Main Street in Historic Ellicott City is competing with 28 main streets in a state-sponsored contest to enhance historic preservation and rehabilitation efforts in downtown areas throughout the state.
The winning streets in the Maryland Main Street Program competition will receive a $5,000 grant and assistance from several state agencies, including The Department of Natural Resources, the State Highway Administration and the Department of Housing and Community Development.
A committee of representatives from the departments involved will select up to five Maryland main streets next month to participate in the program.
"It's an attempt to recognize and reward those Maryland communities that are actively working on revitalization and have demonstrated a commitment to develop and maintain the historical character of their main street areas," said Eileen Fitzgerald, coordinator of the Maryland Main Street Designation Program.
Although many state agencies have historic preservation components, the goal of the Maryland Main Street Program competition is to pool resources from the various departments to provide assistance to main street preservation projects.
Depending on the needs of the winning main streets, various departments might help with environmental issues, the development of parking options and tourism campaigns and attracting appropriate businesses to the area, Fitzgerald said.
The selection committee will use the following criteria: the strength of the commitment to revitalization of the main street area, the extent of participation by the community and merchants and the use of private and public resources.
"To a large part we'll also be judging them against their own ability and how far they've come with the resources they've had," Fitzgerald said.
Alice Ann Wetzel, the county's historic planner, prepared Ellicott City's application and submitted it to the state Nov. 5.
The application includes photos of Main Street, supporting statements from local preservation groups, a brief history of the area and descriptions of rehabilitation efforts currently under way.
Also included is a statement explaining why Ellicott City's Main Street is worthy of inclusion in the program.
"Ellicott City is a survivor. It has recovered from floods, fires and malaise in the last 20 years. This spirit of survival is a genuine source of civic pride which has helped shape the revitalization efforts in town," the statement reads.
"The reward for all the hard work in rehabilitating the businesses and surrounding homes can be seen every day of the week when the sidewalks and stores are busy with visitors."