April 26, 2013 10:59 pm ET
If they only knew the problems they face in Towson and what lies at the end of Rt. 43
I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach after reading a recent article by Nayna Davis from Towson Patch, as well as a subsequent piece in the Sun that discussed the plans for a new Towson University (TU) student housing development in Towson. After seeing what the county has planned, I just knew that “Towson Triangle” is a disaster waiting to happen, and I don’t say that lightly.
I almost want to compare the nightmare that will be Towson Triangle to the other nightmare triangle in Bermuda. Why do I use the term nightmare? Believe me when I say that I am not using that term frivolously to titillate this blog. I am simply standing by the facts of what has happened in the past. As George Santayana said on December 16, 1863, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Permit me to explain my furor over this project.
I can remember working as a police officer in that area during the late 70s and early 80s, and my memories of the problems that arose with Towson University students being housed off campus are quite vivid. Issues of alcohol abuse, disorderly conduct, and excessive noise were a constant police problem, as well as a major concern for the community.
But the “fun” (sarcasm intended) didn’t stop then.
In the early 2000s, a community leader that worked in my office would come to work and describe, in dramatic detail, the conduct that was displayed by some of the TU students that were housed in their neighborhood—an area that was quite some distance from the campus. What was most disturbing was the fact that these students were bused to certain events due to the distance between their living quarters and the university.
However, as the Baltimore Sun points out, this community leader is not the only one complaining about dealing with raucous students. The following quote from the article is foreboding and, to me, indicates a major problem that lies down the road:
At the county’s announcement Tuesday, Kamenetz and DMS officials touted the apartments as housing for students and young adults, a potentially troubling prospect for community leaders.
“Historically the community has been against student housing off campus,” Hartman said. “We’ve tried to get the university to go with more dorms and residence halls on campus, and it is in the master plan for the university to do that, but this is a truly private thing and it really has no link to the university other than they would like to market to their students.
This statement came from the county executive: “101 YORK brings apartments that will be attractive to university students,” Kamenetz said in a statement. “This new investment builds on the significant new residential, retail, entertainment and office development rising in the heart of downtown Towson.”
I worry about what may lie ahead for Towson, and I wonder if this could be what is to come.
Only time will tell if Towson Triangle will be a step in the right direction, but to say that I am less than optimistic would be an understatement.
(By the way, I attempted to get a statement from the councilman, but his office did not respond to my request. Then again, maybe Mr. Marks forgot, as he is prone to do.)
I also worry that this building project will become another road to nowhere (or, as I creatively put it, a road to “know-where”).
For a moment, let’s focus on that project at White Marsh and Route 43—a project that was supposed to be a job creator a long time ago. Exactly how many jobs have been created? None that I am aware of, at least on the east side of Rt. 43. So where is the financial progress? (Answer: NOWHERE.)
I want to point out a quote from a Sun article that makes me more than a little suspicious:
Developers plan to build 1,700 housing units near a mixed-use business park in White Marsh saying it will “supercharge” an area that had previously been targeted for job creation.
Can someone please explain how the building of homes and strip malls will provide the area with living wage jobs? I just can’t figure out that one.
I recognize that there are some major differences between the Route 43 project and Towson Triangle. However, I also noticed that Mr. Kamenetz changed the zoning of Towson Triangle from industrial use to residential development. Simply put, the move demonstrates one of the reasons we are facing huge problems in our area. Our industrial base continues to move away, and it is not being replaced with companies that provide the jobs that pay living wages that allow people to raise families.
I would be interested in looking behind the scenes to see who is pulling the strings on this deal, but I don’t see that happening. After all, allowing the public to be involved in this decision didn’t work out too well in the past (“In 2005, community outrage shot down a proposal to construct a student housing facility at the site of the current Towson Square project,” Nayna reminds us).
I suppose all we can do now is hope for the best … but expect the worst