By Jordan Nowaskey
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
The Baltimore County Council supported a bill Tuesday that would require the director of Recreation and Parks to consult with the head of Environmental Protection and Sustainability before allowing certain activities in the county parks.
During a legislative session, five council members voted in favor of the bill, which was proposed as a result of an incident that took place at the Oregon Ridge Park in September 2017.
Officials said the Nikki Perlow Foundation, a group that supports young adults battling drugs and alcohol, had been given permission to paint about 50 trees to honor recovering substance abuser. Unknowingly, officials said the group used latex paint, which is bad for the health of trees and their bark because it affects their ability to breathe properly.
The Baltimore County Advisory Commission on Environmental Quality raised concerns, objecting to painting wildlife. The commission then sent a letter to the county council, asking for more consultation before allowing activities at parks around the county.
“It’s a little shaky for me as to how this [paint project] got approved,” said Legislative Chairman Wade Kach. “It’s a problem for the health of the trees so I want to thank the environmental commission for all the work you’ve done on this issue, and what this bill does is sets up a system of checks and balances.”
Kach expressed his concern about the possibility of similar incidents taking place in the future, if this bill was not passed. He explained that a new administration is about to take charge on Dec. 3, and that this incident could be forgotten without guidelines to ensure that certain decisions are confirmed with experts.
Council members went back and forth, arguing both the necessity of legislative action when it comes to these matters and the fear that even miniscule projects will be brought before them due to the bill.
Eventually, members agreed that communication between department heads is essential when it comes to keeping parks and recreations.
“Experts talking to experts is never a bad thing,” said Chairman Tom Quirk.
Council member Cathy Bevins added, “I think that we do need to sometimes ask others of their input before we would do something so permanent.”
The bill is scheduled to take effect on Oct. 15.