By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — They’re referred to as eyesores. Vacant lots have taken over some parts of east and west Baltimore. But new funding awarded to the city could help turn that around.

Rick Ritter with more on some of those properties in line for redevelopment.

The grant is similar to the one that helped turn what used to be a vacant lot in southeast Baltimore into the Canton Crossing Shopping Center.

The mayor says she wants to turn vacant into value. Residents in Baltimore are pleading for something to be done.

They can be overshadowed by murals — an attempt to cover up weeds growing out of the ground and remember what once was — but in reality, vacant lots are hard to miss — a growing problem that’s left the city desperate for funds to rebuild.

“Any vacant or uncared for land in our community is a problem,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded Baltimore a $200,000 brownfields grant to do just that, focusing on lots that pose hazardous threats from old homes with lead paint to old oil refineries.

“It’s sad to see because it’s like west Baltimore is forgotten about,” said Tatiana Thornley.

Thornley reflects on the abandoned lot across the street from her home.

“It looks like a war zone. Like I said, there’s some blocks that are all boarded up,” she said.

In east Baltimore, they’re plagued by the same problems — one vacant property after the other.

“We need to give back to the community,” said Rasshan Pee.

With the city getting the green light, they hope to turn some of those spots into parks, gardens and maybe even rec centers.

“The kids need more rec centers, more funding for basketball courts,” said Pee.

Bright ideas that won’t happen overnight.

“We have to continue to look for ways to make life better for those who have chosen Baltimore as their home,” the mayor said.

Officials plan to meet with the communities to get some ideas on what they can do with the vacant lots.

The Environmental Protections Agency previously awarded the city $2 million in grants.

Rick Ritter