County board endorses small parks program

April 19, 2002|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Despite procedural concerns by the Ruppersberger administration, the Baltimore County Planning Board endorsed last night a program that would transform small parcels into parks in older neighborhoods.

Under County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, much of the county's recreation and parks money has gone toward creation of regional parks in outlying areas.

Under the initiative, known as NeighborSpace, the county and community groups would create a trust to buy small parcels in developed neighborhoods, sharing liability and other costs. Community groups or corporations would agree to maintain the parks.

Last month, however, the county law department and the parks department balked at the program. Lawyers said county officials should not be involved in the trust. Recreation and parks leaders said the $300,000 estimated start-up costs would shift department priorities.

News of county opposition disheartened Ernest and Ruth Baisden of Parkville, who proposed the program three years ago after learning of a similar program in Chicago. Without county assistance, Ernie Baisden told planning board members last night, the program would not work.

The county planned to set up the program as a nonprofit organization, one member noted.

The board approved a motion by Elwood A. Sinsky, however, that would require the county to fund initial administrative and start-up costs.

"I think they're going in the right direction," Ernie Baisden said. "I think it was good that the planning board saw the value of providing funding and the need for a county partnership."

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