Flood Relocated Sykesville

May 05, 1991

In its early years, Sykesville's living came from the river -- the south branch of the Patapsco River -- and the railroad -- the Baltimore & Ohio railroad with its strings of coal cars.

Living by the river's vagaries has its cost, as any old-time Sykesville resident can tell you.

Over the years, hard and long rains and hurricanes drove the river into a muddy torrent that has devastated Main Street and driven people from their homes more than once. In 1868, floods washed away mostof the town. So residents rebuilt their community on the Carroll side of the river, which affords some higher elevation and protection from the Patapsco.

Sykesville offers the visitor glimpses of well-preserved Victorian homes, a century-old Queen Anne-style train depot and a Main Street that, without the cars, harkens back to the old dayswhen former Mayor Leroy "Happy" Kenney and his dog used to sit outside his shop and watch people walk by.

Main Street once served the commercial needs of residents of the town and surrounding areas. Eventually, the roadway felt the pinch of county growth and was unable tocompete with new businesses locating in Eldersburg and along LibertyRoad. Today, the South Carroll town is revitalizing its downtown business district.

A block grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's Small Cities Program in 1987 and 1989 is sprucing up the street to better enhance the community's historic, small-town image and attract new businesses and customers, officials hope.

Now the town on the Carroll-Howard county line is primarily a bedroom community, whose residents commute to jobs in the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas.

Town government

Incorporated in 1904, Sykesville is the county's fifth-largest municipality, with a1991 population of 2,433 residents.

Its fiscal 1990-1991 (budget year starts July 1) property tax rate is 68 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which is in addition to the county property tax. Homes are assessed at 40 percent of market value. The owner of a typical $134,000 home (assessed at $53,600) pays $365 annually in town property taxes, plus $1,260 in county property taxes.

The town provides residents and businesses with twice-weekly trash pickup.

Sykesville is governed by a non-partisan mayor and six council members serving staggered four-year terms. Council members receive $30 per meeting; themayor, $60.

Elections are the first Tuesday in May of odd-numbered years; three council seats are up for election in 1991.

The council meets at 7:30 p.m. the second Monday of each month at Town Hall, 7547 Main St., 21784; telephone 795-8959.

* Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr.: since 1981, term ends 1993

* Council President Charles B. Mullins: since 1983, term ends 1991

* Councilman Kenneth W. Clark: since 1989, term ends 1993

* Councilman Charles L. Ferguson: since 1983, term ends 1991

* Councilman Eugene E. Johnson: since 1984, termends 1993

* Councilman Wiley Purkey: since 1987, term ends 1993

* Councilwoman Maxine C. Wooleyhand; since 1987, term ends 1991

* Manager and Zoning Administrator James L. Schumacher, since 1985

* Clerk/Treasurer Vince Diffenbaugh

* Police Chief Wallace P. Mitchell

* Attorney Dennis J. Hoover

Tourist attractions

* TownHouse: This turn-of-the-century building, with several rooms of memorabilia dating to 1904, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; tours by appointment at 795-6390.

* Main Street: Visit this nationally acclaimed historic area with turn-of-the-century buildings. Restored buildings include the B & O Railroad Station (now Baldwin's Restaurant) and the Union National Bank Building.

* St. Paul's United Methodist Church: 7538 Main St. This floodlit edifice of the Queen Anne-style is one of the more beautiful views at night. The white weatherboard church, with stained glass windows, looks as though it belongs in New England.

* Springfield Presbyterian Church: 7300 Spout Hill Road. Built in 1836, this church served as the first organized school in town.

* St. Barnabas Episcopal Church Parish House: 7609 Main St. Built in 1865, this two-story stone building once was a store.

* B & O Railroad Station: Main Street near the river. This brick train depot was built in 1883 by the B & O Railroad from a design by E. FrancisBaldwin. The building now houses Baldwin's Restaurant.

* Millard Copper Park: Cooper Road. Open during daylight hours, the town's onlymunicipal park includes a pavilion, a nature trail, picnic tables, an outdoor amphitheater, horseshoe pits, tennis courts, volleyball courts and a children's play area.

Special events

* June 8: Strawberry Festival sponsored by

the Historic Preservation Commission; strawberries and ice cream will be sold on the porch and lawn of the Main Street Town House; musical entertainment; 1 to 5 p.m.

* Oct. 5: Sykesville Fall Festival; activities sponsored by the Sykesville Improvement Association, a group of local merchants and concerned citizens; food, games, crafts, entertainment, re-enactment of a Civil War skirmish; on Main Street in the business district; 10 a.m to 5 p.m.

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