Baltimore County News
Bob Nozeika Playground at Dunnie Field Honors 40-year Community Volunteer
On Saturday, May 7, the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks hosted a celebration to dedicate the new Bob Nozeika Playground at Dunnie Field, located at Eastwood Park in Dundalk. An enthusiastic group of community and recreation leaders joined in the celebration as well as members of the Nozeika family.
Department of Recreation and Parks Director Barry F. Williams led the brief ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of this $82,000 playground named in honor of the late Bob Nozeika.
Honoring Lifelong Community Volunteer, Bob Nozeika
At the community’s suggestion, the playground was named after Bob Nozeika, a resident of the Eastwood community in Dundalk who was a much beloved volunteer who served in a multitude of roles for the Eastwood Recreation Council, the Berkshire/Eastwood Recreation Council, the Eastwood Elementary School PTA and the Eastwood Resident's & Business Community Association.
“Kids learn and grow through play, and we are delighted to provide this playground to the Eastwood community for families to enjoy,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “This playground is a special place named for a very special person. For four decades, Mr. Bob Nozeika was an energetic, positive life force in this community and he made a lasting difference in the lives of generations of Eastwood residents.”
The playground consists of a KidBuilders play structure with two slides, multiple types of climbers, talk tubes, and a transfer station for accessibility, a swing set and park benches.
Get An Orgnic Free-Range Chicken for You and One to Share
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz helped provide a very special chicken lunch to clients of the County’s Westside Shelter this afternoon. The chicken came from one of the first deliveries of poultry raised at the County’s Maryland Agriculture Center and Farm Park in Cockeysville, through a community-supported agriculture program that provides farming education while helping those in need.
“I congratulate our County staff and partners for coming up with this dual-purpose program that helps teach people the value of farming, and, at the same time, provides much-needed food for hungry people,” said Kamenetz. “This is the kind of smart, innovative thinking that turns problems into solutions.”
A Poultry Partnership
The County departments of Planning and Recreation and Parks partnered with the non-profit organizations, Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC) and Community Assistance Network (CAN) to develop this innovative program that combines social responsibility with agricultural education. Poultry for the People enables anyone to purchase a free-range organic chicken, raised at the 149-acre Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park, and have a second chicken donated to help feed individuals in Baltimore County homeless shelters.
A Chicken for You and One to Share
The non-profit Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC) offers a “buy one-gift one” purchase plan where anyone can purchase a chicken for themselves and one will be donated to a Baltimore County homeless shelter. Purchasers also receive a tax deduction for the majority of the purchase price. Prices and details are available on the MARC website.
Money raised through the sale of the chickens is used to help fund education programs at the farm park as well as at the County’s homeless shelters. The addition of chickens to the farm also serves to enhance existing educational programs and the overall farm experience of visitors to the park.
“It’s a win-win-win-win” says Richard Watson, President of the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC). “We get to expand farming operations, enhance our educational capacity, connect people to agriculture in a meaningful way, and provide homeless shelters with a consistent source of high-quality protein.”
A fundraising campaign sponsored by MARC on the Kickstarter web site raised $8,000 to cover the infrastructure necessary to care for the chickens including a 4-ton feeder bin, bringing water and electricity to the coop, and making the coop as fox-proof as possible.
Program Offers Nutrition Boost for Homeless Shelter Residents
Protein represents the largest component of any shelter’s food budget. For the balance of the menu, shelters rely on donations made by local churches and other charitable organizations, grocery stores, food pantries, restaurants and bakeries. While the shelters strive to provide well-balanced meals, the donation-based food supply makes meal planning difficult. Chefs work with what they have and are often forced to stretch meals by adding bread, rice or noodles.
Baltimore County Homeless Shelter Administrator, Terri Kingeter explains, “I am excited about the potential of this program to significantly enhance the overall quality of food being served at the homeless shelters. The protein provided by the Poultry for the People program will free up each shelter’s food budget which will help management purchase more fresh produce. We also cannot wait to engage our shelter youth, who comprise 27% of the shelter population, in hands-on experiential learning activities at the shelter and at the farm.”
– Community Raised Funds for $1.5 Million Park to be Built by Volunteers
This morning the sun shone brightly on the future home of Angel Park, a community-initiated project to create a storybook-themed $1.5 million all-inclusive playground and amphitheater specifically designed to be the most accessible playground in the area for children with special needs. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz joined an enthusiastic crowd of community supporters and state and County officials in breaking ground to mark the official start of construction of the new park, located next to the Perry Hall Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library.
