Earlier Planning Scrapped at Towson Y

Earlier Planning Scrapped: Chronology Of Less-Than-Strategic Development Plan at Towson Y

The Y of Central Maryland completed a master-plan for Towson in 1995, then generated a "feasibility study and preliminary design" for phased renovation (rather than elimination) of what would be a 60,000-square-foot facility in 2000. Why wouldn't they have followed through on the advice from over 11 years ago?  I suppose, when it comes to professional design fees, they have money to burn.

According to state records of a grant request in 2006, the Y expected to pay $12.5 million for design, equipping and construction of an expanded (yet smaller) 54,000 s.f. Towson Y. The organization argued hardship because their facilities for children were too small to meet the needs of the community according to State bond facts from that time. The whole facility was then misrepresented as being in dire need.

In truth, the conditions cited were of fitness areas at Towson Y built in the 1960's that had been used hard and allowed to deteriorate for several decades and not the state of the Kelso Home multipurpose building which has been required to meet state standards and inspections since its primary use for the preschool.

Almost 5 years later, an even smaller "45,000-square-foot facility" was proposed because of declines in membership reported by the Y, and the price was represented to be around $15 million.

This number for the "bright, shiny new facility", still with no mention of cost for *green* demolition of all the existing buildings, radical distuption of the site: regrading, stormwater, lighting, landscaping, hardscaping, playgrounds, etc whenever the project is complete.  

Y of Central Maryland blindly announced in January 2008 that they intended to raze all buildings on the site—eliminating any possibility of adaptive re-use or continued use of the historic Kelso Home building by their new design team and LEED strategists.

Great strategy. So what does all that material going into a landfill, being ground into aggregate, or hauled as scrap, have to do with conservation?  Considering the little construction these days, I don't expect a huge demand for recycled brick from the 20's. 

According to the published site plan, it goes like this: tear down a free-standing, brick, stone, slate, concrete, 4-level Towson monument (Kelso building) that's not actually in the way of your new health club so you have room for what was to be more county parking for the park.  Now that the county has , what's the excuse? Clear the decks to carve off something to sell for more Towson condos, senior living, or will it be the medical condo refused at the Catonsville Y?

The current development schedule is uncertain and will doubtless have a much inflated price tag if one only considers the time that's passed. If the the county ultimately purchases the entire site, will taxpayers be asked to share or shoulder the costs associated with *recycling* the historic Kelso building as well as the rest of the existing buildings? Where will value engineering leave the project for the new facility? Another scaleless metal shed, unrelated to the many charming pattern book and late victorian homes that surround it?

And so it goes on. Apart from the private meetings with developers and chatter on their Facebook page, Y of Central Maryland has no public statement about their intentions for funding or schedule for work at the Towson campus except to say "it has a long gestation" (Holman, July 13, 2011).  

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