We are fortunate to live in a green area of the city with fine schools, spacious homes and a strong sense of community. The new year begins a fresh slate. To improve the area, we might adopt a dozen resolutions.
1. Clean up our "lanes" (aka alleys). To see an exemplary lane, visit Hollywood Lane. Parallel to Roland Avenue and Long Lane, Hollywood runs for one block, between Kenwood and Ridgewood Roads. No trash, organic debris, leaves or grass clippings clutter the roadway. Recycling bins and trash cans sit with lids on next to garages. Unwanted household items do not linger, rusting for months. New trees and gardens have even been planted along this lane, which hands-down wins my Lane of the Year award.
2. Pick up trash. When walking, even to our own cars, it's not hard to bend over and pick up paper, cans and beer bottles. The city is terrific about emptying public trash cans, so do not hesitate to deposit picked-up debris in them.
3. Do not put dog droppings in other people's trash cans. After trash pickup, neighbors who work cannot return their receptacles to backyards until evening. It is a stinking mess to come home to a surprise "drop."
4. Ask lawn crews not to blow leaves into streets. Some crews consider a job complete only after aggressively blowing extraneous leaves out into the street, even while cars are passing. The leaves make roads slippery and clog gutters. After a strong rain, they float down gutters and cover storm drains.
5. When it snows, shovel the sidewalk in front of the house. This does not mean shoveling only the path from the front door to the street. This means shoveling the long sidewalk parallel to the street. Not only is this a courteous thing to do for those who walk for recreation, to school and from bus stops to jobs, it is the law.
6. Stop your car at well-marked pedestrian crosswalks on Roland Avenue. That, too, is the law.
7. Repair sidewalks. As part of the Greater Roland Park Master Plan, I hope that sidewalks, particularly those with tree roots pushing them up and those that are sunken and collect water (then ice), will be repaired. Many blocks of sidewalks on the east side of Roland Avenue are like wading pools or skating ponds for days after precipitation. Walking in the street there is not safe.
8. Drive more slowly on Roland Avenue. It is not a speedway, particularly at the southbound curve at Beechdale, in front of Petit Louis, and particularly on the approach to Cold Spring Lane. And if anyone can catch the license plate number on that metallic truck with double rear tires as it drag races up and down Roland, please report it to 911.
9. Do not hesitate to call 911. When suspicious people are looking into cars and backyards, call 911. The police have told us repeatedly that the only way they can help stop crime is if everyone reports suspicious activity. Let us be our neighbors' keepers by doing them a favor and calling 911 if someone is peering into their car or house.
10. Lock doors and arm security systems. Let us see a dip in neighborhood thefts by remembering to lock up and turn on security systems.
11. Volunteer at neighborhood libraries, retirement facilities, schools or nonprofits, such as the Hampden Family Learning Center. It takes a village to keep families and neighborhoods connected and strong.
12. Donate to Roland Park's Open Space Campaign. If every household would donate something, preserving Stony Run, the Roland Water Tower and the green space at the Baltimore Country Club would be guaranteed. Green cities draw business and promote good health.
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Here's to a clean, green and safe 2014!