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Crews plant trees in the Southland Hills mini-park on Tuesday, May 5.
Crews plant trees in the Southland Hills mini-park on Tuesday, May 5. (Photo by Paul Saweh)

Fifty four trees were planted at a mini-park in Southland Hills on Tuesday May 5, the first of several improvements that are scheduled to be made to the 1-acre, Baltimore County-owned property.

The park, located at Towsontown Boulevard, Alabama Road and Bosley Avenue, across from the Towson University parking garage, is benefiting from a Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. grant of about $10,000 and nearly $9,000 from the Baltimore County government, according to County Councilman David Marks and Southland Hills community leaders.

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Another $10,000 for landscaping has been promised by DMS Development, developer of the planned 101 York Road student housing complex, but Marks said the landscaping money for the park would only come if the housing project, currently in litigation with conditions set by an administrative law judge, is approved.

Marks said his office spent three years working with the Southland Hills Improvement Association on plans to upgrade the park, with the support of the county executive's office. Eventual plans call for adding sidewalks, fencing and a new sign, at a cost of more than $150,000, he said.

"It's a good project," he said. "There's still some work to be done."

"We're thrilled," said Paul Saleh, outgoing president of the Southland Hills Improvement Association, as planting of the arborvitae trees began. "There's definitely a lot left we can do to turn the park into a community asset."

Although the long, narrow park has no playground equipment or other structures, it is a popular green space, used by families, dog-walkers and Towson University students, Saleh said.

The trees are seen by the community as especially important, because they will shield the park from the busy boulevard.

"The primary driver for us was to get a buffer," Saleh said. "The traffic on that road has increased over the years and the cars are going faster and faster. A lot of children play in the park."

Many of the trees were lost when the university built a main entrance on Towsontown Boulevard and BGE moved power lines, said Curt Johnson, vice president and incoming president of the association. "We've been battling to get those back."

"It's been a long time coming," Johnson said of the project, "and we're very excited to take the first step to making our park a nicer place."

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