The Maryland Port Administration’s (MPA) Masonville Cove Environmental Restoration Project has received a Special Recognition award by the Coastal America Partnership. The award recognizes the efforts to transform one of Baltimore Harbor’s most contaminated sites into an area that will benefit wildlife, citizens and the port industry. It is the third national recognition for this project.

“As one of Maryland’s great environmental success stories, the Masonville project has succeeded in cleaning up more than 60,000 tons of trash and debris along the Baltimore waterfront and working hand-in-hand with local communities to benefit the environment,” said MPA Deputy Executive Director M. Kathleen Broadwater.  “In addition to the myriad of green enhancements and features, this multi-layered project will over the long-term also develop a new marine terminal for the Port of Baltimore using dredged material that will help sustain and grow business and jobs.”   

The centerpiece of the Masonville restoration project is an environmental education center which opened in 2009. It is a “near-zero, net-energy” building that uses the latest environmental advances. The building includes: a ground-source air conditioning system that uses about half the energy of a conventional building; solar energy power; rain barrels that collect roof rain runoff to water greenery and flowers; a reflective roof that decreases the amount of heat transferred into the building; and an energy recovery ventilator where exhaust air is used to heat or cool fresh air using a heat exchanger, making ventilation more efficient.

The Living Classrooms Foundation and the National Aquarium in Baltimore develop and direct the center’s education programs while the Baybrook community association organizes family-friendly activities. Since opening its doors last year, more than 2,000 Maryland children and adults have visited the center and learned about the local environment, wildlife and importance of recycling.

The environmental education center is just part of a larger restoration project of more than 54 acres of shoreline along the Patapsco River’s Middle Branch near the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay communities. Other key elements include a new environmental park and wildlife area; a series of hiker-biker trails that will provide local residents access to the Patapsco River; a boat ramp limited to non-power boats like kayaks and canoes; and improvements to stream and fish habitat. Long term plans include developing a new marine terminal for the Port of Baltimore using dredged material to build a containment site on the remaining 141 acres.

In 2010, the Masonville project received two national awards – the Environmental Excellence award by the National Association of Environmental Professionals and an Environmental Mitigation award by the American Association of Port Authorities.

The MPA has worked since the beginning of this project with citizens of the neighboring communities of Brooklyn and Curtis Bay. Since the beginning, representatives told the MPA that one of their reasons for supporting this initiative was to show their children the importance of caring for the environment.

In 2007, the MPA began the project with a massive clean up. More than 60,000 tons of trash and debris have been removed. Some of the debris dates back more than a century to the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. To date, the clean-up has included the removal of more than:

  • 306,000 gallons of petroleum-tainted water;
  • 17,000 tons of timber;
  • 6,000 tons of concrete rubble;
  • 5,000 feet of electrical wire; and
  • 4,000 pounds of PCB-containing electrical equipment.

Besides trash, there are also 27 abandoned vessels being remediated or removed from the water at the site. The site is the former home of Kurt Iron and Metal and the Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock Company.

The Masonville Cove project brings together many goals of Maryland’s Smart, Green and Growing initiative, a multi-agency, Statewide pr