For years, Sykesville has envisioned improvements to Main Street, and with help from the State Highway Administration, the town might get the funding to make those amenities happen.
The town is willing to take over ownership and maintenance of the street, which is part of Route 851, a state highway. But only after the state makes about $1 million in enhancements the town cannot afford.
"SHA would upgrade the street to town standards before handing it over," Mayor Jonathan S. Herman said.
Highway and town officials met recently to discuss funding for widening sidewalks, installing more lighting, improving entrances and adding green spaces, all upgrades that could make downtown more inviting to residents and visitors. Funding would come from a beautification program the state established to make town thoroughfares and their surroundings more attractive to pedestrians and motorists.
Last week, Herman appointed a 15-member task force of volunteers to work with the state to develop a Main Street plan during the next several months.
"I was thrilled when I saw the applicants, who are a real cross-section of residents," Herman said. "It was like being in a poker game and being dealt a full house. Obviously, many people thought this was a worthwhile project."
Councilman Michael Burgoyne will be chairman of the committee, which will also include Councilman Charlie Mullins and Mark Rychwalski from the Historic District Commission.
They will meet at least once a month with Connie Higgins, Judy Klein, Bill Nichols, Ron Jackson, Michael Rice, David Ashman, Gene Gillespie, Nicki Swan, Ed Cinkole, Russ Vreeland, Patrick Komiske and Dan Stinchcomb, the other members.
"I wanted a large number, and I hope everybody is able to stick with this," Herman said. "This is an enormous opportunity to do something for our town."
The road transfer, if approved by SHA, would consist of a one-mile segment of the road from the bridge spanning the Patapsco River north to Springfield Avenue and Route 32.
Revitalization plans typically take from eight months to a year to develop, the mayor said. He urged the committee to work for unanimity.
"Consensus is the critical element in this effort," Herman said. "If there is a fight, SHA won't stay involved."