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Our View: A good week for ideas, both large and small, in the town of Sykesville

You don’t earn the moniker “Coolest Small Town in America” without coming up with some good ideas. Sykesville, which picked up that nickname in a travel magazine contest a few years ago, heard a proposal for an innovative plan having to do with an old warehouse on Monday at its Town Council meeting. And on Friday, town officials remembered an important Sykesville employee in a most appropriate way.

Sykesville Town Council members heard details of a proposal to bring a makerspace — a first for the town — to South Branch Park. Members of Hive Coalition — composed of members of Downtown Sykesville Connection, Howard County Recreation & Parks, Ridge to Reefs, Arium AE and the Pie3 robotics program — presented about their goal to open the facility where people can share expertise and equipment, especially in areas of technology. Their plan is to “engage and prepare next professional generations by transferring knowledge and applications and by promoting access to new and innovative technologies for youth and adults, arts projects, community activities and green programs.”

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One of the goals to bring the makerspace to Sykesville is to preserve and restore the historic facility known as the Apple Butter Warehouse, located across the Patapsco River on the grounds of South Branch Park in Howard County. The facility was used to manufacture apple butter starting in 1944, though the site has had different industrial uses since as early as 1789.

“It really was the idea that we need ... a makerspace that would benefit kids and adults in the neighborhood,” said Paul Sturm, executive director of Ridge to Reefs, an Eldersburg-based company that works toward environmental goals such as reducing water pollution. According to Sturm, the point of the makerspace is to provide a place where kids and adults can “make things and be creative,” but most importantly where they can learn about programming, operating computers, practicing 3-D printing, coding and STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “The idea is to build tomorrow’s leaders, not just tomorrow’s workers or something like that. I think that it’s important that kids get comfortable in the future robotics,” Sturm said.

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He is 100% correct and this project would be a major benefit to kids as well as preserving a historic building, a classic two-birds, one-stone solution. Of course, it’s in the early stages and will need approval from Howard County, which owns the property. But it’s a great idea and we hope it gains traction.

Another great idea was the decision to honor longtime town engineer Bob Bond Sr. on Friday, with a memorial bench and by adding his name to a brick on the patio of the Town House that’s reserved for veterans. Mark Onheiser, Sykesville’s project coordinator, and Jana Antrobus, executive assistant to the town manager, worked together to bring the memorial ceremony to present the two items to Bond’s family.

Bond., who died in June, served in the U.S. Army from 1948 to 1951. He worked for the town of Sykesville for 47 years. His work is apparent throughout the town and he also left a mark on its people. “Bob impressed upon me like there’s no tomorrow. The rest of my life ... every time I look at the drawing or print, or storm drain, I’m going to think about Bob," Onheiser said.

Mayor Ian Shaw said it was important for the town to do something for Bond “so he won’t be forgotten.” We couldn’t agree more. Every municipality has unsung heroes working behind the scenes to better the lives of residents. This was a wonderful gesture for one of them in Sykesville and we encourage all cities and towns to follow suit for those who are rarely recognized.

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Bond’s family clearly appreciated the town honoring him and noted that a bench in the middle of town is preferable to a cemetery for reflection. “We have a place to come," Bond’s daughter, Cindi Hayes, told Shaw, "because I don’t like sitting in a graveyard that much but I can come sit here.”

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