SYKESVILLE — Town officials bid welcome Monday to a three-member state delegationvisit to the Town Council's monthly special meeting.
State Sen. Larry E. Haines and Delegates Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, and RichardC. Matthews, R-Carroll, spent the evening touring the town, dining and sitting in on the council meeting.
"It's a good idea," said Haines, the Republican 5th District representative. "I think all town councils should invite us for a night like this. It's a good chance to see the town's successes as well as their problems."
Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr., Town Manager James L. Schumacher and five members of the council led the state visitors on a tour that highlighted projects accomplished with state money.
"The state gave 80 percent of the town's portion of the cost of the recycling center," Schumacher told the state delegation. "We're using part of our new maintenance building for the center, and it's working out very well."
The trio then was shown the site of the proposed $3.5 million, 32-acre, industrial-commercial Raincliffe Center, which willbe partially subsidized by state loans.
"The nice thing about thestate loans is that they are paid back through taxes," Helt said.
Dixon told town officials that the state Board of Public Works had just signed an agreement giving the county 100 acres for recreational use on the south side of Raincliffe Road.
State money has done much for the town's parks, Helt noted. Lighting, tennis courts and playgrounds were pointed out as achievements of state Program Open Space money.
"State money is my bread and butter. I love it," Schumacher told the legislators as they surveyed the downtown district.
Stategrants and loans helped revitalize the downtown business district, bring in new businesses and install a much-needed storm drain system to help prevent flooding during heavy rains, town officials said.
"We want to thank you for helping us with the storm drain money," Heltsaid.
After hearing the history of the town's old train station, another renovation accomplished partly through state grants, the lawmakers were treated to dinner at Baldwin's Restaurant. The mayor and council gave up their pay for Monday's meeting to cover the cost of the dinner.
As trains rumbled by only a few feet from the Queen Anne-style building, the visitors marveled at the project and noted, laughingly, that nothing served in Annapolis could top this meal.
The delegation then sat in on the Town Council meeting as the loan package for Raincliffe Center was passed. Helt thanked the delegation members for their help with town projects.
"I consider state money a payment for the service we render to the local citizens, and we appreciate that," Helt said. "We want you to know that the money you've given us has gone for the purpose for which it was intended."
Haines said the tour was enlightening.
Dixon urged town officials not to be afraid to bring any problems they encounter with the state to the legislators' attention.
"This is the first time we've visited a municipality in action to see how you enact state legislation and what you're doing to improve your town," Matthews told the town officials.
"The tour gave us more awareness of your programs and problems, sothe next time you talk to us we'll know what you're talking about," he said.
Helt told the legislators to "remember we are your friends here. If there's anything we can do to help you, let us know. We'rehere to serve you, too."