FREDERICK -- Spending millions on new roads, schools and other services and then spending more millions to aid "depleted downtowns" makes no economic sense, Gov. Parris N. Glendening told planners, preservationists and others at an annual conference here yesterday.
The governor made clear in a keynote address at the Historic Preservation and Economic Revitalization Conference at the Weinberg Center for the Arts that curtailing sprawl -- through revitalization of older areas and directed growth -- is a priority in his administration.
About 400 professionals and volunteers active in downtown and neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation and heritage tourism are attending the weekend conference being held at various locations in Frederick's Historic District. The conference's theme is "Growing Smart: Preservation and Revitalization in Maryland."
The governor said that if Maryland's growth patterns continue, the state will lose hundreds of thousands of acres in farmland and forest that would foster the abandonment of "our great and historic urban areas."
He said his administration has initiated efforts to curb sprawl, including a $7 million Neighborhood Business Development Program, which provides money to small businesses locating or expanding in revitalization areas; a change in the school construction program that gives priority to renovation and expansion of existing schools; and channeling millions of dollars of state transportation money away from new roads to rebuilding existing roads.
"The challenge we face is creating a Maryland in which people recognize that moving up does not mean moving out -- moving out of our cities and towns -- moving out to suburban sprawl," he said. "How we respond to this challenge will have a very real impact on the future of Maryland.
"By focusing our efforts on areas with infrastructure already in place, we help to prevent urban sprawl and save countless thousands of dollars on new roads, schools and water- and sewer lines," the governor said.
The first loan from the Neighborhood Business Development Program was presented yesterday to the Bowers Brewing Co. in Frederick. The company will use the $500,000 loan to renovate a 19th-century building, formerly Frederick's City Hall, as a restaurant and brewery.
Also speaking yesterday were Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the nation's largest nonprofit preservation group; state House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr.; and Donovan Rypkema, a national expert on downtown preservation and revitalization.
Mr. Taylor, an Allegany County Democrat, said he planned to introduce legislation that would create, throughout Maryland, heritage areas, such as Canal Place in downtown Cumberland.
Canal Place is a multifaceted project that includes rebuilding the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal's terminus and Cumberland's historic rail station to create the small city's focal point.
Such historic areas, Mr. Taylor said, bring tourism dollars, increase community pride and save important cultural sites.