In 1921, the Baltimore County Water and Electric Co. deeded an 11-acre lot the southern end of Maple Avenue to the city of Baltimore, according to a release from NeighborSpace, a Baltimore County nonprofit.
Ninety years later, that property may transfer back to the county to be preserved as an undeveloped area, according to the release.
NeighborSpace, which acquires property to prevent it from being developed, announced June 21 it is on the verge of obtaining the site, which would act as an outdoor recreation area.
"It's a phenomenal thing," said NeighborSpace president, John Murphy, who hosted the fundraiser at his home on North Rolling Road, attended by nearly 40 people, where the announcement was made.
"The whole community would benefit by a lake, by trails, by all these things," Murphy said.
According to the release, a pending contract of sale will result in the city transferring the land "as is" back to the county for $1.
The county would transfer the property, at the end of the road off Frederick Road between the intersections of North and South Rolling roads, to the nonprofit organization once the property passes the county's environmental assessment.
"I'm hopeful that Baltimore County will feel very comfortable taking title to it," said Murphy, a Catonsville resident for the past 37 years.
Ellen Kobler, a county spokeswoman, said the environmental assessment would research previous uses of the site and examine it to determine its geography, soil topography, vegetation and what waste has been dumped there.
The assessment will begin, Kobler said, once the county receives permission from the Office of the Comptroller of Baltimore City.
"We don't have reason to think there's a problem," Kobler said.
If the transfer is accepted, the county will offer an easement to NeighborSpace, which currently has nine properties in Baltimore County, that will prevent development on the property.
Discovering the property
The ball started rolling on this process about 10 years ago, after Catonsville resident Joe Gochar had grown tired of watching the dwindling parcels of undeveloped land in Catonsville succumb to bulldozers.
Gochar said that as he pored over state property records, he noticed a parcel on Maple that didn't have a plat number.
The plat number is used to identify a property using tax records.
"It's really a very historically significant piece of land, for the Catonsville area anyway," Gochar said, noting that it was once the site of a saw mill.
Encouraged by some older Catonsville residents, Gochar contacted the city of Baltimore to determine if the city owned the land.
The city responded by letter it did not.
Eventually, however, Gochar learned that the city did indeed have ownership, and it was willing to transfer the property to the county.