Helping hands gather to plant trees in Burkleigh Square's 'backyard'

They got down and dirty in Burkleigh Square this past weekend.

Bolstered by coffee and bagels and the smell of fresh mulch, neighborhood residents worked shovel to shovel on Nov. 5 with representatives of The Shelter Group, Maxalea Nurseries, the Bozzuto Group and Baltimore County Council member David Marks.

As a result, Burkleigh Square's community park now features 17 new trees and bushes, and there are four trees to complement the neighborhood's signature stone arches at its entrance from Burke Avenue.

"We are absolutely pleased," said Burkleigh Square Community Association president G.T. Keplinger, who ended the day with more than his share of mud under his finger nails.

The association, which owns and maintains the park, represents the 100 or so townhouses built more than 60 years ago on small lots there.

Keplinger's mother, Helen Keplinger, who chairs the association's preservation committee, said the park is nearly an acre in size. It features benches, swings, jungle gyms, a community garden, a volleyball green and basketball court and a serpentine asphalt path that links them.

It is the backyard for the children, adults and dogs of the neighborhood — whether they live on York, Burkshire or Burkleigh roads or Burke Avenue, she said. "It is a wonderful place."

The seeds for the tree project were planted in Marks' office earlier this year, when the councilman helped broker a deal between Burkleigh Square, which is on the south side of Burke Avenue, and the developers working on the 10-acre tract across the street on the north side of that street.

Greenbelt-based Bozzuto is building Towson Green, a neighborhood of 121 four-bedroom townhouses with its main entrance on Towsontown Boulevard. The Shelter Group is building Brightview Towson, a 90-bed, assisted-living facility fronting on Burke Avenue.

"Burkleigh Square residents had complained about the loss of their mature trees when the new curbs and gutters were installed," Marks said. "I wanted to secure some funds to possibly replace the trees and beautify the community."

The Shelter Group and Bozzuto each donated $2,000 to the Burkleigh Square association for the planting.

That enabled the committee to order about $700 worth of trees and other bushes from Clear Ridge Nursery in Carroll County and have them delivered for planting. The donation also will enable the association to perform needed repairs on fencing for the park.

On Saturday, Helen Keplinger publicly thanked Marks, Shelter and Bozzuto — as well as the individuals who helped plant the fir, evergreen, sycamore, black gum and oak leaf hydrangea trees. She also thanked Brightview executive director Deanna Distasio, who brought the coffee and bagels.

Maxalea consultant Chad Tipton supervised the planting pro bono and provided the expertise. The company also provided the mulch, stakes and fertilizer.

"And a bunch of neighbors spent the better part of a day to make it happen," Keplinger said. "The trees are wonderful. They will do a lot to make out neighborhood look nicer."

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