In a way, the Baisdens of Parkville are modern-day pioneers in their 120-year-old neighborhood. They're trying to protect a tiny piece of their suburban frontier from commercial encroachment.
To them, their goal seems simple -- turn a small, 60-foot-wide, L-shaped strip off Taylor and Oak avenues into county-owned open space. They've even garnered the support of several elected officials.
The county, however, isn't interested in taking over the property. It would like to see the half-acre plot remain in the hands of the owner, the Poor Boy's garden center, because the land is protected from development by a covenant that went into effect with a zoning change in October.
But the Baisdens and other members of the Parkville Park Community Association want more than protective guarantees. They would like a landscaped garden area to complement the nearby original Parkville Park in the center of the 2800 block of Taylor Ave. between Harford and Old Harford roads.
That park, which is on the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission's preliminary list to become a landmark, dates to 1874 when the town was founded.
"I like the park area. It's one of the reasons I bought here," said Ruth Baisden, who has lived in the neighborhood with her husband, Ernest, and three children for 10 years. "I always feared commercialization would come around the park."
The fate of 1.17 acres owned by Poor Boy's -- including the half-acre portion -- divided neighborhood organizations during the county's four-year comprehensive rezoning process last fall. The garden center is on property adjacent to its parcel.
As a compromise, Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, a Democrat who represents the area, backed a zoning change from residential to business for the parcel, with the half-acre set aside in a covenant as a protected area.
"I thought by establishing a permanent easement it would buffer the residents," he said.
Terry Gerahty, owner of Poor Boy's, has agreed to maintain the strip.
"The easement will satisfy that it won't be developed," Gerahty said. "I don't understand what the fear is."
But neighbors say they are worried that they won't be able to use the property if it remains in Gerahty's control and that it won't be landscaped to enhance the community.
Bartenfelder said he agrees with the community association's plans for a park.
"There is limited opportunity like this for available green space in Parkville," said Ernest Baisden, the Parkville Park association's president. "We see this as helping the county to meet its goals for more open space and parks."
But a meeting with County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger was canceled last week. The community is waiting for another time to be scheduled.
"They want to make a pitch for the county to take possession of the park if that is an option," said Robert J. Barrett, special assistant to Ruppersberger. "We're feeling strongly it is not. We don't want the site of a commercial developer."
To bolster their proposal, the 65-member community association also has offered to care for the half-acre plot that borders the Baisdens' home on Oak Avenue.
"We're willing to work with the county hand and glove," said Joe Kreis, a 46-year Parkville resident and vice president of the community group. "Nothing is better than to look out and see green in front of your house."
Pub Date: 4/01/97