By Cameron Goodknight
After more than five years of planning and construction, Baltimore County will plant 93 native shade trees this fall to complete the last phase of Radebaugh Park.
“The trees will contribute to the beauty and pleasure experienced by people who use the park. As the trees grow, they will provide shade and cooling breezes,” said Carol Newill, a Green Towson Alliance member who helped lead the group’s efforts on the park.
The park, in Towson’s Aigburth Manor neighborhood, was designed by the alliance to accommodate people of all ages and physical abilities in neighborhoods around Knollwood, Towson Manor Village, Wiltondale, and downtown Towson, said Newill.
Families are already using the park, but a formal ribbon cutting to celebrate its completion will be delayed until spring to plant the additional trees, according to Baltimore County Councilman David Marks.
The trees are being planted as part of the county’s Urban Tree Expansion Program, which is part of the state’s Watershed Implementation Plan, an effort to reach pollution reduction goals for improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.
“The trees will take up and absorb more of the rain from the heavier storms we are experiencing and as the trees grow, they will capture more of the particulate air pollution that we have in our area,” Newill said.
The trees are counted toward credit with the state for cleaning up streams and the Chesapeake Bay, she said.
Marks, a Republican who represents Towson, said he is “very” proud of the park and the process to get the project finished.
“It’s taken about five years to get this park finished,” he said. “Eastern Towson hasn’t added any new parks since the 1990s, so it provides a bit of a green oasis in a very densely populated community.”
Marks has previously stated that working on the project is one of his proudest accomplishments during his council tenure.
The park has been in the works since 2015, when the Radebaugh family, which owned Radebaugh Florist & Greenhouses, sold the land to the county under the condition that it would become a park.
“They preferred to be good neighbors despite having an offer from a developer who wanted to construct 19 townhomes,” said Newill.
Paul Hartman, a longtime Towson community advocate, has praised the family in the past, saying more town houses would have created overcrowding in the area.
County officials announced in June 2015 that they would work to build the park after an environmental study found no problems that would prevent purchase of the property, which was comprised of greenhouses.
In November 2016, the county paid $1.1 million to build a park on the 2.4-acre parcel. The money came from Program Open Space, a state land preservation program funded by real estate transfer taxes.
Construction for the park broke ground in 2018, after the county agreed to fund the demolition of greenhouses and their concrete foundations.
In 2019, the park entered the second phase of construction, which involved grading the land into two tiers, laying down topsoil and grass, and removing industrial materials such as concrete and piping.
Newill, who is a physician with interests in public health and community wellness, said Green Towson Alliance has recruited an engineer, graphic designer, elementary school teacher, accountant, commercial photographer and various architects to help create the park over the years.
“We designed the park, using input from a large community input meeting we held in 2016 at the church on Burke Avenue nearby and the expertise of the members of our GTA work group — then two of us have met many times over the years with county leaders,” she said.
Today, the park property preserves open space in a dense part of Towson while providing residents another option when they’re looking for a place for picnics, walking and leisurely activities, said Marks.
Newill believes the addition of the trees will encourage children and adults to spend more time outdoors at the park, especially during the hot summers.
“We at GTA are delighted that the trees will be planted this fall. We will need volunteers to help keep the new trees properly watered during their first two growing seasons and in future years during droughts,” Newill said.