Downtown Towson will soon have 70 new two-in-one waste receptacles that will include separate containers for garbage and recyclables, paid for with a $75,000 grant the state recently awarded to the Towson Chamber of Commerce.
Nancy Hafford, the chamber's executive director, said she hopes the new cans will spruce up the appearance of downtown, giving it an updated look that will attract business and customers. The green cans that currently line York Road and the surrounding streets are in disrepair, Hafford said, and in need of replacement.
"People will notice this big improvement," she added.
While there are some recycling containers on Allegheny Avenue, the change will also bring street recycling containers to the rest of the business district, Hafford said.
The grant, which the chamber applied for and received this fall, comes from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's Community Legacy program, which funds projects to attract and maintain businesses, among other goals, according department officials.
Del. Steve Lafferty, who represents Towson in the Maryland House of Delegates, said he informed Hafford of the opportunity for the funding. The trash cans in place now are decrepit and falling apart, he said.
"While the needs are much greater than trash and recycling cans, clearly having those would be a start," he said.
Lafferty would also like to see improvements such as bike racks and guards around street trees in Towson. Hafford said the chamber will be using the grant to purchase new 10 benches, but the bulk of the money is being spent on the waste receptacles.
For fiscal 2017 $3.47 million in Community Legacy funds were distributed to 49 projects in 18 counties, according to the housing department. Lafferty said the grant is competitive, as the department receives applications from projects throughout the state. The grant doesn't require the recipient to match the money being given, which adds to it appeal, he said. An official from the department said the number of grant applicants statewide wasn't immediately available.
Hafford said she hopes to have the money in the first quarter of 2017. She'll purchase 70 cans with a capacity of 64 gallons each, 32 gallons for trash and 32 gallons for recycling. The cans, made of steel, will cost $758.85 each when purchased in bulk.
The chamber will also use the grant to pay for installation of the new receptacles, starting in areas where trash cans currently are, Hafford said. Once the cans are installed the county will be responsible for picking up the trash and recyclables, as it has been in the past, Hafford added.
At a forum on the future of downtown Towson at Goucher College Nov. 30, Mike Ertel, President of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, an umbrella organization that unites Towson's organized community groups, complained about what he said is a lack of maintenance downtown, both from the county and from businesses that he said need to take more pride in their appearance. Ertel said Friday he wasn't familiar with the chamber's plan to replace the receptacles, but added that his assumption is that new cans would make downtown more presentable.
"All those little things help," he said.