Task force tackles building a greenway trail in Towson

A task force established by Baltimore County Councilman David Marks to recommend improvements to the Herring Run watershed will present its findings at a meeting Monday.

The Six Bridge Trail project task force seeks to connect neighborhood parks in Towson through an environmentally responsible trail, as well as improvements to prevent erosion to the Herring Run watershed and public and private funding to reach these goals, according to recommendations released last week ahead of the meeting.

Herring Run is a roughly 11-mile tributary of the Back River that begins in Baltimore County and winds through Towson before opening up into Baltimore City and ending at the Back River.

The trail system recommended by the task force would connect Radebaugh Neighborhood Park, which is proposed for the former Radebaugh Florist property in Aigburth Manor, to county-owned land at Stevenson Lane, near Knollwood and Overbrook.

Five bridges and a road currently connect the land along property owned by Baltimore County, the Wiltondale Improvement Association and one private homeowner, who has agreed to an easement on his property if a bridge he is responsible for is repaired. Existing paths along the proposed trail are a mix of footpaths, gravel and asphalt.

“The first priority is to stabilize and improve the Herring Run watershed, which has eroded and deteriorated over many years,” said Marks, a Republican who represents Towson.

The costs to establish the trail and mitigate flooding in Overbrook hasn’t been established.

Thoughts of developing a greenway along the Herring Run watershed have been swirling for years, according to Knollwood-Donnybrook Improvement Association president and task force chairman David Riley, but a recently acquired county-owned plot has uncovered a new path to getting the trail in Towson.

In 2016, Baltimore County purchased and demolished six flood-prone homes near Worthington Road and Stevenson Lane in Overbrook due to continued flooding from a tributary of Herring Run.

The task force’s main idea is to use the recently acquired and vacant land in Overbrook as a terminus to the trail. Though empty, the grass has been mowed and the property is in good shape for now, Riley said.

“If it stays like this and doesn’t get maintained we’re going to have a mini fridge and a mattress here in no time,” Riley said of the plot. “The only thing that’s for sure is that it can’t stay like this,” Riley said.

The stream runs through Overbrook in two directions and converges at a narrow culvert, or tunnel, under Stevenson Lane at the Country Club of Maryland.Until the homes were razed, flash flooding caused by heavy rains would overwhelm the culvert and the surrounding homes.

The task force endorses the development of a neighborhood park on the land, but is first seeking grant funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to study how to restore the stream and prevent future flooding.

The Annapolis-based nonprofit offers grants to promote the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay region, according to its website. An official confirmed its grant funding could potentially be used for parts of the Six Bridge Trail task force’s project.

Among its other findings, the task force recommends using a porous trail; initiating funding in the capital budget for design and improvements; allocating funding to replace deteriorating bridges along the Western Branch, closest to Towson High School; and creating a Friends of the Six Bridge Trail volunteer group to maintain the trail.

The project already has the support of the community associations representing Knollwood, Towson Manor Village, Wiltondale and Idlewylde. The Overbrook Community Association has issued its support for a study to mitigate its flooding, Riley said.

“My hope is to get this started in the next couple of years, but it takes time” Riley said. “I want to be able to walk the greenway in five years.”

The community input meeting to discuss the task force’s recommendations is at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 25 at the First Lutheran Church, 40 Burke Ave., in Towson.

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