State promises to replace money for Warfield project

Legislature had deleted Sykesville plan's funding

May 02, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The state has assured Sykesville that it will replace planning money for the Warfield Complex that was deleted by the legislature, town officials say.

During several meetings with state officials last week, the town asked for $12 million to complete the project. The General Assembly eliminated $100,000 for planning last month. Originally, Gov. Parris N. Glendening had pledged $200,000.

"They told us that since the legislature cut funding, we will have to go to other state departments to find budgeted monies," said Councilman Michael H. Burgoyne. "We asked for $12 million and they didn't bat an eye."

Ron Young, state deputy director of planning, met with town officials Thursday "to pursue funding options and explore other options." He set no dollar figures or time limits.

"We want to work with Sykesville to find ways to do this," Young said. "Obviously, $12 million is not readily handy, but we want to find ways to move forward with this project. Monies are possible from other agencies and programs, and we are working with the town on those."

Loss of tenants feared

"Losing the funds to get started could have meant losing prospective tenants," said Burgoyne.

The town hopes to create an academic and employment campus from the vacant wards that were once part of Springfield Hospital Center and construct several buildings.

Town officials began planning for Warfield a year ago, soon after the state Board of Public Works approved Sykesville's proposal for the 138 acres along Route 32. It has tenants interested in nearly all of the 15 century-old buildings and firm plans for new construction, including a hotel.

"The governor is still very interested in the Warfield project," Young said. "It is a good project with a lot of things to offer Carroll County and the state."

Assured that the project would not involve town tax dollars, residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of the annexation three months ago. The legislators' decision to delete funding was a disappointment, but Mayor Jonathan Herman vowed "to keep cruising on, even if it is on a shoestring. But we were out on a limb, with no funding."

Governor's support

The mayor said he is much more optimistic after the recent meetings.

"The fact that the governor came to us shows he has not lost enthusiasm for Warfield," said Herman. "It is clear that the governor is committed, and that gives everybody a comfort level.

"The state is actually coming to us and telling us how to proceed," the mayor said. "All we need now is $200,000 and we will get started."

The state had given the town homework: Show how many jobs and the economic impact Warfield will have. With the advice of a planning consultant, the town put together an economic model last year that details the creation of 1,200 jobs and assorted tax benefits to the county and state.

"In the first few years, we will have the equivalent of 306 construction jobs that could mean $1.4 million in tax income to the state and $700,000 to the county," said Frederick W. Glassberg, president of Crystal Hill Advisors, a Columbia consulting company. "We can create jobs and tax flow."

"The state is moving forward with help," said Glassberg, who has participated in the meetings about Warfield. "They want to get this economic development engine moving."

Pub Date: 5/02/99

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