Patros tapped for DRC honor
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 13:23

Dave and Brenda Patro will be honored by the DRC on March 23.

Couple credited with cleanups, youth program 

by Ben Boehl

Some people would say that Dave and Brenda Patro kept the North Point Village community from going downhill. Others would say that the community already went downhill and the Patros did everything they could to bring the community back.
    Either way the Dundalk Renaissance Corp. thought their story was remarkable enough to tap the Patros as Dundalk Renaissance Milestone Award honorees.
    Dave has been president of the North Point Village Civic Association (NPVCA) for the past seven years, and his wife Brenda has been treasurer for the last eight years. The couple has been married for 33 years.
    “Without Brenda, I couldn’t do all of this. I’m the mouthpiece, but Brenda is the business agent,” Dave said explaining that Brenda had a background in accounting and did not need a lawyer to help NPCVA achieve its status as 501(c) 3 tax-exempt non-profit organization.
    “We don’t have any money with the exception of our monthly dues, so we needed it for grants,” Brenda said.
    The biggest improvment, according to the Patros, has been the decrease in criminal activity in North Point Village.
    They recall how the community was filled with drug houses and declining property values, and they proudly note that crime is now on the decline.
    “The biggest problem is that people were afraid to speak up. I was able to build their trust,” Dave said. “I told them to pass the information to me and I’ll pass it to the police.”
    As in many other neighborhoods in Dundalk, rats also have been a problem in North Point Village, but Patro has taken a proactive approach.
    First, he contacted former Colgate Improvement Association president David Hyland, a former professional exterminator, who told the Patros how he conducted his eradication sweep in Colgate by explaining where to buy eradication products at a discounted rate, as well as  how he distributed them in his community.
    The Patros also organized a dumpster day in which North Point Village residents could get rid of unwanted trash at no charge. After that, Dave told the community that Baltimore County Code Enforcement would go around issuing citations to residences that have violations.
    Dave admitted he got some negative feedback from residents who were fined, but he said it was done to help keep the rats away.
    “I got a lot of rotten phone calls but I told them ‘I’m not playing.’ With all the people not caring, the rats will come.”  Dave explained.
    Brenda said Dave was very patient and gave the community plenty of time to clean up trash.
    “He was very relaxed the first few years. He gave them many chances,” Brenda noted. “He gave them more of a chance than I would have.”
     Another concern among North Point Village residents was that too many children in the community had little to do and needed a place to go.
    Juanita Bayer, a member of NPVCA Board of Directors, said there was a time when young people would stand on street corners in North Point Village, causing problems for people trying to pass. She credits the Patros for the improvement and helping keep local youths out of trouble.
    “We had gang activity as well. Most of that is gone at this point,” Baker said. “I can say that we no longer have drug dealers sitting in chairs on the corner selling in the middle of the afternoon.”
    Dave said Brenda is the one who should get credit for starting a free youth drop-in center for children aged 2 to 17.             “The Youth Drop In program was all Brenda’s idea. I only helped her with getting the space in which to have it,” Dave said about his wife.
    “However, it wouldn’t be possible today without both of us and our volunteers who are there week in and week out.”         Brenda Patro said the program started off with about 25 kids, and now over 200 are registered for activities. They are entertained with arts and crafts and sport activities on Friday nights.   
    The NPVCA also has the kids volunteer during dumpster days and at a mulching event in the community. The child with the most service hours received a check of $50 last year. Some of those service hours include shoveling snow and cutting the grass for the elderly.
    “Our ultimate goal is to join the generations together by getting the youth to help out the seniors. They are starting to look at them as a grandparent-type figure,” Brenda said.
    The Patros work has been marked by that sort of proactive approach.
    For example, after the old North Point Drive-In property was available, Dave sought out Craftsmen Development LLC and its president Dennis Gilligan at a Wells-McComas community meeting about development of 108 housing units at the site.
    Dave’s philosophy was to seek out a positive endeavor for the community instead of waiting to see what falls into place.
    None of the houses will be rentals and the building of the first set of houses is set to begin in the fall.
    “We need to make this a bigger and better community. I look at it this way: with younger families coming into the Village, the county won’t be able to come in and take my (Battle Grove Elementary) school,” Dave explained, “This will help pride in the community and motivate others to keep their yards clean.”
    The Patros say they hope to continue doing things that people say can’t be done, such as cleaning up the community and getting a developer to build in their community.
    “If  we are told ‘no,’ we are the kind of people that will prove you wrong,” Dave said.
    The NPVCA and the Patros still have more goals. One of them is getting Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamentez to meet with community leaders in the Dundalk area.
    But for now, the Patros are looking forward to the DRC Milestone Awards Dinner on Saturday, March 23.
    “It was surprising. I wasn’t looking for recognition; I was looking for results. But it did tell me  that I must be doing a pretty good job,” Dave noted.   
    “But everything that we have accomplished wouldn’t have been possible without our volunteers.”

•    The Dundalk Renaissance Corp. will hold its annual Milestone Awards dinner on Saturday, March 23, at the Sparrows Point Country Club, 919 Wise Avenue, with drinks served at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Honorees include Dave and Brenda Patro, Russ Lingner, Dundalk Florist, Inc., and leaders from Dundalk High School. For more information about the event, call the DRC at 410-282-0261 or visit www.dundalkusa.org.