Trade on history, consultant tells Sykesville His study recommends improving Howard entry

November 26, 1997|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Sykesville should redevelop Main Street without changing its character, maintaining century-old storefronts and trading on a history entwined with the Patapsco River and the railroad, a new study recommends.

The town of 3,500 residents might draw neighboring Howard County into the process, asking for its help in improving a key entrance, said the consultant's study, made public Monday.

"How we enter the town is as important as what is there," said Sean D. Davis, an architect with LDR International of Columbia, an urban design company.

Davis identified three primary entrances to Sykesville from Route 32 but gave precedence to the southern entry from Howard County. The first glimpse from that road is an old warehouse on an overgrown lot along the Howard side of the Patapsco. The heart of the town is across a concrete bridge in Carroll.

"The entrance to town from Howard County is critical; it must be the strongest and most emphatic view," said Davis. "You have to improve that image."

When he asked whether residents were willing to invest tax dollars into restoring and maintaining another county's property, heard a resounding "yes" from about 75 residents at a public hearing on revitalization Monday.

More than a decade ago, town officials tried to annex the river property. They have said they would probably not repeat that effort. The town and county might enter into a binding agreement on the management of the property, "a cross-party ** agreement that happens every day," Davis said.

Howard County will never allow the town to annex the property that adjoins park land but might consider a long-term lease, Mayor Jonathan S. Herman said.

"Our investment at that entrance is key," Herman said. "We have all rented space and improved it. It is only protecting our own investment."

Residents also said they want to keep downtown's historic look while adding businesses that draw residents and tourists.

"Whatever we do, we must keep the historic flavor of Sykesville," said Richard Barry of Springfield Avenue.

Pub Date: 11/26/97

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