Less than two weeks from Election Day, Sykesville Town Council candidates on Thursday evening participated in a forum in which they discussed their visions for the town, as well as issues including parking, development and local business sustainability.
Town Council candidates Anna Carter, Mark Dyer, Jane Mergler and Jeremiah Schofield answered questions fielded by moderator Steve Enslow, Sykesville Planning Commission chairman.
When asked about their visions for Sykesville, Mergler discussed her hopes of a green town.
“I kind of have a vision for Sykesville 2030, and that vision is very much rooted in a low-carbon economy,” she said. “What that would entail is working with the staff of the town and all the other expert planners and town council members to develop an energy master plan for Sykesville.”
Even though he sees room for growth, Dyer said he believes Sykesville is good the way it is.
“Unlike everyone else here, I actually desire to continue on as we are now in an incremental manner,” he said. “I don’t want to make great perturbations in our lives by having a lot of things guided by the town council; I would rather have the businesses work with us to come up with ideas they want, and we would support them.”
Schofield and Carter both want to continue to see people want to visit Sykesville from different parts of Maryland.
Enslow later asked the candidates what they thought about the level of services that the town offers.
Carter would like to increase the recycling service and assist with the exploration of composting for the town.
Schofield continuously discussed the importance of connectivity between the town, local businesses and residents.
Dyer believes the town services are good as they are but believes the town could see incremental improvement such as battery recycling and general e-waste recycling.
Mergler agrees with the other candidates that the town services are good but that the town needs to “scratch the surface and look at the tough stuff” that requires them to work beyond their comfort zone to deal with issues such as storm water drainage.
A top issue that some of the candidates agreed on was the issue of parking and how to fix it. The town currently has five parking lots with more possible space to come.
According to Dyer, parking is mainly an issue for Sykesville during events.
“We recently just purchased another lot; the thought was for economic growth but that’s stagnant because of some issues,” Carter said. “So, we have recently striped those and gained 60 parking spots and there is a possibility of removing the building on that existing lot and gaining an additional 30. At this point, the town has seen that there is an issue, we’ve tried to address the issue. Being that we are a small town with a small footprint, there’s only so much that you can do, you can’t create land. We just need to be creative in gaining parking.”
Schofield took time to again assert why it is important to build communication between residents, the town and local business owners after the panel was asked how they would encourage business sustainability and growth.
“One of the things that I heard is that the town has tried to reach out to the local businesses and try to create a dialogue with them about concerns, about ideas, about suggestions,” he said. “I’ve also heard that the town is sometimes an obstacle for those businesses. I’ve also heard that not all the time is the town actually having all the discussions that they originally committed to. That’s what I think needs to happen. … We need to figure out ways of removing some of the obstacles in order for them to be able to creatively do the little things that they want to be able to do — or the big things that they want to be able to do.”
One of the last questions Enslow asked of the panel was about the connectivity between Warfield at Historic Sykesville and downtown Sykesville.
“I believe that we could, again, have the small electric shuttles, the small- and medium-sized buses that are electric, more walkable sidewalks, and I think we can invite a public-private partnership that would have a small program of bike share,” Mergler said.
At the end of the forum, each candidate made it clear that no matter voters’ preferences, it’s important to exercise your right to vote on Election Day.
Dyer mentioned another option if you do not wish to vote: “If you do not agree with me that Sykesville is well-run and on track, I would encourage you to run for office to be the change that you think is needed.”