Firehouse For Air Conditioning Deal Burns Some

The deal reportedly would place new station on the current site of a playground near new $300,000 homes but also provide air conditioning to Dumbarton Middle School.

Some Towson community leaders are expressing concern about a plan they say will put a new fire house on an existing park in exchange for a promise of air conditioning at Dumbarton Middle School.

County officials refuse to confirm or deny a plan some residents say they were told involved the sale and redevelopment of the current Towson Fire Station at York and Bosley Roads. A new station would be built on the site of an existing park that sits on Towsontown Boulevard between East Towson and newly built Towson Green. Some money from the sale of the existing fire station could be used to provide air conditioning for Dumbarton Middle School.

"We don't exactly have a surplus of park land in Towson," said Michael Ertel, chairman of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations government relations committee. "It's kind of like [the county] is saying 'We'll give you [air conditioning] if you shut your mouth.'"

The relocation of the Towson Fire Station has been discussed for several years. This spring, the county removed it from the budget for the current year.

Ertel and others said they learned of the proposal to build a new facility on Towsontown Boulevard late Monday.

"It seems like the communities are being ignored or we're the last to know," said Paul Hartman, vice president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations.

Adelaide Bentley, president of the Northeast Towson Improvement Association, which represents the neighborhoods adjacent to the park on Towsontown Boulevard, said she also had just learned about the proposal.

"I can't really say anything about it because I don't know much," Bentley said. "It's hard to talk about something you don't know anything about."

The association has not taken a position on the proposal but Ertel and Hartman said they have questions.

"I don't think anyone disagrees with the idea that the fire station needs to be rebuilt," Hartman said. "I don't think anyone disagrees with the fact that Dumbarton needs air conditioning. I think taking open space that is well-utilized and well-maintained is not a good idea."

Community leaders say they'd like to talk to county officials now.

"I'm just smelling a rat," said Ertel. "There's something going on there."

Ertel said he thinks the plan all along has been to sell the existing fire station to developers.

"We've kind of felt like ever since [County Executive Kevin] Kamenetz took office that someone wanted that property," Ertel said.

Councilman David Marks, a Perry Hall Republican who represents the area, would not discuss the details of the proposal.

"I did give the administration names of people they needed to talk to," Marks said. "I've made it clear that I want the community engaged. That's all I can say right now."

Don Mohler, a spokesman for County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, would neither confirm nor deny the plan or a meeting planned for Tuesday with area school advocates.

"The county executive has been pretty open about the fact that he's tasked his staff to find parcels of county-owned properties that are on valuable pieces of land in commercial corridors and see if there might be a better use for them," said Mohler, adding that part of the plan could include getting those county-owned properties on the tax rolls.

Mohler said the county has nearly completed a study of such properties.

"We hope to have a definitive comment regarding that in the next two weeks," said Mohler.

