Loch Raven Blvd. beautification proposed Goal is to revitalize stretch south of Beltway

September 26, 1997|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Looking for ways to revitalize their community, residents and business owners have developed a plan to beautify Loch Raven Boulevard from the Baltimore Beltway to the busy commercial intersection at Taylor Avenue.

The proposal for the 1.8 miles of road calls for brick median strips, trees, banners and new signs. The study also suggests unifying the four shopping centers at Loch Raven and Taylor with walkways and a name such as Loch Raven Crossroads.

"I think this is crucial for the rejuvenation of our community, to bring young, vital, stable families into the neighborhood," said Murry Bentley, president of the Towson-Loch Raven Community Council. "We need to make it a lovely place to live."

Bentley, who moved to Loch Raven Village in 1989, said his first impression of the boulevard was of a "huge concrete runway." He likened the strip to "the home stretch of the Indy 500, and it is often used for the same purpose."

The area was once dotted with farms, such as William Hahn's black Angus cattle operation. Frank and Simone Passaro, who moved to their brick townhouse on Loch Raven Boulevard in 1952, recall cows and roosters nearby.

A demand for housing after World War II transformed the rural area into bustling suburbia, as thousands of families moved to the area.

Now, the Passaros are looking forward to the changes proposed for the area's main corridor in the plan presented by the Towson-Loch Raven Community Council and Loch Raven Business Association at a crowded neighborhood meeting this week.

"I thought the presentation was beautiful," said Simone Passaro, 68, who attended Tuesday night's meeting with her husband, who is 74. "I hope we'll be young enough to see all the things done."

In the next few weeks, a cost analysis will be prepared by the Neighborhood Design Center, a nonprofit land-use planning group that has been working with residents and architect George N. Holback of Cho, Wilks & Benn, who donated his design services.

"It's an a la carte type of situation," said Steve Spund, president of the business association and general manager of the Greetings and Readings store on Taylor Avenue. "It could take five to six years, or we could try to do bits and pieces over five years."

He said the community and business organizations hope to present a design and cost package to state and local officials in November at capital budget meetings.

Councilman Douglas B. Riley, a Towson Republican said he is optimistic about the plan, no matter how long it takes.

He told the approximately 100 people at the community meeting that such projects take time. He compared the Loch Raven proposal to the Towson streetscape and roundabout project, which was proposed in 1991 and is under construction.

"It sounds like a long time," Riley said. "But it will really click."

Pub Date: 9/26/97

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