Radebaugh Park in Towson enters second stage of construction

Grading work at Radebaugh Park in Towson is complete, and construction of park amenities will begin soon, according to an update from the Green Towson Alliance.

The work so far involved removing industrial materials like concrete and piping, as the site was once home to greenhouses used by Radebaugh Florists, grading the land into two tiers, and laying down topsoil and grass, said Dr. Carol Newill, a retired physician and one of the co-founders of GTA.

“There was a lot of industrial material. In fact, the site was almost completely impervious to rain,” Newill said.

Now, the parkland has an upper terrace nearest its entrance on Maryland Avenue in the Aigburth Manor neighborhood and a slope down to a lower terrace in the southeast corner of the park, nearest the area where some greenhouses and planting remains. Some parts of the park only recently have been seeded, so grass has not yet grown over the entire 3.76-acre tract.

The next phase of work is constructing an asphalt walking path that loops around the park, adding benches, installing signage and trash cans, planting trees and putting in other park amenities, Newill said.

The path already has been laid from the sidewalk along Maryland Avenue to the interior of the park, but stops beyond the park’s entrance. The asphalt trail will be 5 feet wide and ADA-compliant, according to a rendering shared by County Councilman David Marks, who represents the Towson area.

“This will be quite an amenity for that part of Towson,” Marks said.

Baltimore County purchased the land from the Radebaugh family in 2016 for $1.1 million. Marks said working on the Radebaugh Park project is one of his proudest accomplishments during his council tenure.

Sean Naron, a spokesman for Baltimore County, said the first phase of construction cost about $734,000 and was funded through Program Open Space — Local, capital grant funding from the state and county funds. The state-run Program Open Space provides funding and technical assistance for local jurisdictions to acquire and preserve land and outdoor recreation areas for public use.

The final budget for the second phase, Naron said, is still being developed, though then-state Del. Stephen Lafferty and Sen. Chris West, R-District 42, worked during the 2019 legislative session to secure a $100,000 state capital grant for the project.

The park currently is just a field of grass and brush, but there are plans for tree plantings. The Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability is planting shade trees in the park as part of the county’s stormwater runoff mitigation programs. A timeline for the county tree plantings was not immediately available.

And Boy Scout Troop 729 is scheduled to plant trees, bushes and flowers along the south side of the park’s entrance later in the fall. Nathan Letocha, 15, is leading the planting as his Eagle Scout project.

“I think we need more green space in our communities and suburban areas,” said Nathan, who lives in Stoneleigh and attends nearby Towson High School.

Nathan, who is trying to raise about $2,000 for the planting project, said he had garnered about $1,075 as of Oct. 9. The Green Towson Alliance has secured a $500 grant from Constellation Energy for plantings, too.

Nathan said part of why he chose to do tree plantings for his project was because it will be long lasting, not something that could be painted over or would need renovation in the near future.

“I feel like trees are something that I could maybe show to my children one day,” he said.

Weather delays

When county officials broke ground on the park in August 2018, it was supposed to be completed by December 2018. The Green Towson Alliance now says, though, that the second phase — the planting of trees and installation of amenities — will likely not be completed until the end of next fall, when shade trees are added.

A number of factors contributed to delays in construction, Newill said. Heavy rain last year slowed grading work, which in turn meant it would take longer until topsoil could be placed and grass planted.

Then, drought conditions this summer hindered the growth of the freshly planted grass, she said.

But, Newill said, people can certainly enter the park now. The plan is to have the asphalt path completed by April and “then it will be really easy for people to get in.” The benches and other amenities will come after the path, she said.

Renderings of the park project show a boardwalk that connects the southwest corner of the property to Aigburth Road. Newill said she would love to see the boardwalk installed, but was not confident that it would be within budget. The boardwalk possibly could be added later, after initial construction, she said.

Joe Radebaugh, who represents the third generation of the family to be working and running the florist shop, said he was “kind of disappointed” that the park hasn’t been constructed faster. Officials moved quickly to demolish the greenhouses and other buildings on the property that the family sold to the county, but then the pace of the work slowed, Radebaugh said.

The 70-year-old said his biggest concern, though, was keeping the neighbors happy by making sure they were comfortable with whatever development occurred on the plot of land.

The entrance to the park off Maryland Avenue is marked by the start of the asphalt walking path that will connect to the rest of the path once constructed, and, at least for now, a large sign bearing the details of the construction project. There is a large, wood-and-metal gate on the north side of the narrow entryway, placed by the county to prevent people from driving into the park while maintaining access for county maintenance vehicles.

Newill called the gate “industrial,” “ungainly,” and “out of place.” She said it did not fit with the park or surrounding neighborhood. Because county maintenance vehicles would park on that side of the entrance path, Newill said she and others have been told they cannot plant trees in that area.

Naron said that Baltimore County Property Management, the department managing the project, “has agreed to address concerns raised and is factoring them into planning and design.”

Despite any shortcomings at this point, Newill said she thinks the park is a great project for the area. It preserves open space in a dense part of Towson and gives people another option when they’re looking for a place to take a walk or play.

“I’m really happy, I think it’s terrific,” Newill said, though she added, “We just have that gate.”

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