Paul Romney December 04, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Air conditioning for Dumbarton should be a priority, not a trade-off.
Adam H December 04, 2012 at 12:51 PM
There are other spaces that could be used without destroying park lands for kids. And yes I agree if Dumbarton needs a/c then let them have it without the appearance of making it look like a bribe.
Meg O'Hare December 04, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Baltimore County government, autonomous of the citizens, strikes again!
Ravnet December 04, 2012 at 03:38 PM
What about the Towson Swim Club Location that is now not being built next to the old Jail? This is a perfect location for a fire station and not existing park space... oh wait, that makes too much sense.... sorry for the suggestion.
David Taylor December 04, 2012 at 04:57 PM
So... shuffle around the fire station, build a new one, get rid of a few parks/playgrounds ... then developers can build us a new office building at the corner of York/Bosley? What single part of this would any sane county resident support? Oh wait... we'll get a few dollar for air conditioning at one middle school. Seems legit. :\
David Taylor December 04, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Also ... rumors of this type of deal being under way have been flowing for years. Developers want YOU to pay to move the existing fire station and build a new fire station in that park space between the jail and the school. Once we have done that, they can get their hands on that property on the corner of York road for a new development deal... ...and we know that in Baltimore Country, what developers want, developers usually get. If not this time, then the next time... or the next... or the next.
jsilb December 04, 2012 at 07:57 PM
While I agree that the children should have air conditioning in the school for the few weeks it is hot enough to warrent it, why does that have to come at the price of open greenspace that the children in my community use daily? We value that park and the greenspace. I believe there has to be another way to make this happen instead of taking away such an asset to the community.
David Taylor December 04, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Perhaps that's part of it ... get community leaders to oppose demolishing that beautiful park and get them supporting some other plan (like taking over the Carver school fields, or another community area). Win-Win for the office building backers.
Fire Kevin Kamenetz December 04, 2012 at 08:20 PM
I second jsilb, why should the children have to pay the price of losing the park that they love. I doubt the families that are spending 400k plus to move into these new homes are going to be excited about sirens blaring all day and night. I am sure Buzzuto homes isn't too keen on this idea. Please find another non residential area to build this fire house!!
Laurie TMV December 05, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I agree with David Taylor. TMV has already suffered and continues to suffer from the county yielding to developers. Just take a look at the Buzzuto Homes project being bulit between Burke Avenue, Linden Terrace and Willow Avenue. A massive extensive, noisy, dirty, congested project being build (over the course of many disruptive years) adjacent to the intersection of York Road and Burke Avenue. By 1987, that intersection had long been deemed "a failing intersection" and the community of TMV was again and again reassured that with a "failing intersection" it would illegal for the county to add to population density, and that no further development would be allowed. Yet we have 150 townhouses and an assisted living facility all being built in what was once a mostly quiet and pleasant neighborhood, all in the space previously occupied by approximately 27 homes, many of them large Victorian homes set on large plots of land. ..... Now, we lose our green space ans gain a fire station!?
Old Terp December 06, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Think the elephant in the room is what's planned for the fire station site? Developer grab next to Immaculate Conception and former Catholic High...Nice! .. and BCPS overcrowding bubbling up again.. Meanwhile stone Dulaney Valley Apts are to be razed for more ugly EIFS "luxury" units. Way to think about the neighborhood. Hmm... and the pitch about Dumbarton seems a pretty obvious wedge. "Done deal" really? what smoke filled room was that done in. Those county gov folks should know better: building and fixing schools is where the votes are.
Laurie TMV December 06, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Once again, I agree with Old Terp. Not only is there overdevelopment, but it's done with loads of zoning exceptions and variations, all of which ensure that any development such as the hideous, loomimg, towering, "luxury units" located at Dulaney, Fairmount, and York are completely out of step with prior development, and demonstrate zero consideration to maintaining the nature of existing neighborhoods and adjacent structures. The old stone Dulaney Valley Apartments, at two stories, were built with respect to the nearby rowhomes. The Buzzutto Homes development in TMV is utterly, totally and completely out of step with the scale and density of existing homes in the neighborhood. Variance after variance was granted by the county so that the developer could squeeze in as many units as possible, leaving them looming over existing houses, with set backs far below the legal allowed. It has utterly destroyed both the nature of this neighborhood as well as added additional intrusion to a neighborhood already struggling from being over run by cut through business and university traffic and invasive rentals to university students with their rave parties.
Laurie TMV December 06, 2012 at 04:42 PM
There is an emergency meeting TONIGHT, 12/6/12. Please plan to attend. TMV Residents - There will be an emergency meeting of Towson Manor Village Community Association tomorrow (TONIGHT) night, Thursday, December 6th, at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the proposal for a new fire station to be built on Towson Manor Park land. The meeting will be held at the First Lutheran Church, 40 E. Burke Avenue, in the upper hall (you may enter from the rear of the building). Senator Jim Brochin and the County Executive's Chief of Staff, Don Mohler, will be attending to provide information and answer questions about the proposal.
Bart December 07, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Don Mohler? Hmmmm
Old Terp December 07, 2012 at 02:31 AM
I think "looming" is the correct word for all the new housing you mentioned. As much as Towson gives lip-service to walkability matters, the new buildings just shoot up next to the sidewalks like walls - always going the maximum build-out. I guess the century old idea of requiring a setback is too progressive for our planners. Those mansard things along Fairmount are hideous. Agree too the "out of step" forms, scale and details of these things is appalling. Is it impossible to find a developer and architect who will value what so many people already love about Towson? Someone who'll put their HUGE egos aside and work in context with the buildings in out town.
Old Terp December 07, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Jim Brochin is one of the good ones.
Jan December 08, 2012 at 06:06 PM
The plan for a swim club was tabled some time ago.
Raina December 08, 2012 at 07:12 PM
The new fire station can go in the middle of Towson at the old jail location, where the stupid idea of a swim club was planned! Dumbarton needs AC regardless! Hampton passes around a bucket for elementary school kids to vomit because they overheated:))) It's sick and selfish!! Leave the damn park for the children and keep the Junkies out!!!!!!!
K Blue December 11, 2012 at 08:23 PM
The County should look at the properties on Ware Avenue.
Lily December 14, 2012 at 08:21 PM
If there is greenspace in Towson that residents wish to remain so then the only way that is going to happen is if the homeowners associations purchase the land from the county such that the home owners association owns the land. As long as the county owns land some developer will be trying to get hold of it.
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