Arbutus Patch Answers: A Path of Resistance
Arbutus residents plan an act of tidy disobedience.
A situation was recently brought to the attention of Arbutus Patch by Nikki Marlatt-Young, president of the Arbutus Improvement Association.
It seems that a foot path on the 1200-block of Sulphur Spring Road had become an issue of contention between residents and one homeowner who lives on an adjacent property.
The path runs aboiut 50-60 feet along a a branch of Herbert Run. For generations, according to many sources, the 50-foot path has been used to reach the Arbutus Middle School athletic field.
Mike McAuliffe, president of Halethorpe Improvement Association, says that years ago the county used to pave the path with crushed gravel and maintain the area.
Today is a different story.
For a couple of years, Gino Restivo, who lives next door to the path, has made a project out of making it difficult for people to use the shortcut.
Restivo installed a fence along the Sulphur Spring Road side of his property that extends several feet beyond his property onto county land, partially blocking the gap leadng to the path.
The remainder of the gap was obstructed with a web of elaborately knotted cable and wire. On the other side of the obstacle, Restivo threw a pile of branches and yard waste several feet high.
Arbutus Patch asked Restivo whether it was fair to make people walk all the way around to Shelbourne or down to Arbutus Elementary School rather than using the shortcut next to his property.
"Let 'em fuss," Restivo said. "They leave trash all over the place and destroy our property."
Marlatt-Young said she has been working with state and county officials for several months in an attempt to restore public access to property that belongs to Baltimore County.
After Arbutus Patch inquired, a county code enforcement officer visited the area on Sept. 13 and issued Restivo an order to remove the fence and cable obstructions within five days or face a $500 fine.
The fence and cable were gone within hours. Still remaining is a large pile of branches and other debris.
One might think that picking up a pile of debris is a straightforward matter, and when it comes to government bureaucracy one would be wrong.
While the storm drain is county property, Sulphur Spring Road and the bridge over it is state property. The overgrown foliage next to the storm drain is protected land under the purview of the state Department of the Environment, except for the far end of the path on School property, which is under the jurisdiction of the county Department of Parks and Recreation.
So who will clean up the mess? "Nobody wants to take responsibility for it," said Marlatt-Young.
Pete Kriscumas, community liaison for councilman Tom Quirk, has been working the levers of public works in order to get the debris removed. As of mid-day Friday, the debris is still there.
Marlatt-Young is organizing a clean-up for Saturday morning. "The community is done playing games," she said. "We'll do it ourselve."
Going forward, Quirk's office has negotiated a peace accord between Restivo and residents who want to use the path.
"The homeowner says that people congregate back there and leave trash," Kriscumas said. "We don't want that, and we don't want trash getting into the water."
Arbutus Improvement Association has stepped up to voluntarily patrol the area regularly to remove trash. Restivo will be rid of the nuisance, and residents get their public access back.