April 13, 2007

Catonsville: A College Town?

As Printed in the UMBC Retriever

By Jennifer Jones Retriever Weekly Staff Writer
Catonsville is being transformed into a college town and the whole town is involved in this transformation. Craig Witzke of A&A Enterprise is taking a different approach to planning this community project—he’s blogging about it.
An area called Strawberry Fields, right on Catonsville’s main throughway, has been selected and the blue prints have been drawn. Now all that’s needed is a little input and Catonsville residents don’t seem to mind supplying plenty of that. Many Catonsville residents, interested business owners, and conscientious members of neighboring communities are letting themselves be heard by responding to Witske blogs by posting comments of their own.
Catonsville is a suburb of a big city with a sleepy-town feel. Developing it as a college friendly atmosphere would be a benefit for UMBC students. Who feels like driving to downtown Baltimore just to hang out for a few hours; the parking sucks, you get asked for money by people on the street, and well, it’s a 15-minute drive when the drive to Catonsville would be less than five. Catonsville lends itself to some interesting cultural attractions, fun affordable dining, and practical places to shop. It has major potential because it is so close to campus.
The locals believe that there’s potential too. According to their responses, residents aren’t worried about being overrun by college students. In fact, many responses allude to the culture and the arts that students would bring to Catonsville simply by frequenting the businesses. Some even hope that it could be a largely student workforce running the new businesses opened, which could be great for us considering the limited selection of on-campus jobs available.
Witzke says he hopes Catonsville can become, “A town that is safe and welcomes students with open arms.” In fact, he requested a copy of a UMBC events newsletter from me when I contacted him because he says he’d love to tailor events around or in conjunction with our school’s schedule.
The starting point of Catonsville’s redevelopment is an area on Fredrick Road between Newburg Avenue and Melor Avenue. Extra parking, partial demolition, new signs, new plants, trees and even a pavilion show up on the plan. What everyone is waiting to find out is what will actually be housed in this complex.
Bloggers have requested an Irish Pub, BYOB establishments, Starbucks, bookstores, and the very, very frequent request for a Mexican restaurant. According to Witske, a Green Turtle has expressed interest in the location. Another possibility is a Nacho Mama’s; and if anyone besides me has had their crab nachos, they know this would be a great thing.
Starbucks, however, has said that they do not think Catonsville could generate enough customers for them to open a location. That’s okay though because, seriously, the world doesn’t need another Starbucks, though an independent coffee shop would be superb.
The list of potential businesses doesn’t end there. Witske would love to hear from any students that have a business plan. “We are getting a lot of good ideas, but, we need someone that would be interested and willing to open and run a business. I think that the right student or group of students, with a knowledge of UMBC, could open a business that would thrive and be welcomed by all!” Well, that is certainly an invitation. Didn’t UMBC just have a business plan competition?
To read more, keep up with the latest developments, and make your own suggestions check out http://whatsgoingoncatonsville.blogspot.com/.
Jennifer Jones is a Retriever Weekly Staff Writer who thinks Catonsville should stop being so lame. She can be reached for comment at jenni7@umbc.edu.
Copyright: The Retriever Weekly

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