Sykesville's Candland manages to pitch in on projects big and small


July 02, 2002|By Debra Taylor Young | Debra Taylor Young,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AS SYKESVILLE'S town manager, Matthew "Matt" Candland is involved in many long-term projects. But sometimes the job brings problems that demand immediate attention.

For example, Candland was at work at 5 a.m. Friday, collecting recyclable trash because two of the town's six public works employees were out for the day.

"It's not the most glamorous job in the world. But it has to be done," he said. "I really appreciate what they do after spending a morning helping out."

Candland, who has been manager of the town for the past seven years, is responsible for day-to-day operations, which include overseeing the functions of the Police Department and Department of Public Works, which together have 14 employees. He also addresses zoning issues and works with the town planning commission.

Candland, 36, says that managing a small town affords him the opportunity to be involved in all of its projects, unlike his counterparts in larger cities.

Recently, Candland has been involved in the development of the Warfield Complex, the redevelopment of downtown (including the renovation of many public buildings and parking lots), and the planning of town events, such as the Family Fun Day scheduled for Saturday at Millard Cooper Park.

Candland also oversees the work at the Sykesville Gate House Museum of History on Cooper Drive that is done by curator Kerri Greenwalt and former curator Jim Purman, who still lends a hand. Greenwalt and Purman maintain collections of artifacts and photographs depicting the town's long history, much of which is connected to the railroads that still run along its southern border with Howard County.

"The town is developing its identity around the railroad," said Candland.

Early in the 20th century, Sykesville, as the second stop on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, experienced its first developmental boom.

Many attractions in the town emphasize its railroad past, including: the original train station, Baldwin's Station, now home of a fine dining restaurant; a model train shop; the new interlocking tower, which was formerly located near Penn Station in downtown Baltimore and now houses a visitor's center; and a 1949 amusement park miniature train ride for kids, the Little Sykes Railway, recently acquired from Pennsylvania.

Candland said the town is also revitalizing Main Street. New businesses are being sought for its downtown. Shop owners and town officials are working to improve many locations along Main Street and the streets that connect it to residential areas.

One new building is under construction on Main Street to replace one that burned down last year. It dated to 1930 and the town is using old photographs to rebuild it to its original design, Candland said. Plans call for old retail space on the first floor and a second-story apartment.

As part of the revitalization effort, Candland said Sykesville was also able to work with Howard County to "soften the approach into town" by planting perennials. He said the town would like to do more there, but was happy Howard County agreed to purchase $20,000 worth of plants, with the agreement that Sykesville would maintain them.

Major events are planned for every month this year, starting with the Sykesville Model Railroad Festival held last month. The festival drew 4,000 people to the town, and will be added to the list of yearly events with the Fall Festival, Christmas Open House and the Strawberry Festival. The town is also enhancing and creating parks.

Candland and his wife, Jenny, moved to Sykesville in 1995 after he became town manager. The Candlands and their five children, who range in age from 4 to 10, plan to stay in Sykesville.

"It's a great place to raise a family. I have no desire to move on to a bigger town," he said.

Candland added that together with Mayor Jonathan Herman and the Town Council, the work gets done very harmoniously.

"We all share the same vision," he said.

Backyard fireworks

Backyard fireworks will include new displays this year, according to Joe Blair of Elkton Fireworks. Blair said the law in Maryland was changed in October to include ground-based sparklers, also known as "fountain" displays.

Blair is selling fireworks under a tent canopy on the parking lot of Carrolltown Center. Customers unaccustomed to seeing fireworks tents in Maryland stopped by to see if the items for sale were legal in Maryland.

They were reassured that everything there was legal. Still, some customers were disappointed to find out that the new law only allows ground sparklers.

"You are still not able to legally purchase firecrackers, M-80s, bottle rockets or mortars in the state of Maryland," he said.

Debra Taylor Young's neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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