Sustaining the revival of Main Street will be the main focus of a planning session that Sykesville is organizing for town officials, the business community and residents.
The town will hire an outside consultant to help continue the development of downtown as the town enters its second century.
"There is a consensus and common goals among all the town groups that a revitalized downtown would bring the outlying areas closer," said Mayor Jonathan S. Herman. "We can ensure our economic future and give the town a renewed spirit if we make downtown accessible to all."
The mayor is confident that a downtown master plan can "reflect the vitality of its residents and businesses."
The concept fits into Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth initiative to end sprawl and concentrate growth around towns, the mayor said. If the legislation passes the General Assembly, it might be easier for the town to secure state grant money for its downtown projects, which include development of its riverfront property along the Patapsco.
"We should jump on the Smart Growth bandwagon, decide how it can help us and take advantage of it," said Councilman Michael Burgoyne.
Burgoyne expects many new ideas to flow from the proposed downtown planning session, which could take place in early fall. Town officials hope to begin revitalization projects by July 1998.
"A lot would depend on public and private money," Burgoyne said. "But if we start by including everybody, we will come up with a good plan and then work to implement it."
About 100 houses are in various stages of the development approval process. Once they are completed, probably within the next three years, town officials say, Sykesville's population will stabilize at around 3,500.
"For the last several years, our main goal has been growth," said Matthew H. Candland, town manager. "Now that new development is nearly complete, we can work on unifying both the old and new sections of town."
Downtown can be the gathering place for longtime and new residents, Candland said. While many streets lead to Main Street, walkers have few sidewalks or greenways to make the trip. Planners would like to develop pathways, from the northern areas of town to the Patapsco River. The town also hopes to extend to the river its nearly two-mile linear park -- a popular place for joggers and strollers.
"If we can improve the downtown layout, we can draw people here," said Candland. "We want the newer residents to come downtown to shop and visit."
The renovated train station, now Baldwin's Restaurant, and the river front are pivotal to the downtown renewal. Sykesville also has worked closely with Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, which is developing its side of the river into a park.
Festivals and community events could also draw residents to Main Street. The annual fall festival, organized by the Sykesville Business Association, usually attracts several thousand visitors. A holiday open house, held the first weekend of December, also has been successful.
Michelle Wroten, president of the business association, is hoping the planning session will generate more ideas.
"We are looking at this whole vision as a real positive, a great start on what we can do," Wroten said. "We have always strived to make the whole downtown area one unit, with all its assets accessible and worthwhile."
The goal to is adopt a plan, put it into effect and celebrate the Sykesville centennial in 2004 all along a renewed Main Street.
Pub Date: 3/23/97