Towson Manor Village residents showed up in force Thursday evening, Dec. 6, at a meeting with elected officials to express opposition for the proposed Baltimore County plan that would put a new fire station off Towsontown Boulevard at Virginia Avenue, on the site of Towson Manor Park.
The meeting, which featured comments from state Sen. Jim Brochin, Del. Steve Lafferty and 5th District County Councilman David Marks, was held to brief the community on the process so far — and form a plan as a prelude to a meeting between community leaders and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, scheduled for Friday morning.
But Thursday night's 90-minute meeting quickly turned into a series of impassioned pleas from residents of a neighborhood who said they feel like the county has let them down.
State Sen. Jim Brochin told the crowd that the proposal to sell the current Towson firehouse property off York Road — and use the profits to build a new firehouse at Towson Manor Village Park and also fund air condition Dumbarton Middle School — was presented to him and other members of the District 42 delegation as a "done deal" at a meeting last Thursday.
But since then, community leaders and elected officials have indicated the county executive's office has stepped back from that conviction ahead of a meeting scheduled Friday in Towson. That session will be between Kamenetz, Marks and Greater Towson Council of Community Association officials David Kosak, Ed Kilcullen and Paul Hartman.
Even with that news, though, residents still vehemently defended their park, and criticized what they called a lack of communication between the county government and community so far regarding the plan.
Much of the opposition centered on the loss of a community park in a crowded pocket of Towson, but one attendee, Maureen Zingo, stressed the damage done by pitting advocates who want air conditioning at Dumbarton against a pocket of Towson whose children attend the school.
"I'm being put in a very stressful position with the dangling of air conditioning for property," Zingo said.
Though she acknowledged that it might be an unpopular opinion among her fellow school advocates, she said she would rather her children "sweat in school for two weeks out of the year than not be able to sweat at a playground."
Kilcullen, a past president of the Towson Manor Village neighborhood association, called the reaction since news broke Monday "the biggest outpouring of rage and hysteria" he had seen in the 10 years he lived here.
"I think the county executive has gotten that message, and I think they're scrambling to come up with a solution," Kilcullen said.
Marks said the county executive has heard the neighborhood's concerns, and stressed patience in advance of Friday's meetings with community leaders.
"I know it may not be popular, but the county executive is absolutely correct in looking at where it makes sense to put some land on the market," Marks said after the meeting.
"The issues is the location of the fire station," he said, "and I think he knows to look beyond Towson Manor Village."