagement and collaboration among Harford County and Army officials, leaders from community organizations and community members. While the study provides the framework and Harford County government officials will help launch of some of the recommended projects, other stakeholders must also invest in bringing these recommendations to life. The goal is an Edgewood community rich with amenities, more enticing for private investment, more visually appealing for visitors, and more supportive of current and future residents.
To learn more, to join in the implementation, or to arrange for a representative to speak to your community group, please contact Jake Adler, Business Development Associate at the Office of Economic Development at 410-638-3414 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The next community meeting for Edgewood is set for Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Southern Precinct. The complete Edgewood Area Study is available online at www.harfordcountymd.gov/2356/Edgewood-Small-Area-Study.
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