With $30,000 promised from the state, Sykesville officials expected to be renovating two aging buildings by now.
But the promise hasn't become a reality. The state has attached so many strings to the money, town officials say they might have to write another grant application to pay for the original one.
In July, Maryland Historical Trust awarded the town $25,000 to repair a one-room schoolhouse that black students attended for nearly a century, and $5,000 to create a municipal museum out of a century-old building that once was part of Springfield Hospital Center.
To get the money for the school, Sykesville probably will have to form a nonprofit organization to administer the grant.
The Schoolhouse Association, which oversees the old school and several adjoining properties, is a limited partnership. The grant money can only go to a nonprofit agency.
If the town takes over the building, it would have to provide a matching amount to receive the grant.
"We are looking for a compromise," said Town Manager Matthew H. Candland. "That may mean creating an entity to administer the grant."
Mayor Jonathan S. Herman said that entity might be the solution to several dilemmas. He planned to contact community leaders to help start the project.
"It's about time we established a nonprofit agency to receive grants," Mr. Herman said. "It will be a good tool for now and for later."
Officials at the Maryland Historical Trust could not be reached for comment.
"A $1,000 title search becomes painful for a grant of this size," Mr. Herman said.
The Gatehouse grant is a more ponderous problem. But before the two-story Gatehouse building on Cooper Drive can become a museum, the town must pay for a title search and survey of more than 500 acres, that probably would cost more than $5,000.
The town signed a $1-a-year lease with the state last year for the Gatehouse, once the main entry to the hospital.
In July, the trust told the town it would receive a third of its original $15,000 request for roof repairs and upgrades in wiring and plumbing.
But a title search, which could cost $1,000, and a property survey are delaying disbursement of the money.
"We have to do something to shake these guys up," Mr. Herman said. "They are giving us $5,000 for the Gatehouse. We don't want to spend $5,000 to get it."
Compared with the survey, the title is a minor obstacle. The Gatehouse and its half-acre lot are, at least on paper, still attached to the 528 acres that make up Springfield. Construction of Route 32 divided it from the main campus about 20 years ago but the state still is requiring a survey of the entire property.
Councilman Garth Adams said he can't understand why the town should pay to survey a state property for a state agency.
He proposed that the state use a 20-year-old State Highway Administration survey, which shows three sides of the property, and a town engineer's survey of the fourth side.
"We are hoping that will suffice, but we haven't heard yet," Mr. Adams said. The mayor hopes to untangle the bureaucratic snarls before winter. Both buildings need repairs or soon could be beyond repair, he said.
"We really need to get the buildings stabilized so another winter doesn't do more damage," Mr. Candland said.