(March 11, 2010)
- By Maryann Horn -
On Tuesday, March 2, the Essex-Middle River-White Marsh (EMRWM) Chamber of Commerce and the Marine Trades Association of Baltimore County held a luncheon at the Riverwatch Restaurant to honor Mary L. Harvey, Director of the Baltimore County Office of Community Conservation. Harvey was honored for her many years of service to both organizations. A public servant for more than 24 years, Harvey has supported many community development programs that have benefited our area. She is considered to be an innovator and visionary, and always open to new ways to serve the citizens of Baltimore County.
Harvey was directly involved in the Baltimore County Renaissance program that took several crime-ridden, rundown apartment complexes in Essex and Middle River and transformed them into peaceful, beautiful, well-kept communities. The negative stigma these areas had previously been assigned has now all but disappeared due to this positive redevelopment.
“Without Mary Harvey, the Renaissance would not have happened,” said Jim Smith, County Executive for the past eight years. “All that has happened has had Mary Harvey’s hands in it. Essex, Middle River and the waterfront are great beneficiaries of the way Mary contributed to Baltimore County. Her approach was to get people involved.”
Smith pointed out some of the Renaissance projects. “Riverdale Apartments are gone. Now there is Waterview. Chesapeake Village - gone. Wilson Point Park is there now. Tall Trees no longer exists. Now there is the Fields at Renaissance Park and where Kinglsey Park used to be, Renaissance Square is rising. Mary had her hands in every one of those projects. She was also involved in Riverpoint, Hawthorne Trail and the osprey welcome statue.”
Smith went on to say UDAT (Urban Design Assistance Team) was Harvey’s idea. “UDAT brings people together and gets them excited bringing their ideas to the community.” He congratulated Harvey and thanked her for her commitment, dedication, enthusiasm and outreach. “It was an exciting ride for the last eight years in Baltimore County, for all of Baltimore County.”
Other dignitaries present at the luncheon had good things to say about Harvey as well. Bob Palmer, Marine Trades Association said, “I wish I had the magic you have to get things done.” Gayle Adams, EMRWM Chamber President, noted, “Mary is unflappable. She handles things with humor and joy.”
Harvey received citations from the County Council presented by Councilmen Gardina, Kamenetz and Bartenfelder); John Polek, President, Marines Trades Association; and from the Maryland General Assembly, presented by Fred Theiss, representing Senator Norman Stone.
Harvey started out in public service as an aid to Councilmen Volz and Gardina. She said she had the opportunity to work with two County Executives, Jim Smith and Dutch Ruppersberger. “They absolutely loved this county. That came through with all that has been accomplished. The County Executive allowed us to focus on one specific area. We had the money and we spent it wisely.”
She said there were lessons learned. “How to interact with others. We learned how the community wanted to be treated and what they responded to. Engaging the community is the way.
“We weathered some trying times. Change was hard. Many issues were crime issues,” she explained. She said Jim Johnson of the Essex Precinct reported police officers were getting beaten within an inch of their lives. “Drive-bys have a whole new meaning today.”
Mary gave much credit to her “great staff,” and she said the local institutions never let the community down. Businesses and community came together.
In light of the standing ovation, everyone present at the luncheon honoring Mary Harvey agreed the honor was well deserved.
In 2004, the Baltimore County Council adopted the Renaissance initiative as a golden opportunity to turn underused or neglected parcels of land into community assets. This involves only properties within the Urban Rural Demarcation Line (URDL) and only where community residents want such redevelopment to take place. This “collaborative” design process involves full community participation in order to ensure certainty that what is planned will be built, thus strengthening our communities.” Visit www.baltimorecountymd.gov/agencies/planning/renaissance
for more information.