Herring Run floods during an Aug. 13 storm, submerging the bridge that connects Towson resident Mark Cyzyk's home to Worthington Road. (Courtesy of Mark Cyzyk)
Flood mitigation throughout Towson will take top priority at an upcoming public hearing that will kick off Baltimore County’s capital project budgeting process for the years 2020 through 2025.
Representatives from at least three neighborhoods in eastern Towson and one from West Towson are planning to testify during the Citizens Input Meeting of the Capital Improvement Program hearing slated to take place Thursday, Oct. 18. They will be asking the county to fund projects that would reduce what they say is increased flooding in their neighborhoods in recent years.
In eastern Towson, flooding problems largely stem from overflow of Herring Run.
County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, said aside from constructing a new Towson High School building, stabilizing Herring Run, the stream that runs through Towson, including the campus of Towson High and the three eastern Towson communities, should be the area’s priority capital project.
“The chronic flooding of Herring Run impacts property values and affects public safety by destabilizing bridges,” Marks said.
Marks said he will attend the Citizens Input Meeting which follows the Planning Board hearing to lend his support for Towson project requests. The input meeting will be held at 5 p.m. in Room 104 of the Jefferson Building, at 105 W. Chesapeake Ave. in Towson.
A county website said of the hearing: “Citizens are invited to share their concerns about the County's plan to fund the construction of public facilities such as roads, storm drains, sidewalks, public buildings, parks and stream restoration projects.”
The Citizens Input Meeting is the first step in the capital project budgeting process, according to the county website. The budget plan will then be forwarded to various county agencies, the Planning Board and the County Executive before the County Council reviews and adopts the budget next spring. Fiscal year 2020 begins on July 1, 2019.
Bruce Johnson, president of Overbrook Community Association, said a representative from his neighborhood will attend the hearing to testify about how flooding from Herring Run affects that community.
The stream floods during heavy rain, continually damaging a private bridge and flooding the cul-de-sac at the end of Worthington Road, Johnson said.
In 2016, the county purchased and razed six flood-prone houses in Overbrook to help mitigate chronic flooding in the neighborhood. But community members say that has not solved the problem because the open grass-covered plots left behind fill up with water during storms.
“We’re concerned that if something’s not done to alleviate these flooding problems, there’s the potential that more houses might be in danger of repeated flooding,” Johnson said.
David Riley, president of Knollwood Association, said he, too, will testify in support of stabilizing Herring Run at the hearing.
He said he will ask the county to look at the possibility of creating park space in the six empty plots in Overbrook. And he will ask the county to study the Six Bridge Trail, a proposal Riley is spearheading that would create a pedestrian and bicycle route along the stream connecting nearby neighborhoods with Towson High School and the future Radebaugh Park.
“If we can mitigate the flooding these are all the things that we can do,” Riley said.
Pete Ismay, president of the Idlewylde Association, said he will request the county study flooding on roads including Overbook Road, Arran Road and Limit Avenue. He said he does not know what the best solution would be, but suggested the county look at upgrades to the stormwater system.
West Towson complaints
The West Towson Neighborhood Association’s Vice President, John Weaver, plans on addressing county officials during the hearing about basement flooding reported in West Towson.
Weaver said the county’s director of public works, Steve Walsh, came out with a team of people and looked at the problem in June. The team made recommendations, but told the community that projects have to be approved through the Capital Improvement Program.
He said potential solutions include improving drainage and repaving roads while adding curbs to help guide the water down the street.