Community comment is going to be an important part of the process when it comes to any developments proposed for The Triangle — that area of Towson bordered by Towsontown Boulevard, Burke Avenue and York Road — according to 5th Disrict County Council member David Marks.
Calling it "one of the most visible and important areas in downtown Towson," Marks announced July 14 that he has appointed a 10-member committee to review any Triangle development proposals.
No development plans have been submitted yet, said Marks, who represents Towson on the council, but the committee will be set up to respond once any plans are proposed.
Marks envisions the committee working with a developer through the entire process, just as community representatives worked with Bozzuto and Shelter Group, the developers of Towson Green and Brightview for several years, and worked out compromises about size, number of units, building materials and traffic patterns.
"Everyone you talk to agrees that Towson Green was a model of collaboration," he said.
Ripe for redevelopment, The Triangle occupies a key area between Towson University and the downtown core, he said.
"As developments are proposed, we need strong input from residential neighbors and those entities that already exist in The Triangle," he said. Among those entities are a Starbucks, the Towson University Marriott Conference Hotel and Towson American Legion Post 22.
The group will be chaired by Josh Glikin, vice president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations and former president of the West Towson Neighborhood Association. Other members include:
• Charlie Culbertson, Southland Hills resident and former president of United Seniors of Maryland;
• David Kosak, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations;
• Mike Ertel, West Towson resident and former GTCCA president;
• Dave Hinshaw, former Towson Chamber of Commerce president and manager of the Marriott;
• G.T. Keplinger, president, Burkleigh Square Community Association;
• Therese McAllister, president, Southland Hills Improvement Association;
• Nicole Nesbitt, former president, Southland Hills Improvement Association;
• Stephanie Keene, West Towson Neighborhood Association president.
• Paul Moran, adjutant, Towson American Legion Post 22.
Culbertson said he sees great possibilties in such a group.
"If you have the right people concerned about the community but also aware of the need for businesses, it could work out very well," he said. "They will have to know how to compromise."
Reviving a vision
The Legion property owns 5.5 acres of the Triangle and, as late as last November, the post commander said the post has no plan to move despite lucrative offers, including one from Towson University.
That position hasn't changed, said Post 22 chaplain and former commander Linda Bishop. In fact, the post hall is booked every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the rest of the year, according to the post rental office, and for all Fridays and Saturdays through 2012.
The Towson Urban Design Assistance Team, in 2007, recommended converting much of the land in the Triangle to "an important park and recreation facility" punctuated by pedestrian pathways.
TU would like to see it developed in a way connecting the campus to the community — and the community to the campus.
But if the Legion doesn't sell, any vision for the Triangle may have to take into consideration the presence of the post hall, its 200-space parking lot and ball fields. They generate revenue that enables the post to contribute thousands of dollars each year to veterans' programs and charities.
The county doesn't have the power to exercise eminent domain to take the Legion property, said former 5th District Councilman Vince Gardina last November, though TU might.
"But I would never support condemnation to acquire the land," Marks said. "Over a decade ago, 70 percent of the voters said they wouldn't support condemnation for economic purposes. I respect their wishes."
"The Legion has every right to be there," Marks said.