Rodgers Forge vs. TU is Towson's other 'boom town' issue [Editorial]

The limits of growth has been a constant theme in Towson news over recent years, mostly focusing on major redevelopment downtown. Meanwhile, the same issue is also a sore spot a little farther south — around Towson University. The discomfort over "boom town" expansion felt by residents near Towson's core is shared by residents of Rodgers Forge, which borders TU.

The current flash point has been discussion over a proposed $2 million in improvements to a softball field. TU officials say the upgrade is necessary for the university to meet equal facilities requirements under Title IX.

Worrisome to Rodgers Forge residents is part of the design that includes an electrical conduit, which they fear could mean the installation of lights in the future — a hot button issue in the suburban enclave. TU officials have pooh-poohed these fears, saying there is no money currently available for lights and, in any case, it is not a priority.

"It is not for us a likely possibility in the near future," said university President Maravene Loeschke.

This is not exactly reassuring if, in fact, the university intends never to install lights.

We think a "memorandum of understanding" may be in order here. If TU intends a no-lights policy, let it put that intent in writing. If the university intends to leave open the option of installing stadium lighting in the future, it should say so as well.

We empathize with both sides. The university is within its rights to build and improve and, in fact, has a mandate to do so as a state institution. Rodgers Forge residents, meanwhile, may feel like David facing Goliath in their efforts to preserve their property values and their evenings lit by porch lamps, not towering spotlights.

Towson University is integral to Towson itself. The university enjoys its setting in a prosperous part of Baltimore County suburbia and should be sensitive to its surroundings and the people who live there. On the other hand, the community, which receives broad benefits from the presence of TU, would be naive to expect this institution to remain a static part of their neighborhood.

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