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Abandoned bank parking lot pops up as a park in Mount Airy

A special ceremony Sunday evening brought out numerous officials and Mount Airy residents after volunteers restored the parking lot of the historic First National Bank building in Mount Airy, which has stood vacant and unoccupied for nearly two decades, and turned it into what is now known as the Simpson-Baker-Bowlus Pop Up Park.

The ribbon-cutting event included speeches and activities. On hand were Mayor Patrick Rockinberg, Chairman of the Mount Airy Recycling and Sanitation Commission Jim Stargel, Maryland Secretary Budget and Management David Brinkley, Governor’s Special Secretary Smart Growth Wendi Peters and council members Patty Washabaugh, Jason Poirier, Larry Hushour and Karl Munder, among others.

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Stargel previously told the Times he hopes the converted lot can become an outdoor venue for community events such as the annual Spring Fling and the fall festival. He said it can also be utilized by local businesses and organizations that are interested in using the space by potentially holding events or setting up vendors. The project was expected to add picnic tables, fire pits, planters, window art, and more to beautify the space and attract publicity to the downtown area.

Rockinberg said some 50 people have been involved in the project, including local businesses such as Ace Hardware, Seven Springs Landscaping Inc., and Reed and Son Services LLC, that are donating supplies and materials for the space. The Mount Airy Town Council, Mount Airy Arts Council and Mount Airy Beautification Commission are also involved and have contributed to planning and volunteering.

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