Towson Manor Village

Miki Federline of Towson Manor Village, left, poses for a picture with her son Dave Federline and his 3-year-old daughter Brenna at Towson Manor Park in Towson on Dec. 20. The family fought for the park 25 years ago after Dave, at the age of ten, was hit by a car coming from the nearest open space. They are hoping to keep the park from becoming the location of a newly proposed fire station. (Staff photo by Brian Krista / December 26, 2012)

Miki Federline arrived at Burke Avenue to see her son David being loaded into an ambulance on a body board.

It was the spring of 1985, and the 10-year-old boy had walked to Towson High School with two cousins visiting from Italy to kick around a soccer ball at what was then the closest open space to their Willow Avenue home. Miki and her husband, John, never let their three children play in the street, but crossing busy Burke Avenue was a necessary evil in getting to a soccer field.

On his way home, a truck clipped David's knee and spun him into the other lane of oncoming traffic, where he hit his head and was knocked out cold. The oncoming driver stopped before doing any worse damage.

The Italian cousins reverted back to their native tongue and couldn't tell anyone where the Federlines lived, so the drivers who stopped to tend to David had to wait until he was conscious to find out where he lived and alert his family.

The first thing David remembers from that afternoon was his mother hovering over him in the ambulance. When he finally came to, he asked his mother whether he could play Little League the next day.

It was getting close to the World Series and David wanted to play. Miki and John wanted a park.

At that point, the push for a park in Towson Manor Village was already under way.

Towson Manor Park sits on property formerly owned by the Stebbins Anderson Co. that was sold to a group including Towson Manor Village resident Fred Walker, according to a history of the park provided by former community association president Ed Kilcullen.

In the ensuing years, residents lobbied their councilman, Doug Riley, and after fighting off numerous other proposals for the land, the county took charge of the property and a ribbon-cutting was held for the park 20 years ago, in the summer of 1992.

Today, area residents are fighting to save Towson Manor Park after Baltimore County announced that the park, located at the corner of Virginia Avenue and East Towsontown Boulevard, was a potential location for a new firehouse. The county is proposing that the decades-old fire station on York Road and Bosley Avenue be knocked down, with the property sold for development.

"I really can't believe that we're fighting for it a second time," Miki Federline said. "We've been here so long, and I guess we'll be the ones that are moving out, but there's all these young families here. They shouldn't have to fight for that again. It's just wrong."

John and Miki Federline's three children are now grown. David currently lives in Loganville, Penn., south of York, but he and his wife still work in the Baltimore area, so they send their daughters, Lexi, 5, and Brenna, 3, to preschool in Towson.

Miki, or "Me-Mom" to her granddaughters, would walk to downtown Towson to pick them up, stopping at the park on sunny days to play or eat lunch.

"Anybody that knows me around the neighborhood either knows me from the dog or the girls, walking my granddaughters," she said. Miki Federline said that once her children left the local school system, she and her husband began to feel disconnected from the community.

At the park, however, she says she meets residents of nearby East Towson, as well as people visiting from the Towson Library, the District Courthouse, and even just folks passing through Towson whose youngsters need to stretch their legs.

As many residents have suggested, the loss of the park would be felt most by the neighborhood's children. Like many Towson neighborhoods in recent years, high turnover has brought many families with young children into Towson Manor Village.

"There's an awful lot of little kids in this neighborhood," Miki said. Before the park existed, she said children played in the streets.

"People don't think about what can happen if there is no place to play because kids will create places to play," John Federline said. "Sometimes, those places aren't safe. One thing about this park, it's fenced in and very safe and it gives them a place to go where you can watch them play at a distance and make sure they're not going to run in the street."

David, now an occupational therapist at Good Samaritan Hospital, was fortunate to escape serious injury after his own jaunt into the street. He and his mother said he would have been diagnosed with a serious concussion had it happened today, but doctors said he could play if he felt up to it in the morning.

David and his father played catch the next morning. Of course, the boy told his parents he felt fine and was allowed to play.

Now, he hopes his daughter continues to have the same opportunity at Towson Manor Park.

"I love that they can come up here with my mom," David said. "They love being outside. There's nowhere else for them to play down here."