Showing posts with label Inner Harbor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Inner Harbor. Show all posts

Friday, October 7, 2011

Spray Paint Artist Rejects Plea Deal

Boardwalk- Ocean City
Baltimore Sun Photo/ Eric Doerzbach

At Baltimore City District Court on North Avenue, Mark Chase, 29, of Baltimore's Brooklyn neighborhood, said prosecutors offered him a deal that would require him to perform community service after which they would drop the charge against him: one count of peddling without a license.

Instead, Chase pleaded not guilty Thursday, and prosecutor Patricia Deros told the judge that Chase had rejected the state's offer.

Details of the deal were not discussed in court, but Baltimore City State's Attorney spokesman Mark Cheshire said that it would have allowed Chase to avoid a conviction.

Still, Chase said the deal, in his view, would be the same thing as admitting he had committed the crime.

"I'm not going to plead guilty for doing something that's my constitutional right," said Chase, who paints science-fiction landscapes, mountains, waterfalls and American flags. "I'm not going to compromise my morals."

His trial date is scheduled for Dec. 2.

Baltimore police arrested Chase on Sept. 18 at the Inner Harbor when he attempted to set up an area where he could paint at Light and Pratt streets.

Video viewed by The Baltimore Sun shows police telling Chase that he could not paint there without a permit. The video shows Chase explaining that he had won a court injunction in U.S. District Court and had a right to paint where he was.

"It is my constitutional right to be here without prior approval," Chase said to the officer at one point.

"Your constitutional rights have nothing to do with the law," the officer said.

The arrest came two weeks after Chase temporarily won the right to paint on Ocean City's boardwalk. The injunction allows Chase to paint there for as long as his lawsuit continues against Ocean City for what he alleges are violations of the civil rights of street performers and artists by requiring permits and prohibiting them from selling their work in certain areas.

At the time of his arrest, Chase was not at McKeldin Square, a brick plaza at the southeast corner of Pratt and Light streets, which police have designated a "protest zone" where up to 25 people can gather without a permit to demonstrate. The officers said they would give him a citation, but because he refused to move, they arrested him, Chase said.

At the courthouse Thursday, Chase said he hoped to expand the area downtown where artists and protesters can demonstrate.

"We're going to try to open up the whole Inner Harbor," he said.


Friday, December 31, 2010

Dog Rescued From Icy Water At Inner Harbor By Baltimore Policeman

This is such a wonderful story.jmmb

Officer Americus J. Rambeau wasn't diving for a penny in the Inner Harbor on Wednesday night, but he did swim to save one.

Rambeau and other officers from the city police's marine unit rescued a black Labrador mix named Penny from a pier at Harborview Marina after she left her Federal Hill home, crossed Key Highway and leaped into the cold water.

"It was the right thing to do. [Penny] was struggling. Exhausted," said Rambeau, who donned a cold-water rescue suit and had to swim under two piers to capture the dog.

Penny's owner, Rachel Naumann, who asked to meet the officers from the unit Thursday and hugged them, said she was at work when her roommate opened the front door to sign for a package and Penny got out.

She said she spent hours searching the streets.

"I wasn't exactly sure what happened," Naumann, 25, said, but later "I heard a boat was involved" from a "friend of a friend" who saw the rescue take place. She said it was estimated that 1-year-old Penny spent nearly two hours in the cold water.

Police first received a 911 call about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday that a dog appeared to be in distress in the water, said Detective Jeremy Silbert, a department spokesman. A marine unit supervisor drove in a patrol car to the Harborview Marina in the 1000 block of Key Highway. Three officers went there by boat and spotted Penny. As they tried to get close to her, Rambeau said, she swam away underneath the pier.

He said, however, that Penny stopped struggling once she saw him in the water. She "was happy to have someone to hang onto," he said, once he got close enough to grab her.

After he got Penny safely onto the boat, she was taken by animal control officers to their facility for treatment for cold-water exposure and hypothermia, Silbert said.

Air temperatures at the time were around 38 degrees, Silbert said. According the National Weather Service, the water temperature was in the low 30s.

Rambeau did not require treatment.

Sgt. Michael Kain, who also aided in the rescue, said it was difficult to see the black dog at night in the dark water, but "it would've been the wrong thing for anyone to turn their back."

Rambeau said he loves animals — he owns
cats — and didn't question jumping in after Penny. He's had to make similar rescues for dogs, cats and, more commonly, deer, he said. In 1998, The Sun wrote about another Rambeau rescue when he helped save a 79-year-old man who jumped into the Inner Harbor.

When Naumann picked Penny up from the shelter Thursday morning, she said, Penny was huddled under a pile of blankets unhurt but looked frightened. When Naumann opened the crate door, she said, Penny lifted her head and happily licked Naumann's hand.

Naumann said that Penny was wearing dog tags with her contact information, and she had a microchip implanted in her on Thursday. She had to pay a $95 fee to get Penny from the shelter, but, she said, "I'm just happy she's back."

Penny is not normally a water dog, Naumann said. She thought Penny was most likely going after a seagull.

On Thursday afternoon, Penny was still exhausted. She was a little shy in front of TV crews and her rescuers, darting behind Naumann and twisting her new purple Ravens leash.

But, Naumann said, "she's getting a big dinner tonight."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jelly Fish In The Inner Harbor Is A Sign Of Drought

Inner Harbor's no place to swim anyway, but now you can add another reason not to go in the water downtown: jellyfish.

Softball-sized, milky white and bell-shaped, with long tentacles trailing, the gelatinous animals could be seen moving slowly about Thursday in the murky water by the Constellation.

Scientists identified them as Chrysaora quinquecirrha — the most common of sea nettles in the Chesapeake Bay. Usually, though, they hang out farther south, where they sting unwary bathers and swimmers.

But the researchers said the lack of rainfall this summer likely triggered the harbor invasion by making the water here just salty enough to attract them. It's been abnormally dry on both sides of the bay, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, with moderate to extreme drought gripping the western end of the state and the lower Eastern Shore.

"What apparently has happened is that the optimal salinity range has shifted up the bay," said Raleigh Hood, a biological oceanographer at the University of Maryland's Horn Point Environmental Laboratory near Cambridge. "Normally, down here, we're sea nettle heaven."

Hood said he's not surprised by their northward migration this year. He and Christopher Brown, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, developed a system for predicting and mapping their abundance and spread, based on a variety of factors like water salinity and temperature. The computer model shows little likelihood of finding nettles in the Patapsco River, but it does show that salinity levels in the harbor and just outside it are elevated now, right around what sea nettles find most comfortable.

"They're happy as clams in that range," Hood said.

Sea nettles can be found year-round in the middle and lower bay and its rivers, from around Annapolis south, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program's field guide. They're at their peak in July and August, typically in the moderately salty middle of the bay, according to Denise Breitburg, senior scientist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater. But they can remain abundant as late as October, she added in an e-mail.

While the harbor influx of sea nettles is just one more weather-related oddity in a year of extremes, it's hard to say whether it has any broader relevance, Hood says.

"Global jellyfish populations are increasing," he explained. "That's a pretty good indication the world is going out of kilter." Some have attributed the jelly surge to global warming, others to the degradation of coastal waters worldwide.

Here in the Chesapeake Bay, though, it's not clear whether sea nettles are increasing or declining, Hood said. The average water temperature has increased slightly — possibly an indication of climate change — and water quality generally is considered poor throughout much of the estuary.

But Breitburg, who's been studying the bay's jellyfish for years, found that sea nettle densities have actually declined since the late 1980s, according to an article published last year by the Maryland Sea Grant program. She suggested that the dropoff may be related to the swoon of the bay's oysters, despite the bay's pollution and signs of climate shift.

Jellyfish lay eggs in the water, which settle to the bottom and attach to hard surfaces like rocks, pilings and oyster shells. But as oysters have dwindled, their shell-covered reefs have been smothered in silt, depriving jellyfish polyps of places to spend the winter.

Even if the numbers are down a bit, there are still plenty out there to nail folks who spend time in or on the water.

"I got stung by one just the other day," Hood said. "It's annoying but not life-threatening, unless you're allergic to it."

Of course, that shouldn't be an issue in the harbor — Baltimore health authorities warn against swimming there because of potentially disease-causing bacteria in the water.

But the ghostly looking nettles are safe to watch, as long as you stay out of the drink. And if it's any consolation — or motivation to get out to see them — this is likely their last hurrah. The nettles farther south are already starting to die off, reports Breitburg, and these will, too, once it rains enough to lower the salinity level again, or it gets colder.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Floating Wetlands Project Finds Home In Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Baltimore's Inner Harbor was once ringed by wetlands, but over time they gave way to development until only one was left.

Now there are two.

Volunteers in kayaks, a small boat and a canoe towed a "floating wetland island" from Fells Point — where it took form — to the waters alongside Baltimore's World Trade Center on Sunday. Tourists stopped to gawk and snap photographs as the environmentally friendly flotilla made its slow way along the harbor, the cargo more eye-catching in its greenery than anything else in the crowded waterway.
The Waterfront Partnership, a nonprofit that maintains and promotes the Inner Harbor area, installed the 200-square-foot wetlands as one small part of an ambitious goal to make the polluted harbor swimmable and fishable in 10 years.

"It's going to take all of us rolling in the same direction, but we believe it is possible," said Laurie Schwartz, executive director of the partnership.

It took a lot of people just to create the floating wetlands, which will soak up pollutants, produce the oxygen that's critical for healthy water and provide a place for crabs and other aquatic critters to live.

The Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, a water-quality watchdog group, paid the $50,000 cost from an air-pollution settlement fund. Biohabitats, a Baltimore-based ecological restoration firm, designed the wetlands — 11 separate rectangular structures made of plastic bottles plucked from the harbor, mesh and wood. Then, students with the Living Classrooms Foundation in Fells Point built the structures and planted them with marsh grass and flowers.

For weeks, the manmade wetlands floated beside the one other example left alongside the harbor — Living Classrooms' own marsh. Sunday morning, they headed off by boat and kayak to their permanent destination in tourist-heavy waters.

"Oh, here it comes — here it comes!" cried Schwartz, catching sight of the motorboat towing the first few pieces of wetlands toward the World Trade Center. She waved her arms and grinned, saying later that she felt just like an excited relative seeing a long-awaited baby for the first time. Mary and Jerry Nonnemacher, who live in Reading, Pa. and sailed into Baltimore for the weekend, watched this unusual parade and wondered what it was all about. Katie Bradbury, a 24-year-old from Fells Point, caught sight of the wetlands leaving Living Classrooms and followed them to find out where they were going. And Donna Davis, who works at the World Trade Center, dropped by to take pictures of kayakers pushing the structures into place alongside her building's pylons and roping them together.

Davis, an administrative assistant, knew the goal was better water quality. She hopes it works.

"If it helps, that's fantastic," she said.

Aquatic life is already responding. The underside of the wetlands is a hang-out spot for baby crabs.

But it would take a lot more than a marshy island the size of a bedroom to turn Inner Harbor water — which come from rivers rated "F" by an annual University of Maryland report card — into a safe place to take a dip or catch a fish. So much of the trash and pollutants that damage the water start off far upstream, from oil washed off roads to fertilizers running off suburban lawns.

That's why organizers hope the wetlands act as a conversation starter for passersby, making them think how their ordinary activities hurt or help the harbor.

And the newly installed floating island won't be by itself for long. The National Aquarium, just around the corner, is assembling its own on Wednesday. More might follow.

"It's a very small island in … a fairly big body of water," said Laura Bankey, the aquarium's manager of conservation. "We really only expect to see local changes. But that'll give us an idea, if we scale up this project, what kind of an effect could we have."