After more than three years of planning and community advocacy, Baltimore County officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday morning for the Radebaugh Park in Towson’s Aigburth Manor neighborhood.
The 3.76-acre park is named for the fourth-generation of the Radebaugh Florist and Greenhouses family, which sold the land to the county. On Tuesday, a skeleton of the florist’s greenhouses still stood on the property behind a yellow bulldozer.
As more than 50 people gathered on a sweltering morning upward of 90 degrees at the new park’s entrance on Maryland Avenue, speakers called the project a success story, an example of collaboration between government, business and community.
“I think this project is a really good example of what all of us need to do, in government and in the communities, in terms of working together,” County Executive Don Mohler told the crowd. “When you get an idea or concept, if somewhere along the way you have to work through some road blocks, it’s OK to do that. But when you get smart, dedicated, committed people in a room and you roll your sleeves up, literally, and you say ‘let’s solve these problems,’ then good things will happen.”
County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, said that when he initially heard in 2015 that there were plans to sell the land to a developer to build townhouses, he “immediately said ‘uh-oh.’”
Instead, the idea for the park was born in early 2015, when the county was surveying Towson for park space at the same time as the Radebaughs were considering selling the land, Marks said. The Radebaugh family sold the land to the county for $1.1 million in 2016, according to a county press release. Marks said to applause Tuesday that the community will get a “permanent green space.”
Aigburth Manor Vice-president Paul Hartman praised the Radebaugh family for selling the land to the county instead of a developer, saying more townhouses would have overcrowded the area. A park, by contrast, could increase property values for the surrounding communities, he said. And Hartman was glad to see the sale of the land benefit the local Radebaugh business.
“It’s a win for the community, not just having a park, but also strengthening this family-owned business right in the middle of our neighborhood,” Hartman said.
“I think our grandfathers would be very excited to see a park for the community in our name,” said Kaitlin Radebaugh, 37, a co-owner of the family business. “We very much realize that we’re a business operating in a residential area, and we’re happy that we can give something back to the community.”
The total cost of the park, including demolishing the greenhouses, will be $1.76 million, according to a county press release. The “passive park,” which is too small for athletic fields but will have space for people to stroll, is slated for completion in December this year.
"It’s a wonderful expenditure of tax dollars,” Mohler said. “I’ve always believed that when you give people a vision of what you’re trying to accomplish with tax dollars, they’ll rally around it, and they will support it.”
Baltimore County Recreation and Parks Director Barry Williams said the environmental advocacy group, Green Towson Alliance, was instrumental in advocating for and planning the park.
Carol Newill, a Green Towson Alliance member who helped lead the group’s efforts on the park, said in a press release that because of the group’s efforts, “Radebaugh Park will not be bulldozed into a flat area, but instead will be sculpted into curves and will include a bioswale [a landscape element designed to concentrate or remove pollution out of surface runoff water] for rainwater to drain into the western branch of the Herring Run.”
Multiple people also praised the late County Executive Kevin Kamenetz for his work in getting Radebaugh Park off the ground. In his speech, Marks recalled a promise from Kamenetz in 2016 that the county would create a park on the land – and “he kept his word,” he said.
“I said back in May that for the next six or seven months, County Executive Kamenetz would be on my shoulder,” Mohler said. “He is clearly on my shoulder and smiling down today.”
Derek Radebaugh, 46, another member of the family, said he had mixed emotions about the groundbreaking, which marked a change for the land on which he grew up, working in the family greenhouses. Still, he said, it felt good to see the family’s legacy continue.
“Our name’s going to be in this town for a long time,” Radebaugh said.