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overlea neighborhood art sign

President’s Message - Spring 2022

Dear Community Members,

With the coldest winter days upon us, I can’t help but look forward to warmer days ahead. Our first community meeting of the new year will be on Tuesday, March 8th at 7 p.m. As of press time, we will be holding this meeting virtually, but please stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates!

While most of us have been holed up inside, trying to stay warm, your Overlea Community Association has been hard at work. Thanks to requests from Senator Kathy Klausmier, Delegates Carl Jackson, Harry Bhandari, and Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, the Maryland State Highway Administration is investigating concerns about the condition of the sidewalks on Belair Rd. These sidewalks are dangerous and unusable by anyone in a wheelchair. Our current sidewalks are not ADA compliant. The issue here is safety. Our citizens, pedestrians, and businesses deserve safe sidewalks. I will happily share any updates on the progress in our membership news bulletin. This issue isn’t one we can fix overnight, but I believe we are headed in the right direction.

February is Black History Month. We celebrate the diversity and resilience of our black community members and businesses. Overlea is home to Cherry Heights, the first neighborhood in the county marketed to African Americans beginning in 1910. That was uncoincidentally the same year the city enacted a law requiring neighborhoods to be racially segregated. This 24 acre parcel of land was advertised directly to African Americans as affordable housing. What we know about that time period is that neighboring communities were not hospitable to the residents of Cherry Heights. We also know that the reason for so many dead-end roads in that area was to minimize residents’ circulation (source: Neighbor Space Baltimore). The students of Towson University’s BTU program are currently researching the impact and importance of this neighborhood. Neighbor Space Baltimore has built a lovely park at the end of E. Elm Ave. called the Cherry Heights Woodland Garden. While the garden is unfinished, the goal is to draw attention to the history of the neighborhood and the people who lived there. If you are interested in donating to the park’s goals, please go to www.neighborspacebaltimorecounty.org.

Stay tuned for updates on our 2022 Overlea Farmers Market. Opening day will be June 4th, so mark your calendars! A huge thank you to all the community members, sponsors, and performers of our Overlea Tree Lighting in December. We were so thankful to hold this event again, in person. As always, please reach out to me if you are interested in volunteering (even just an hour of your time) with any of our events.

Stay safe, stay warm!

Melissa Davis, OCA President

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