Like many urban seaports, the Port of Baltimore had a long and expensive learning curve regarding community and environmental concerns over plans to dispose of dredged sediments. The volume of dredged material combined with proximity of industrially developed land and residential neighborhoods makes siting of dredged material placement facilities especially challenging. In the case of the Port's Hart Miller Island Containment Facility, challenges went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Port won, but paid a huge price in project cost, political capital and schedule delays.
After a particularly contentious period in the late 1990s, the Port was poised to try a different approach. EcoLogix Group was selected to assist the Port in reinventing the way in which they engaged with external stakeholders. Our community engagement approach has proven results in transitioning development apprehension into opportunities for creative solutions.
We focus on strengthening public participation in project regulatory reviews by fostering early and meaningful input, increasing transparency, having a clear message and helping clients adapt to stakeholder concerns. EcoLogix Group's community engagement process provided a much more efficient and collaborative counter-point to the long, expensive and caustic way of previously doing business.
In the case of the Masonville Dredged Material Containment Facility project the need for confined placement of dredge material from the Baltimore Harbor was successfully addressed and a cove decimated by a century of pollution was cleaned up. Over 60,000 tons of waste was removed to make way for wetlands, nature trails and native wildlife habitats. As an outcome of the process led by EcoLogix Group, the local community gained access to the waterfront for the first time in over 70 years, an environmental education center was established to provide hands on educational opportunities for local students and ongoing environmental education programs were established with the Living Classrooms Foundation and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The Masonville Dredged Material Containment Facility project established a model of how to effectively pair community and Port goals: