The state Board of Public Works awarded Westminster and Hampstead $63,641 yesterday from Program Open Space.
Westminster received $23,891 to buy land on Main Street that will be developed into a meeting place for downtown shoppers.
Hampstead received nearly $39,750 to buy land and install playground equipment next to a basketball court on West Street, the second phase of its Towne Centre Park project.
In Westminster, a 2,500-square-foot plot in front of Locust Lane Mall and across Main Street from the Carroll County public library will be turned into a common area with landscaping, park benches and a directory of downtown businesses.
"The city wanted to preserve the last piece of open space in the area," said Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster's director of planning and public works.
City officials envision the site as a focal point downtown, a place where people can gather, relax and peruse an informational kiosk promoting area shops.
The money is coming from state Department of Natural Resources' Program Open Space, which is aimed at providing an "open space for natural resource protection and recreation -- parks, playgrounds and waterfront access," said H. Grant Dehart, a spokesman for the Board of Public Works, which approved the funding.
The program is paid for through the state's real estate transfer tax, which is one half of 1 percent of a property's value, Dehart said.
The amount each local entity receives is based on a formula that considers such factors as the area's population, growth and the amount of taxes collected there.
Beyard said the grant covers only the purchase of the land, which is being acquired from the Rosenberg family, who used to own the Hub Furniture Center in Carroll Plaza.
The development, which will include a mural on the wall of The Optical Solution, is expected to cost an additional $15,000 to $20,000 with construction to begin next year, Beyard said.
In Hampstead, the grant covers 75 percent of the projected cost of $53,000 for the playground, town officials said.
The county and town will each contribute $6,625, which is half of the remaining 25 percent.
Sun staff writer Mike Farabaugh contributed to this article.
Pub Date: 2/11/99