Over 30 years ago, when Andrea Van Arsdale graduated from college with a degree in wildlife biology, she probably never expected to find herself responsible for overseeing major changes to densely populated (by humans) communities in Baltimore County, such as the current redevelopment of Towson—a series of projects backed by more than $800 million in private investment. But that’s precisely where the 50-something finds herself today.
As director of the Baltimore County Office of Planning, Van Arsdale is tasked with guiding the growth and development of the entire county, which spans over 680 square miles and is home to more than 800,000 residents. Currently, the project that takes up much of her time focuses on revitalizing Towson’s downtown business district. Long a sleepy suburban area, Towson — with more than 48,000 workers, 55,000-plus permanent residents, and a college student population of approximately 25,000 —has the potential to earn a much different reputation, especially as the town’s numbers are expected to grow.