SYKESVILLE — About 75 residents filled three rooms for a public hearing on the 714 Sandosky Road property at the Sykesville Town House Monday night, with others watching at home via Facebook live.
One speaker, an owner of the Carroll County Dance Center, came with a slew of supporters requesting the Mayor and Town Council bring all or part of its operations back downtown — where it first opened in 1990 before moving to Warfield at Historic Sykesville 12 years ago.
“We’ve looked forward to the development of Warfield,” said Megan Logee, “but it’s changed from the cultural center to a more medical, research center, and we don’t fit in there anymore.
"We’d like to remain ... a Sykesville business,” she said. “We’ve always maintained our connection to downtown, and felt really connected to downtown, and we’d love to remain a part of the community here and be able to have a physical presence here. This is an option we’d like to look into to have our business remain in Sykesville and not have to move elsewhere.”
Of the residents who accompanied her were parents whose children go to CCDC regularly or who attend classes at CCDC themselves.
“We’ve been Sykesville residents for over 15 years so far,” said Val Gadiyak. “As a parent, I really would like something also geared to kids. Right now when you go out in Sykesville with kids, it’s only ice cream places and French Twist — not too many other places for them to go.
“I know … Carroll County Dance Company [has] an interest in the place, and that would be, I think, very beneficial for kids as well as for adults, because they actually offer something for everyone,” she said. “I do take dance classes myself and both my kids, 4 and 6, go to dance classes.”
Gadiyak said that something like waiting 2 ½ hours for kids to get out of dance classes would also help boost business on Main Street.
“I'm here also in support of seeing Carroll County Dance Center occupy some or all of the space in question,” said Eldersburg resident Marcene Trump.
“I love the idea of being able to take my daughter to dance and go be able to get a cup of coffee, and pop into one of the shops here,” she said. “I don’t get to stop in as often as I’d like. The idea of being able to grab a quick dinner after dance, on days warmer than today get ice cream — I think it would bring a lot of foot traffic [to Sykesville].
“For a lot of the families here, we are in Eldersburg,” Trump said. “We are not very far away — but we definitely don’t come down to downtown Sykesville as often as I would like to. It would give my family and other families the opportunity to just be here in support of our fantastic downtown on a weekly basis.”
Others said it would add an arts and culture component that downtown Sykesville is currently lacking.
Another idea, bringing a brewery to Sykesville, was described in the flier posted on the Town of Sykesville website and sent out via email last week.
It stated since the town purchased the 1.4-acre, 9,800-square-foot site in 2016 a few options for development have come up — including businesses, extra parking spaces for Sykesville’s growing downtown establishments, municipal operations, and a brewery for 1623 Brewing Co.
But there were residents who said they’d rather see something more family-friendly.
“A more family-friendly business, I think, would be right for Sykesville,” said resident Ben Schuman. “I like getting a drink as much as anybody, but if I want to drink in Sykesville, I can go to [E. W.] Beck’s, Market Tavern, Baldwin’s [Station], the French Twist.”
But one resident said in her experience, a brewery is nothing but family-friendly.
“I don’t drink beer,” said Dana Alonzi, “but I have been to a lot of breweries lately because they’re very popular. I wouldn’t say they’re not family-friendly — I think the opposite.
“I took my nieces and nephews to get pizza, and we sat in the grass and played games [at a brewery],” she said. “I’ve seen nothing but families with little kids running around, setting up their own picnic on a table. What I’m going to say is if a brewery were to submit a [request for proposal], I wouldn’t want them to be discounted because they’re not family-friendly — because that simply has not been my experience.”
While some residents rose to the podium to share their comments, others wrote on comment cards or sent their emails from home, where they were watching the meeting live on Facebook.
“The brewery, 1623, would be a great addition to Sykesville,” Town Clerk Kerry Chaney read a comment submitted by local resident Jake Slade.
“I think it would make the town much more of a destination,” she read. “Businesses in Sykesville could very well benefit from a brewery.”
Mike McKelvin, one of the owners of 1623 Brewing, said the company is still very interested in the property and has spent a lot of money on engineering studies for the space already.
“That building needs a lot of work,” he said.
And for anyone concerned with how much alcohol will be available in Sykesville, he said, “One of the things most breweries are really good at is we regularly monitor the people that come in.
“We know what beer they’re drinking and how many they’ve had — that’s a significant part of what we do — and we train on it, we educate on it, and just want to be part of your [community].”
Other ideas included adding more of the small businesses for which Sykesville has become known, a fitness center, more parking for a growing downtown, or a business that promotes arts and culture. Residents who were not particular in their opinions said they only hope something other than municipal buildings are put there.