At 25 years old, just over two years removed from college, David Kosak finds himself with a front-row seat to Towson's next revitalization. And Kosak wants to bring more of his neighbors along for the ride.
The Fellowship Forest resident aims for a more open, involved group in his second year as president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, the umbrella group of 37 Towson-area neighborhoods.
"I'd like to see us get into some different places. I'd like people to be able to see us around town," he said. "We've got ... representation of the older generation, but we don't have much of the younger generation represented."
Elected at 23, Kosak is the youngest president in the organization's 50-year history. The Rockville native settled in Towson after graduating from in 2009, and now works in on Allegheny Avenue.
Kosak impressed community leaders as a community delegate and during his unsuccessful 2010 run for the state House of Delegates.
"People were just impressed with his energy level and his ideas and thought that those would be a good thing to the Greater Towson Council," said Ed Kilcullen, Kosak's predecessor.
That energy level began to show in his first year, as he asserted the council's force in a and another push against an that community leaders worried would lead to unwanted signage in downtown Towson.
Generally, however, Kosak and County Councilman , both freshmen last year, have built a good rapport as both men "get our feet under ourselves," Kosak said.
In the past, according to community leaders, GTCCA was seen as a group opposed to development and "just sort of complaining about everything, not really helping to solve the problems," said current vice president Paul Hartman.
But under recent leaders like Kilcullen (2007 to 2010) and Mike Ertel (2005 to 2007), the group has opened up lines of communication to be more effective as a community megaphone.
, executive director of the , said relations with the business community have improved as well over the years, benefiting both sides.
The community and chamber work together on crafting neighborhood events (like Feet on the Street) and bigger projects (like Winterfest and the Towsontown Spring Festival).
"The business community is the front door of the neighborhoods and if we don't have a good business community with businesses and shops and things like that, it brings down the value of the residential community," Hafford said.
Currently, the group meets monthly in a room at Pickersgill Retirement Community in West Towson. Every meeting attracts largely the same mix of retirees, parents and local officials.
Kosak, mindful of Towson's diverse population, wants to start holding meetings and other events in downtown Towson restaurants and bars. He wants the organization to have letterhead and business cards. He even dreams of having a physical presence for the GTCCA.
"Like every volunteer organization, you need to make sure you've got new people coming in the door," he said. "I want people to see us; I want people to know who we are."
'You need to get involved'
Kosak inherited the presidency at perhaps the best possible time. Construction projects look to transform Towson's core. Relations with Towson University and have seldom been better, according to Kosak.
In 2012, Kosak said he looks forward to the new construction in the Towson core and working with the developers as that project nears groundbreaking.
He said GTCCA leadership is very happy with Towson University's new president, Maravene Loeschke, and that the group looks forward to working with the Parkville native.
Kosak sees 2012 as the year where the pieces fall into place and Towson turns into a "destination" town, where people go to see a movie at Towson Circle III, eat a high-class dinner at Towson City Center or Towson Tavern and see a Towson Tigers football game at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
"People are going to stay in Towson rather than going to the city or going to The Avenue [at White Marsh] or something like that, I think they're going to come to Towson," he said.
And Kosak said there's much to be said for a town where a student can move from Rockville, be drawn into the fold and become so involved so quickly.
"You can get in and talk with your council members. You can get in and talk to the county executive, you can talk to the president of Towson University. Those people are here in our community and you have access to them," he said. "If you want to see something happen, you need to get involved."
Kosak's political future
During his interview with Patch, Kosak hinted that he is considering a future run for office. Kosak ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates in 2010. Kosak, vice president of the Central Baltimore County Democratic Club, said it's "premature" to discuss when and for what office he might run.
Later this month, Kosak—who said he is still receiving campaign checks—will meet with friends and supporters at his Fellowship Forest home to discuss what comes next.
Redistricting may have taken another House of Delegates run off the table. The new district 42A only has one seat, and fellow Democrat Del. Stephen W. Lafferty, a Stoneleigh resident, is the only 42nd district delegate who lives in district 42A.
"I've been a supporter of Steve since day one, he's been a good friend of mine," Kosak said. "As it stands right now, that's his seat, so I don't ever plan to challenge him for that particular seat."
Kosak said he believes the state political landscape will change greatly in the next several years, as Democrats jockey for the governor's office and other state posts in 2014.
"I truly believe that there's going to be openings in the future," he said. "I'm still young. I just turned 25 on Saturday, so we've got some time, but expect to see me."This article originally misstated Del. Lafferty's neighborhood.