This unique project was conceived and majority-funded by the community through private donations and fundraising. Kelli and Andy Szczybor were inspired to create Angel Park in memory of their son Ryan, who died as a baby. “When you lose a child, you are just looking for something to help them live on and to help your family to heal,” said Angel Park co-founder Kelli Szczybor. The Szczybor family participated in the construction of Annie’s Playground in Harford County and found that to be a healing experience that they wanted to emulate for the Perry Hall community. “We want to do it right and have worked really hard to include everybody’s ideas and harness the energy of the whole community,” Szczybor said.
It will be the County’s largest all-inclusive playground specifically designed to accommodate children with special needs by eliminating physical and social barriers to inclusion – and, the group believes, the largest in the whole U.S.
“It’s extraordinary for community members to contribute so much time and effort to a project such as this, and the people of Perry Hall should be incredibly proud – they saw a need, came up with a plan and they continue to put in the work to provide this remarkable gift to their community, a gift that will improve the quality of life in Perry Hall for generations to come,” Kamenetz said. “This new park will give all children in the area the opportunity to unplug, connect with nature, grow their imaginations, get fit and experience the benefits to body, mind and spirit that come from playing outdoors.”
"When Baltimore County received this acreage next to the library in 2012, our office created a committee to create a sign for the property,” said District 5 Councilman David Marks. “The idea of Angel Park was born and it is coming to fruition thanks to a partnership between the public sector, private companies and hundreds of dedicated volunteers."
Designed by Kids for Kids
The playground design itself was generated with input from 4,500 pre-K through 5th graders from the Perry Hall area. The Angel Park group talked to all 4,500 “student designers” within a two-day period from nine local schools including: Perry Hall Elementary School, Joppa View Elementary School, Chapel Hill Elementary School, Gunpowder Elementary School, Seven Oaks Elementary School, Kingsville Elementary School, St. Joseph School in Fullerton, Perry Hall Christian, and Perry Hall Children’s Center.
The park will include a wheelchair-accessible “shaky bridge,” a Braille panel, therapeutic swings, 30-foot accessible ziplines, as well as quiet spaces for children with autism and other conditions. The storybook theme includes a fire truck, pirate ship, castle, music stations and a treehouse. Local elements include a seafood store, a Terps turtle, Police station, ice cream shop and more.
Funding for Angel Park
This groundbreaking is the culmination of two years of energetic fundraising by hundreds of volunteers from the Perry Hall Recreation Council. So far there are more than 200 donors at varying levels in the community, including sponsorships from corporations, local restaurants and individuals as well as government grants. To date, the group is still raising funds and needs approximately $200,000 more to construct everything they would like to include in the project.
Baltimore County Government is contributing a $250,000 grant from capital funds and bond bills are pending in the General Assembly for a total of $200,000. State Senator Kathy Klausmeier said, “I was happy to sponsor state grant funding to help make Angel Park a dream come true for kids and families in the Perry Hall area and beyond.”
Some of the major private sponsors include:
- Baltimore County Savings Bank – founding sponsor
- Platinum Sponsors (over $50,000)
- The Cole Foundation – sponsoring the amphitheater
- Rosedale Federal – sponsoring the memorial garden
- Two anonymous community donors – sponsoring the poured rubber surfacing and the picnic pavilion
- Gold Sponsors ($25,000 to $50,000)
- Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
- Wirtz & Daughters – providing all hardscaping and pavers for the site
- Bill’s Seafood
- St. Joseph Fullerton School and Parish
Community Volunteers to Build the Park
The playground construction itself will be done almost entirely by the Perry Hall Recreation Council’s community volunteers on County-owned land leased to the park and to be turned back over to the County for continuing maintenance.
The Angel Park founders are seeking volunteers from the community to do the hands-on construction during a planned ten-day community build period from July 8 through 17. Thousands of volunteers are being sought by the Perry Hall Recreation Council, with information available online at the Angel Park website.
“This a one-of-a-kind experience to work side by side with strangers to help create an amazing community resource for kids with special needs to be able to play with their friends and families,” Szczybor said.
Revised April 6, 2016