Towson Y Tweaking New Design in Response to Concerns

Allegheny Avenue residents are worried about how close the new building will be to their homes.

Rich Wilson walks behind his spacious, well-hidden Allegheny Avenue home and, in seconds, he's in the middle of the woods. Even in the rain, he's back here, with Buddie, his standard poodle. But he's not here for a hike. He's here to prove a point.

Wilson is one of several homeowners on Allegheny Avenue directly behind the site of the planned new . The new facility is supposed to built roughly where the center's tennis courts are now. But Wilson worries that that will be a bit too close for comfort.

Y officials said they plan to change the design before construction begins this summer.

In about 20 paces, Wilson goes from his quiet suburban home, through the woods and out onto the Towson Y parking lot. He stands against the tennis court fence and, using his six-foot frame as a ruler, says the new building will be five times his height.

Then he gets to walking. "One, two, three," he counts. By his measure, the new building will be 100 yards long.

"This is not community-friendly," Wilson says. "This is as aggressive as you can get."

Wilson says that neighbors knew the building was going to be close, but it wasn't until meetings with Y officials in November that they had an idea how close and how big it could be.

Wilson can see the 12-foot tennis court fence beyond the leafless winter trees from his patio. His worry is that the peaceful winter view will be replaced by 30 feet of concrete, and property values will suffer accordingly.

"It's going to be above our roof," he said, also expressing worries about erosion and the other environmental impacts of a large building sitting so close to the hill.

The Towson Y's new building has beenfor several years. Last year, plans fell through for Baltimore County to the Y's property to help finance the new facility.

John Hoey, president of the Y of Central Maryland, said that architects are "tweaking" the design in response to concerns like those Wilson has.

"We've taken into account any concern that we felt was founded," Hoey said. "There is quite a setback between what will be the edge of the building and the woods."

Hoey added that quality stormwater plans would be in place to help preserve features, such as Wilson's trail. Construction on the new facility is set to begin in September. Hoey indicated plans could soon be submitted for county approval.

"There's still a little more work to do," Hoey said. "I really feel confident that people are going to feel happy with the final design."

Wilson, however, is withholding judgement.

"I want to hear what the tweaks are," he said.

Bill March 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Rich Wilson's concerns are shared by neighbors who share a backyard with the Y. Other Towson residents who enjoy the trail and greenspace between the Y and Allegheny Avenue should also take a serious look at what's going on. This project, as it's presented, does meet a minimum setback on the north side of the Y property. The building is pushed as far as it is legally permitted to the north. Given the height of the building and the steepness of that ravine, a good portion of the trail and woods will be darker and wetter. Besides the additional traffic, noise, light, and trash the new larger facility will bring the scale of this building is out of sync relative to the neighborhood. Its proposed placement was influenced to a significant degree by the Baltimore County's interest in recreation fields. Now that the county is no longer a partner in the project this consideration is moot. It's hard to believe that given a blank sheet a paper today that the proposed site would be considered. This building is a huge investment for the Y and the community. It will be around for a very long time. It's in everyone's interest to have it done right. As it stands now the proposed site will clearly have a negative impact on the Y's immediate neighbors in West Towson.


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