Sykesville association focuses on vitality of downtown area

The new Sykesville Main Street Association, formed earlier this year, is setting an agenda for the fall that includes a report on its progress to date in promoting Sykesville's downtown area, as well as work to formalize future plans to draw statewide attention to the town.

One of the group's kickoff events will be a Main Street "pep rally," set for Thursday, Oct. 13, beginning at 7 p.m. at Sykesville's Town House, 7547 Main St.

"It's a chance to let everyone know that we've started this program, that it's working very well, and come see what we've done," said Ivy Wells, Sykesville's Main Street manager and director of Economic Development. "For everyone who's wondering what's next, we're going to tell them."

Part of "what's next" will include an update on association's renewed efforts to obtain a Main Street Maryland designation for Sykesville, under a program created by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Wells said the window for applying for Main Street Maryland status under the program opens up once every three years.

Last time around, in 2008, the Town of Sykesville applied, but missed the cut.

In anticipation of reapplying, the town formed the new Main Street Association, using a "four-point" approach that is the basis of the Main Street Maryland program:

• Promotion — related to retail promotions, advertising and events.

• Design — creating a step-by-step plan for enhancing downtown aesthetics.

• Organization — detailing efforts to attract more volunteers and develop new fundraising methods) and

• Economic restructuring — strategizing to bring new businesses to Main Street while enhancing opportunities for existing businesses.

In May, the Main Street Association's members broke out into four separate committees to address each of the four points. Each committee will report its progress on Oct. 13.

Since 2008, the main Street Maryland program has added a fifth criteria: a "Clean, Safe and Green" component that focuses on principles of "smart growth" and sustainability.

Wells says getting the Main Street Maryland designation would open doors to future grants and opportunities that come with being part of the Maryland Historical Trust's and the National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Main Street Center's network.

The designation can help communities tap into state programs such as Community Development Block Grants, Community Investment Tax Credits, Community Legacy funds and Community Services Grants.

In Carroll County, Westminster, Mount Airy and Taneytown have been awarded the Main Street Maryland designation in the past.

"It's not like winning the lottery where they dump a bunch of money into our Main Street," Wells added. "But it gives us lots of leverage and additional opportunities for grants."

At the Oct. 13 rally, former Sykesville mayor Jonathan Herman, a contractor specializing in historic restoration, will attend the rally and speak about Main Street and its future potential.

As mayor, Herman was front and center in a number of revitalization efforts, including the formation of a designated historic district within the town.

Also on hand will be John Kachik, an artist who created a promotional poster, "Main Street, Sykesville." Residents who sign up for membership with the association will receive a signed copy of the poster.

Paint and Plant

After the rally, the association will hold its first volunteer "Paint and Plant" community service day on Saturday, Nov. 5, beginning at 8 a.m., on Main Street.

"We'll be painting the old E.W. Beck carry-out building and doing some basic cleaning, painting and landscaping along Main Street and on the town house pavilion," Wells said.

For more information on either event, or for details about the Sykesville Main Street Association, contact Wells at, or go to

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