Westminster seeks $10,000 grant for newly formed development group NTC

December 27, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Westminster city government is applying for $10,000 in state aid to help cover first-year staff costs for the Greater Westminster Development Corp. (GWDC).

The grant application calls for a tentative initial budget of $73,000 for the new business development organization. The budget is based on about $30,000 in city financing and an equal amount from county or private sources.

Westminster is also seeking a separate $8,000 state grant to update standards for renovation, including building facades, in the downtown area.

Thirty-five local business leaders and residents formed the GWDC in November. Its goal: to support existing businesses and attract new ones to Westminster.

Current thinking is that the corporation will rely on private and local government support, said Thomas K. Ferguson, president of Carroll County Bank and Trust Co. and chairman of GWDC's steering committee.

"We don't know what the needs are yet, so it's real hard to establish a budget," he said.

City Housing Supervisor Karen K. Blandford said GWDC organizers hoped for $50,000 apiece from the city and from the county or private sector. When she entered the budget numbers required for the grant application, she said, "I used the smaller dollar amount because I wanted to be conservative."

The remaining $3,000 in the projected budget would be made up by an in-kind contribution of city employees' staff time, photocopying and similar office expenses, Ms. Blandford said.

She is optimistic about the grant. "The state has been enthusiastic and supportive of our efforts to form the corporation," she said.

The consensus among City Council members favors financial support from local government, but the limits of that support have not yet been drawn.

"We're definitely going to need some seed money," said Councilman Stephen R. Chapin Sr. He said the GWDC may seek up to $5,000 from the city during a discussion session tentatively set for a February council meeting.

Mr. Chapin and Councilman Damian L. Halstad provided the impetus for the GWDC and have been attending formation meetings. But both expect city government representation to be temporary.

"The city is certainly going to play no role in the decision-making structure," Mr. Halstad said. "As soon as the corporation is comfortable having us not be present, we will not be present."

Council President Kenneth A. Yowan said he thinks city government should match private sector support. "The business community has to participate. The city cannot finance this unilaterally," he said.

Mr. Ferguson and steering committee member Joseph H. Beaver, president of Union National Bank, said they expect financial support from the private sector.

"I think the vision that was put on the table early on was that private businesses would be involved support-wise," Mr. Beaver said.

Mr. Ferguson said the committee is looking at a private, nonprofit corporate structure in which the steering committee would probably become the board of directors.

The GWDC has formed three subcommittees -- economic development, marketing and special events, and urban design.

Mr. Ferguson said the steering committee will need assessments of the needs of the three subcommittees to draft a budget.

Westminster has contributed about $1,300 in legal fees for City Attorney John B. Walsh Jr. to draft articles of incorporation and bylaws for the GWDC.

The separate grant request to revise standards for building facades was not prompted by the recent council revisions of sandwich-board sign standards, Ms. Blandford said.

"Those standards were written in the '70s and are just plaioutdated," she said.

Ms. Blandford said the grant will pay for a consultant to updatthe standards and draft a combination of mandatory and suggested building facades.

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