The Parkville community turned out in force Tuesday night in a show of soldiarity that unequivocally stated: we're ready to revitalize our neighborhood.
Over 70 residents, business owners and property owners turned out for a meeting organized by the all-volunteer Parkville Main Street Committee and orchestrated by Baltimore County's Department of Planning.
"This all began with a streetscape," said Main Street Committee member Andrea Messier. "Now that we have nice sidewalks to make it safe and walkable . . . The community is really ready for the second phase of the Parkville revitalization project."
To Messier and the other members of the Main Street Committee, like Greater Parkville Community Council president Ruth Baisden, that second phase means supporting existing local businesses and attracting new ones—enterprises like art galleries, small, niche retail shops and restaurants.
"We organized this meeting to show the county that the people of Parkville, beyond our committee, really care about the community. We need [the county's] help to continue," Messier said.
Baltimore County's Sixth district planner Laurie Hay pointed to a recent joint effort between Baltimore City and County on the revitalization of the Belair Road corridor as a possible model for the revitalization of the Harford Road Main Street.
For the Belair Road corridor study, the city and county teamed up with the Urban Land Institute and stakeholders from that neighborhood to come up with
Led by Hay, the group talked over the strengths (stable community, engaged business & property owners, a strategic location, successful niche small businesses) and weaknesses (need for improved building facades, lack of anchor stores, undesirable businesses moving in, vacancies) of the business district.
They also discussed opportunities for and threats to the revitalization project.
Carol Donovan, owner of , voiced a concern that property owners needed to get involved in the process of reviving the district.
"The landlords have to want to make change as well—mine is just happy to get the rent check. They have to want to be involved as well," Donovan said.
The group also took the opportunity to provide the Planning Department with data by marking large maps, demonstrating where they felt there were threats to, or opportunities for development—although Hay had not brought enough maps for all the attendees, having expected a much smaller turnout.
Hay wasn't the only one to be surprised by the turnout.
Officials representing a number of branches of county and state government attended the meeting: Fifth District Councilman David Marks, representatives from Sixth District Councilwoman Cathy Bevins Office; Larry Simmons, representing County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's office.
"One thing I think the county will definitely take away from this is that we've got a good community here, who really care about the neighborhood," Messier.
What do you think are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Parkville business district? What about opportunities for or threats to revitalization? We want to know what you think! Tell us in the comments.