Customers growing accustomed to mall's new face SOUTHEAST -- Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

Despite three months of outraged criticism, the colorful new front at the main entrance of Carrolltown Center (formerly Carrolltowne Mall) in Eldersburg is gaining popularity.

"We'd been hearing totally negative comments for three months, but once the whole new front was completed we've heard from several people that it's pretty," said Bill Rowe, owner of Carrolltowne Liquors.


"We're right next to the front entrance, so people came in here to give us their comments on the project. We heard such negative criticism that when the first person came in and said that they liked the new entrance, we were quite surprised.

"But lately we've heard a lot more positive comments. I think what happened was that people saw the colors going up one at a time, and had no idea what it would look like when it was finished.


"Now that it is completed, a lot of them like it."

Dixon Harvey, the president of Black Rock Associates, the managing corporation for the mall's owners, says the new look is part of an ambitious plan to change the image of the mall.

"When we bought the mall last spring, we did some market research to find out what were the major areas which needed improvement," he said. "We were told that there were a lot of great stores, but that the mall lacked identity, and that a new customer would have no idea what they would find inside.

"As a matter of fact, a new customer would very likely be confused as to where the entrance itself was.

"The new entrance is to attract attention, to let everyone know that this is a great place to shop with a lot of different merchants. It also should clear up any confusion as to where the main entrance is."

Now that the new storefront has been unveiled, Mr. Harvey says he's looking into getting some coverage from the elements between Super Fresh and the main entrance.

New directional signs are also on the agenda.

Mr. Harvey said his goals are to make the mall the center of the community, possibly to draw additional people from surrounding areas, and to help the center's merchants as much as possible.


"In addition to the new entrance, we've improved the lighting in two halls which used to be dark, improved the exterior lighting, and opened up one of the fountains to make it more accessible to children and adults," he said.

"We made a small mistake -- the colored gravel we surrounded the fountain with was just a little too popular with the kids. They love to play with it, and we've had to clean too much of it out of the fountain."

Those who've heard rumors that the inside of the mall will be painted to match the main entrance can rest assured that the interior will remain light in color.

"The merchants like the idea of white, so their fronts will be more visible for shoppers," Mr. Harvey said, "and that's probably what we'll go with."


The circus is coming to town!


The big top's visit is the result of an inspiration of Tina Crockett, fund-raising chairwoman for Freedom Elementary School, who saw the Alain Zerbini Circus while vacationing in Ocean City and wondered if the troupe would come to Eldersburg to amuse the families here.

It would, and now we can all enjoy the raucous fun.

Your chance to ride the elephants and laugh at the clowns will come Sunday at Freedom Elementary School on Route 32 in Eldersburg. Show times are 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Because few parking spaces are available at the school, a free shuttle has been arranged to provide transportation from the ample parking at Liberty High School to the circus.

Shuttle service begins at 1:30 p.m. and will carry passengers, at five-minute intervals, until about 6:30 p.m.

"The circus has a tent which will seat 1,200 people," said Lillian Smith, publicity chairwoman, "so we don't have a rain date. You can watch the circus even in a downpour."


Advance tickets are available for $5. They will be $7 at the door. Children under age 2 are free.

To obtain discount tickets, call the school at 795-0848. Sale of the discount tickets is also tentatively planned for the Carrolltown Center on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.


The Freedom Area Recreation Council has announced creation of the new Freedom Baton and Pompon Corps.

"We've had the program before, but it was done with an affiliated teacher," said Pam Short, community coordinator for the council. "We know that there are at least 20 girls who are interested in this type of sport, so this time the council itself has hired a teacher, and we may subsidize the program for a year or so just to get it on its feet.

"We did that with the dance program; it, too, started with just 20 girls, but now it's grown to 60 or so. We're sure the new Baton and Pompon Corps will enjoy that kind of success, too."


Even if the group continues to attract just 20 girls a year, the council plans to keep the program.

"We're committed to providing programs that the community wants," Ms. Short said. "If there are 20 girls who want the program, that's enough for us. We want them to have that program. If it grows, and we think it will, that's great."

Children age 4 and older can be registered for the corps in the Freedom Elementary cafeteria from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow and Sept. 29.

Registration is $20 and dues are $10 a month.

Classes will be on Wednesdays starting Oct. 6. Times will be determined by instructor Judi Marlatt.

For information on this, or other council programs, call Pam Short at 549-6296.