Supporters of a less congested 32nd Street Farmers Market area have unveiled detailed conceptual plans for "Waverly Commons," envisioned as a redeveloped area with a traffic roundabout, a pedestrian promenade and a public plaza.
And a family that owns property that would have to be torn down has signaled its support and its willingness to sell the buildings for redevelopment.
"I think it's a very good idea," said Brad Adler, of Owings Mills, whose family co-owns more than a dozen properties at 32nd Street and Merrymans Lane, next to the Baltimore City-owned parking lot where the Saturday market sets up.
Adler predicted, "It's going to come down to funding, and whether developers are interested in these tough economic times," said Adler, of Owings Mills.
The unfunded master plan, with several key elements that would have to be approved by Baltimore City, was shown to more than 30 people from Oakenshawe, Charles Village, Abell, Waverly and Old Goucher at a meeting Oct. 8 in the Waverly Library.
"Perhaps we could attract some investment to the area and really make this something the community could be proud of," Karen DeCamp, director of neighborhood programs at the Greater Homewood Community Corp., told the crowd.
Taking the lead in designing the Waverly Commons plan is the Neighborhood Design Center, a nonprofit whose goal is to help communities with improvement projects.
Other project participants, all on a volunteer basis, include local architectural firms Sanders Designs, STV, ArchPlan, and AECOM, and the engineering company Kittelson and Associates.
The master plan has not been presented to city planners and no cost analysis has been done.
"We want to get the juices flowing," said Trey Shamer, an intern architect with Sanders Designs, of Cockeysville.
The master plan is important because the market "is such a vital, integral part of what's happening in the community," said Kristen Humphrey, coordinator of the Neighborhood Design Center's "greeNDC" (stet) program.
The most closely watched idea is for a traffic roundabout at Barclay Street, East University Parkway, Merrymans Lane, and East 33rd Street, designed to relieve traffic congestion at the busy intersection.
"I think everyone will agree the intersection of University, 33rd and Barclay is a mess," said Ed Myers of Kittelson & Associates..
"It's a disaster from a traffic safety perspective," DeCamp said.
And Ed Myers of Kittelson said studies show that most of the nation's 2,500 roundabouts "are overwhelmingly safe."
But reaction from the audience to a roundabout was mixed.
"Roundabouts scare the heck out of me," said 40-year Abell resident Connie Whiting.
"That's why they're effective," countered Matthew Mosca, a resident of Oakenshawe.
Another option would be to make University Parkway one way, northwest, and Merrymans Lane one way, southeast, from the intersection of 33rd and Barclay, and re-signalize the traffic lights there.
Under either option, Merrymans Lane would be closed to traffic between Brentwood and Greenmount avenues, and would become a pedestrian promenade between Greenmount and the plaza.. Mosca suggested extending the promenade toward 32nd Street into Waverly, an idea that drew positive reaction from the audience.
Other ideas in the master plan include gateway landscaping and signs to give the market more identity, a public art component, decorative bike racks, seating areas, and solar canopies for shade and electricity.
Charles Village Civic Association member Sandy Sparks suggested widening the main market aisle for vendors and customers, which tends to get clogged. That idea also drew positive reaction from the audience.
Many at the meeting said they hope to make the 32nd Street Farmers Market a gateway to the Greenmount commercial corridor, so people can walk safely from surrounding communities to stores.
"We want to make Greenmount Avenue better," said Ebony Edwards, manager of the community organization Waverly Main Street. "We want to make 33rd Street better. We want to make sure we do the whole neighborhood."
For Edwards, the goal is "take Waverly to the next level."