Vital makeover for Edgewood

January 20, 1995

The long depressed image of Edgewood is in line for a much needed face lift with revitalization plans for the southern Harford County community.

A demonstration project to spruce up the business district along U.S. 40 from Tree Top to Gateway drives, with $100,000 in state and county grants, will soon be launched.

The project, which includes two of the oldest shopping centers, will bring new sidewalks, landscaping, street lighting and bus shelters to the area. School children have designed community identification banners to be hung from utility poles.

The effort will require the combined contributions of government, business and residents. Local funds to match the government grants will be needed to complete the project, which is scheduled to coincide with completion in spring 1996 of a $15 million state construction job to expand Route 24 between Interstate 95 and U.S. 40.

But the demonstration project is only one of seven areas of community activity in Edgewood that need attention. They will also need redevelopment plans and grants if greater Edgewood is to overcome its image as a center of subsidized public housing and high crime rates.

Other efforts also in the planning stages could further drive the revitalization efforts for Edgewood's business and residential communities.

The county proposes adding a bus route between Edgewood and Aberdeen, with stops at work and shopping sites along the U.S. 40 corridor, using some $700,000 in state and federal funds.

The sheriff's office is using borrowed part-time offices at two Edgewood locations to increase the law enforcement presence there. But Sheriff Joseph P. Meadows says he wants a permanent, full-time police substation for that critical location to improve officer response capabilities.

Perhaps most important would be the designation of Edgewood as an "enterprise zone" by the state, which could give business owners tax credits for renovations and for new hirings. "Enterprise zones are not just for cities," is an increasingly heard lTC battle cry from the Edgewood business community. Talk of possible incorporation as a town is quietly emerging after a silence of many years.

Development is certainly not dead along the busy Edgewood corridor. One problem is that new businesses have grabbed customers from old business, with little net economic expansion. The new revitalization proposals for Edgewood will be challenged to avoid that dead-end result.

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