Westminster gets grant Sykesville gets shut out

March 30, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Two Carroll towns went to the state well for money to improve Main Street.

Westminster got a $27,000 grant.

But, with too many requests for too few dollars, Sykesville came back dry.

"The program is certainly oversubscribed," said Glenda Odom, coordinator of Maryland's Main Street Improvement Program. "For every dollar we give out, we have requests for three more."

Westminster will use its grant to finance a retail market assessment and its nonprofit Greater Westminster Development Corp. -- "an ongoing entity which provides commercial revitalization," Ms. Odom said.

Carroll County secured a $20,000 grant from the program, sponsored by the Department of Housing and Community Development. That money will pay for a consultant experienced in downtown revitalization to act as a "commercial circuit rider" to its eight municipalities, Ms. Odom said.

"The towns will benefit equally from expertise that can provide cohesion in creating an atmosphere to allow business to band together," she said.

Grant money had evaporated before Sykesville had its turn in the awards process. The town asked for $12,000 to improve its Pullman train car and build a model railroad display. Remodeling the car, which CSX donated to the town last year, "makes sense" for a railroad town that has a renovated train station, Ms. Odom said.

"We were quite impressed with Sykesville's application," she said. "The project was in keeping with the character of the town and had a lot of the activities we like to see. We just ran out of dollars before we got to it."

Sykesville Mayor Kenneth W. Clark said he could not understand the state's reasoning and expressed disappointment that his town seems to be at the bottom of the state's list.

"Certainly, taking a historic railroad car to bring business to Main Street was in keeping with the grant," he said. "Once again, the governor has not come to bat for Sykesville." Mr. Clark said he will ask Gov. William Donald Schaefer to meet with him. The mayor supports the county circuit rider, a job he sees as helpful to all the towns, but questioned the impact of $27,000 on a city the size of Westminster.

"The impact of $27,000 in Westminster is going to be less than $12,000 would be in Sykesville," he said.

Losing the grant will make completing the town's railroad project more difficult, he said. "They may have to scale down. With the grant money, they could have moved right on it."

Bruce Greenberg, acting coordinator for the railroad modelers' group, said he was disappointed but undaunted by the loss of the grant.

"It is money we would like to have, but we will just be creative and find ways to raise it ourselves," Mr. Greenberg said.

The grant would have paid for exterior paint, commercial carpeting and a heating and air conditioning system for the Pullman car renovation. Volunteers have been working on the car for several months.

"I have been fascinated and delighted with the positive response and the numbers who have offered to help in various ways," Mr. Greenberg said.

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