Valley trail to honor slain jogger Runner Terry Burk was hit by vehicle and killed during jog

Family establishes fund

Cash, labor donations welcome to help create Westminster park

November 25, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Westminster officials are moving ahead with plans for the Wakefield Valley Community Trail -- an 8-foot-wide blacktop path winding through meadows and marsh, woods and stream -- dedicated to the memory of Terence Burk.

Burk, who owned the Treat Shop candy store and was an avid runner, was struck by a car and killed while jogging last year. Family, friends and local businesses are soliciting money and labor to create the hiking and biking trail through Westminster's newest park.

The first step, said planner Katrina Tucker, is to start clearing brush to survey the first section of the park.

"Terry was a jogger and he had been a jogger since the '60s -- before it was popular," said Connie Burk Davis, his former wife. "He ran every day: The weather didn't matter.

"We had been reading in the paper just prior to the accident about the plans for the park and the community trail," Davis said. "And when the accident happened, the thought came that this would be an appropriate memorial."

Davis contacted the city, and officials said they would welcome donations.

The memorial fund was established by his son, Robert M. Burk, 26, a local accountant; daughter, Kelly Burk, 23, a graduate student at a seminary in Indiana; and Davis, a local attorney and family mediator.

"It just seemed so appropriate," said Rob Burk. "After the accident, we were looking for something for a memorial, and it just hit all three of us that this would be perfect -- and it would be for the good of the city, the outdoors and running, which he


More than 120 individuals and organizations have contributed to the Terence Burk Memorial Fund, said Audrey J. Cimino, executive director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County and a vice president of Carroll County Bank and Trust Co. The nonprofit foundation handles several funds and awards grants such as scholarships, food for the needy and funding for the arts.

Burk was 48 when he was killed Aug. 10, 1995, while jogging on the shoulder of Route 97 at Kalten Road by a motorist who apparently had fallen asleep.

His parents founded the Treat Shop on Main Street in Westminster in 1951, and Burk took over in the late 1960s.

He moved the business to Cranberry Mall in 1987, and it was sold after his death to a friend of the family.

"It seems everybody knew him, so it's like reading your own death notice in the paper -- especially for runners," Cimino said. The memorial fund is "a way of making that terrible tragedy make some sense." The Westminster Roadrunners, of which Burk was a member, sponsored a fund-raising run last spring.

The city will begin work in the middle of three sections of the three-mile trail, because it already owns the open space along New Windsor Road (Route 31) between Long Valley Drive and Windsor Drive. The park's midpoint is roughly at Tahoma Farm Road.

"We're looking for volunteers, but it will have to be a very organized, small undertaking," said Tucker, who has been working on the park project since 1994. The 24-acre property was deeded to the city in 1987 by the developer of Avondale Run.

"We'd like to do land clearing this winter to actually shoot some topography, so we can get to final design, and maybe start grading in the spring," she said. "We don't know just where it will go yet. We have to get in there to see what's there."

The trail is to be accessible to the disabled, so the slope can't be too steep, she said. Switchbacks will be used to prevent erosion, and two boardwalks will cross Copps Branch and a tributary.

"We don't want to take down trees that we later might want to save," she said, but the volunteers will have to hack and haul away a thick undergrowth of multiflora rose.

The cost to the city for the middle section of the trail will be $300,000 or more, Tucker said.

The foundation has solicited local businesses for help and has developed a wish list, said Cimino, in hopes that contractors who are idle at this time of year or businesses looking for year-end tax deductions might consider this project. Items on the list range from heavy stone and equipment to wildflower seeds.

One of the first companies to volunteer was Lehigh Portland Cement Co. in Union Bridge.

Plant Manager David H. Roush was running with Burk -- as they had done almost every day for 14 years -- the day he was killed and had just said goodbye and turned back home when the accident occurred. "It was the most horrible thing that ever happened to me in my life," he said. "So I have a high degree of interest in the trail.

"We would probably be willing to help out with such a community project anyway," Roush said. "I told the group we would certainly contribute in whatever way we could in terms of materials, or in contacting other businesses."

The other two sections of the park will be developed later, Tucker said. Phase One, behind Ridgeview Chase apartments, will require easements for the land, she said, and a developer is to build the third stretch.

The park will adjoin several existing recreational facilities, she said. Features such as an observation deck at its 648-foot-high crest could be added later.

It should be a safe place for joggers: Nothing motorized beyond a wheelchair will be allowed on the trail.

"I went out there with some friends last Saturday and walked the thing," said Rob Burk, "and it's really beautiful. We're excited and ready to get involved."

Pub Date: 11/25/96

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