The Towson Chamber of Commerce on Thursday was awarded $50,000 from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to “Enhance the streets of Towson and improve the walkability experience.”

The money comes from the department’s neighborhood revitalization program, according to an announcement from Gov. Larry Hogan. The money for Towson is one of 181 grants awarded Thursday, and just a slice of the $30 million total disbursement in fiscal year 2020.


“These awards are about creating economic growth, new jobs, and improving communities for all Marylanders,” Hogan said in a statement. “Our administration is proud to support such a diverse slate of important projects that will truly change Maryland for the better.”

The grant money for the Towson Chamber of Commerce will be used for artwork and murals around downtown Towson, said Nancy Hafford, the executive director of the chamber.

Hafford said she submitted the application for the grant in May and that she was surprised to get the news of the grant Thursday. Earlier in the day, it was announced that Baltimore County was getting federal money to help with a Towson Circulator free bus pilot.

“It’s right before Thanksgiving, and we’re very thankful for this,” Hafford said. “It’s an early Christmas present.”

State Sen. Chris West, a Republican who represents Towson in Annapolis, said he wrote letters to state officials in support of the grant going to the Towson chamber. Baltimore County has kind of deferred to Baltimore City when it comes to artistic expression, he said.

“It’s time for the county to say for itself, ‘Hey, we have some people with some artistic bent,’” West said.

The next step would be for Towson to become a designated arts and entertainment district, West said. Maryland has about two dozen such districts, but none in Baltimore County. Catonsville is trying to become the county’s first.

The $50,000 grant will go toward paying artists to paint murals or install other artwork around downtown Towson. Hafford said the chamber was looking at the possibility of decorating electrical boxes and storm drain covers. Decorating the big white columns outside the Towson branch of the Baltimore County Public Library is another possibility, Hafford said.

Because it’s the beginning of winter and the weather might not cooperate, it could be a few months before new murals get started, Hafford said. But the chamber is in a “perfect planning time,” she said.

Since the launch of the Towson Creative Partnership in January, public art and murals have been cropping up in the Towson area. There’s a sign to welcome people to Knollwood, a large “Welcome to Towson” sign off York Road, and some colorful koi fish on a local restaurant.

“Every great urban community has public art,” said County Councilman David Marks, who represents the Towson area.