Park Rules

The rules are as follows:

(1) The park is usable dusk to dawn.

(2) Please DO NOT LITTER.

(3) Take all personal items (e.g., chairs, tables, etc.) with you upon leaving the park.

(4) Be respectful of others' use and enjoyment of the park.

(5) Alcoholic beverages prohibited.

(6) Dogs must be leashed.

(7) Owners must clean up behind their dogs.

(8) Unauthorized motor vehicles prohibited.

(9) Open fires, fireworks & firearms prohibited.



History & Design Rationale

The story of Powhatan Park begins in 2007 with the Powhatan Farms Improvement Association (PFIA) asking NeighborSpace to subdivide and purchase a 1.6-acre parcel of land for a park with ... "flowers, and an area that would allow our community to have cookouts and possibly hold our monthly community meetings during the good weather months.” Using $120,000 in open space waiver fees that come to NeighborSpace via a County ordinance, the organization successfully completed the subdivision and purchase in 2009. But, as we shall see, that turned out to be the easy part.

While the site’s location is a plus in that it really acts like the “back porch” of the Powhatan Farms community, the land was in bad shape when NeighborSpace purchased it, full of vines, rocks, uneven and wet surfaces, and household discards. The PFIA worked with NeighborSpace to host several clean up efforts and then sought design advice. Students from Morgan’s Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture worked with the community on a design for the park. In keeping with best practices for park design, the students proposed amenities like the central gathering area and pathway, shown below, that addressed community desires. But they also proposed other things like a rain garden, vegetated swales, and pollinator meadow considered to be best practices for managing stormwater naturally and providing much-needed habitat for pollinators, like birds and insects.

With the County’s help, NeighborSpace acquired $150,000 in State bond funding to begin to implement the students’ design, bidding the project out to two County firms, Natural Concerns and Daft McCune Walker. The site was transformed:

Then came the rains of the summer of 2018. NeighborSpace constructed a rain garden (see above), several vegetated swales, and a dry well to control sheetflow runoff where two roads abut the site. They were completely overwhelmed by the water and the overflow channeled across the site, wiping out the walking trail, shown below, in two places. The contractors were shocked. A hundred-year storm is one thing, but the volume of water coming off the roads onto the site was extreme nearly every time there was a strong thunderstorm, wiping out the gravel pathway in several places, as shown below.

The contractors decided to visit the site during a storm. What they witnessed led to a months-long investigation into the existing drainage infrastructure. When water flowed down Robin Hill Road toward the site, much of it tracked into a storm drain only to fly back out and continue on to the park. Neighboring front yards flooded. The stormwater best management practices on site were consistently overwhelmed. What was going on?

Eric Hadaway from Daft McCune Walker volunteered his time to study the matter. Ultimately, he learned that the challenges with the storm sewers on Norvo and Robin Hill Roads were long-standing. Neighbors had been complaining to the County for years about their yards flooding. The County sent crews to “clean out” the system on a couple of occasions, but the flooding continued unabated.

Eric then decided to research the history of the drainage system. He went back to drawings from the 1950s and, ultimately, concluded that the drainage pipe that should have run under the park to connect the storm sewers at the end of Norvo and Robin Hill Roads to the system on the other side of the park was never installed, as illustrated in the drawing below. This explained why water rushing down Robin Hill Road would hit the storm sewer and immediately fly up and out, flooding the park.

This revelation occurred in May 2018. When NeighborSpace and the PFIA approached the County about the challenge shortly thereafter, we were given little hope of a resolution. But when we approached the team of County Executive Olszewski in fall 2019, the tide turned. Chief Sustainability Officer, Steve Lafferty, studied the matter, convened a meeting with the Department of Public Works and the missing pipe was installed, just a couple of weeks ago. (The photo below shows the work in progress in the spring of 2020, looking into the park from the end of Robin Hill Road.)

In December 2020, NeighborSpace worked with the PFIA on a grant application to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for funding to restore the features damaged by the floodwaters. That request is outstanding.

Taking Care of the Park - A Partnership with NeighborSpace of Baltimore County

NeighborSpace is a nonprofit land trust that seeks to enhance the livability of the older communities inside Baltimore County's Urban Rural Demarcation Line by protecting and improving land with small parks, gardens, trails, and natural areas. Among the benefits of working with NeighborSpace is the fact that its land trust role means that the land is protected for the benefit of the community "in perpetuity," that is, forever! NeighborSpace also purchases liability and conservation defense insurance for the park and provides expertise with respect to the park's design, management, and programming.

In return, NeighborSpace expects its stewardship partners, including the PFIA, to help take care of the park. To that end NeighborSpace has developed this manual explaining how to take care of the park's features and plantings. It also hopes that members of the surrounding community will help to support the organization financially by becoming an annual member of NeighborSpace. For a monthly contribution of $2 or a one-time contribution of $30, donors receive a NeighborSpace Logo T-shirt, shown below. More information is available here or by clicking on the image below.