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New Riverview leader seeks neighbors' help

Cheryl Bush, new president of the Riverview and Ryerson Circle Community Association, poses for a photo with her two dogs, PJ, left, and Drogo, right, near her home in the Lansdowne community.
Cheryl Bush, new president of the Riverview and Ryerson Circle Community Association, poses for a photo with her two dogs, PJ, left, and Drogo, right, near her home in the Lansdowne community. (Jen Rynda, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Improving Riverview is a family effort for Cheryl Bush, the newest president of the Riverview and Ryerson Community Association.

Bush, 57, is working to get people living in the Lansdowne community interested in improving their neighborhood. She is aided by her children, Leanna Bush, 27, and Matthew, 25.

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"This is always going to be my home no matter what," said Leanna Bush, who serves as secretary of the community association. "I want to see it get better."

The three have already come together to improve an entrance to their community. They recently repainted a "Welcome to Riverview" sign in front of the court where they reside, removed overgrown bushes and planted tulips, Bush said.

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They were surprised by the response of a number of their neighbors, who pitched in and helped.

"When people notice good changes, they want to help out," said Leanna Bush, who works at the nearby Catholic Charities senior community, Kessler Park.

Cheryl Bush, who has lived in her Riverview home for 20 years, assumed the leadership role in July after longtime Riverview resident Ron Whitehead said he was ready to step down.

"I thought stepping down, she might be able to get some younger people interested in joining," Whitehead, 72, said. "I'm really hoping she can."

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"I believe that Ms. Bush will take the reigns from Mr. Whitehead and run with them," said Pete Kriscumas, legislative aide to 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the area. "She will be a great leader for that community and I commend her for taking on that role."

Whitehead said the family was successful in getting people to participate in the organization's annual July neighborhood cleanup.

"It was one of the best ones we've ever had," he said. "Those three went around the community, handed out fliers and talked to people."

Ernie Bailey, president of the neighboring Lansdowne Improvement Association, said the communities have worked together in the past, and he would like them to work together more in the future.

"I always thought it was good for the community leaders from Lansdowne, Riverview and Baltimore Highlands to get together. We're not very large communities, so we're able to accomplish more that way," Bailey said.

Bush agreed, saying she hopes to work with the neighboring communities to increase their chances of getting issues resolved.

"If we're all saying the same thing, then our voices will be heard, because we're saying it the loudest," said Bush, who has been a member of the community association for five years.

But it has been difficult for her and others in the community association to engage their neighbors, she said.

"The community wants things done, but they always want other people to do them," Bush said, adding that she hopes to see at least one representative from each court at the group's monthly meetings.

Bush said she'd like a bicycle motocross (BMX) trail added to an area next to Sandy Hills Skatepark, known by many in Lansdowne as "The Bowl" and a skating rink added for the children in the neighborhood.

Bush and her daughter said they plan to work with public officials and Baltimore County Code Enforcement to see that vacant homes are cleaned up and that homeowners maintain their homes.

Vacant homes within the community have become more than an eyesore, Bush said.

"They're unsafe," Cheryl Bush said, pointing to the backyard of an empty home littered with mattresses, wooden planks and other debris.

Quirk said dealing with vacant homes is something that the county handles on a case-by-case basis.

"I'm looking forward to working with the new president of the Riverview and Ryerson Community Association on this issue," Quirk said. "We will look into the homes that continue to be problems."

Cheryl Bush said she'd like to see an increased police presence in the community as well. "I think they do an awesome job but I think they need to be more visible," she said.

Whitehead, who had served as president of the community association for 12 years, has faith in his successor's ability to improve their neighborhood.

"She's going to be a good president — she's only in her third month," Whitehead said.

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