Carroll County Times
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Downtown Sykesville Connection works on initiatives to make the town a ‘clean and green’ place to live

A local nonprofit organization based in downtown Sykesville has been working on initiatives for the past year to make the town a clean and green place to live while involving youth in litter prevention programs.

The Downtown Sykesville Connection is a nonprofit community organization that coordinates initiatives to enrich the quality of life in Sykesville. In 2021 the group obtained $30,000 in operational grant awards, and facilitated $11,000 in beautification projects, $8,000 in art projects and $19,876 in community programs.


Community programs include the Holiday Christmas fundraiser that serves more than 20 families and 70 children in the area, as well as programming at the community garden, such as story time and garden workshops with giveaways, and free kids activities at the town’s Farmers Market.

It has also provided more than $130,000 to support Sykesville small businesses, according to executive director Julie Della-Maria.


The Keep Sykesville Beautiful group is a partnership between the Clean, Green, and Safe Committee of the Downtown Sykesville Connection and staff from the town’s Public Works Department and Parks and Recreation.

Together, the partners use a Keep America Beautiful framework for community education and hands-on stewardship that reduces litter and encourages recycling. They also promote grassroots volunteerism and aim to improve behavior and create innovative, locally focused programs that address the specific needs of Sykesville.

A grant awarded in 2021 through Keep America Beautiful’s Cigarette Litter Prevention Program will cover the cost of several stand-up receptacles and 12 pole receptacles where extinguished cigarettes, cigarette filters, loose tobacco pouches, outer plastic packaging, inner foil packaging, rolling paper and ash can be safely disposed of.

The cigarette receptacles are aimed at not only preventing litter but also allowing for recycling through the TerraCycle program. Cigarette butts are collected, shipped back to Terracycle, then shredded and separated into plastics, papers and organics to be reused as other products.

The Keep Sykesville Beautiful group held a youth art contest with Piney Ridge Elementary School to design stickers to be placed on the receptacles. Courtney Evans, an art teacher at the school, asked fifth graders to design stickers for the contest. A total of 42 entries were collected.

“We originally had in mind to select one, but it was impossible, so the Keep Sykesville Beautiful board decided to select 10,” Della-Maria said.

One entry, she said, featured an image of Freddie Mercury, former lead singer of Queen, as well as an environmentally conscientious message that fit into the cadence of the rock ballad, “We Will Rock You.”

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Shannon Baum is handling sticker production and the Sykesville’s Public Works Department will install them.

“This is the best partnership we’ve had in town,” Sykesville Town Council member Leo Keenan said. “It couldn’t be better and I’m very proud of the way it’s all coming together.”

Council President Anna Carter said without a viable Main Street, there is no Sykesville community.

“You can see the growth, you can see the excitement and it makes me love where I live,” Carter said.

The Downtown Sykesville Connection is part of the Main Street Maryland Program, a comprehensive downtown revitalization program created in 1998 by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Main Street Maryland selects communities that have made a commitment to succeed and helps them improve the economy, appearance and image of traditional downtown business districts through a four-point approach for commercial revitalization, organized into the following committees: Design, Organization, Promotion, Economic Restructuring, and Green, Clean and Safe.