Westminster's Locust Lane could be refurbished with a kiosk to mark the beginning of a historic trail and an elevated surface to meet handicapped-accessibility needs for shops along the pedestrian mini-mall.
"It's part of our overall downtown program," said Karen K. Blandford, the city's manager of housing and community development. She will ask the Westminster Common Council tomorrow night for permission to seek about $8,000 from the state's Main Street Improvement Program to redesign the city's pocket park on East Main Street.
"It's fun, and it does tie into some bigger things that are happening," she said. The city would be required to match the state money, but it has allotted more than enough - about $20,000 - for the project in the current capital budget.
Locust Lane stopped being a roadway and became a pedestrian walkway more than 20 years ago, Blandford said, and "looks a little dated." If approved, she said, the city would seek bids for a new design beginning next week.
One goal of the new design is to better tie Locust Lane to the entrance of the Carroll County Public Library across the street, she said.
"And one of the things we absolutely need to do something about is barrier-free entrances," she said. "That needs to be corrected."
That could mean elevating and repaving the surface of the lane to meet the level of store entrances or the rear entrance area from the city parking lot.
"At the same time, we want to get a design for the rest of the space that meets our contemporary needs - to use it as a town center, on a pedestrian scale," she said. A kiosk would offer a merchants listing and mark the beginning of a heritage trail, which is being developed with the Historical Society of Carroll County.
"All the pieces are starting to come together: the new street lighting, the mural, the historic trail - things we've been working on for a number of years are starting to come together now into one vision," she said.
An outdoor sculpture also has been discussed, she said.
In January, the city dedicated its first outdoor mural - a scrolled map based on an 1877 city atlas - painted on the wall of the Optical Solution at 47 E. Main St. Blandford said reaction has been positive. The easternmost of the two buildings in Locust Lane has been reacquired by the Rosenberg family, she said. They are descendants of Solomon Morris Rosenberg, who founded The Hub clothing stores and what was then called the Hub building on East Main Street. His son Herman later built Carroll Plaza and moved the store there.
In the early 1990s, the state's Main Street Improvement Program provided money that, among other things, founded the nonprofit Greater Westminster Development Corp. and paid for the HyettPalma consultants' study that became the guide for downtown revitalization, Blandford said. The state program was revived this year.
"We've used this program to its max," Blandford said. "For small towns, we're one of the top users of the program. It's worked extremely well for Westminster."
Last year, the city also spent almost $24,000 from Program Open Space to acquire a 2,500- square-foot plot of grass in the lane. At the time, Thomas B. Beyard, the city director of planning and public works, called it "the last piece of open space in the area."