Friday, November 02, 2007

Magic in the Water

to: Fred Scharmen

Hi Fred,

There’s a public hearing at Digital Harbor High School (very close to you) this evening re. the Swann Park issue, which, much as I expected, is not dead yet. See Balto Sun last Friday. It’s at 6.30 p.m. if you want and/or C. want to go. If you do I’ll see you there.


{from the article:

'The waterfront park is owned by the city. But much of the cost of cleaning up the ball fields will be borne by Honeywell International, a New Jersey defense contracting giant that assumed liability for the factory's pollution after Honeywell was acquired by Allied's successor company in 1999.

Allied deliberately withheld test results three decades ago showing high arsenic levels in Swann Park, a city health department task force concluded in July. Allied allowed local health officials in 1976 to falsely believe that levels of arsenic in the park were low. But the company knew that large amounts of the carcinogen billowed through torn filters on smokestacks at the DDT factory, blanketing the ball fields "like snow," according to the city task force.'

By Tom Pelton, Sun reporter
October 27, 2007



[summary of meeting: 6:30 - 9pm, 11/01/07]

- intro and background from representatives of the Maryland Department of the Environment: Park closure on April 19th 2007, subsequent investigation, etc ...

- outline of remediation planning and design from Honeywell representatives

- introduction to Swann Park Improvement Master Plan, dated June 1 2007, and credited to Mahan Rykiel Associates, Inc. {warning - their website almost crashed my computer. -Ed.}

- Q&A Highlight Summaries:

Q: I understand the guys from Honeywell talked about the soil sampling, I wonder if anyone's tested the water in the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River to see if any contamination from runoff or seepage has taken place or is taking place?

A: (Horacio Tablada, MDE) There are plans for that testing to occur, yes.

Q: Everyone's talking about the park, when there are people living here, why are you guys worried about a f*cking park, when there's people's lives at stake? Those ten houses down there McComas St. -

A: There are seven houses.

Q: Okay, those seven houses, have got people in them, why are you guys spending - how much is this going to cost?

A: (Honeywell representative) 3.6 million dollars.

Q: Why are you guys spending 3.6 million dollars to rebuild that park, when you could use that money to relocate those people and get them out of there?


A: We've responded to the cleanup directives in the order that we've received them, we got the cleanup order for the park first.

Q: There's a Master Plan (PDF) for this area, the Middle Branch of the Patapsco, we know you're bringing in the Aquarium and all that, and there are developers involved. We all know there's Magic in the Water. Given that the plan for these park improvements seemed to materialize pretty quickly, I want to know, does Honeywell have any stake or interest in any of the development plans for the region, or any connection to the developers?

A: (Horacio Tablada, MDE) Perhaps the gentlemen from Honeywell would like to respond to that?

A: (Honeywell representatives) No, no interest.

- further discussion of health risks and statistics from scientists at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and Dr. Joshua Scharfstein, Baltimore City Commissioner of Health.

- further Q&A regarding health risks, in particular the risks in the population living immediately adjacent to the park, City and Agency representatives indicate that there is more data to be collected before an assesment of risks can be complete.


{Later, interested in learning more about the area's Master Plan, I Google 'baltimore patapsco middle branch master plan'. The PDF from which this image is taken, is hosted at


... at the bottom of the page is a logo:



Eric said...

nice sleuthing. is this some kind of formal investigation / alternate proposal of yours? i confess i'm curious what piqued your curiousity in the whole thing. although i also confess it's pretty awesome.

sevensixfive said...

Haha, no, I've got no alternate proposal, I'm just always interested masterplans and derelict places. Besides that, I live about four blocks from this place so there's kind of a stake there as well.

Eric said...

word. i created this thing called the Museum for Missing Places a couple years ago that was all about less- acknowledged places, but in houston. you might find it interesting:

also, i work for an architecture office that's doing a masterplan for that post-industrial area of westport (actually with Field Operations from nyc). but i had no idea the railraod bridge connected to swann park or thereabouts. frankly i had no idea where swann park was.

i'm guessing you're an architect too?

sevensixfive said...

Leshy - send me an email:

I think I know some people you know.

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