Main Streets in Maryland Soldering on Through Tough Economic Times

From The Gazette

While some downtowns have been deserted by merchants and consumers in favor of malls and shopping centers, many in Maryland continue to see an influx of shoppers seeking an experience they can’t find at Target or TGI Friday’s.

The state has 23 municipalities — from Cumberland to Bel Air and from Frederick to Annapolis and Cambridge — designated as “Main Street Communities” by Main Street Maryland, which was created in 1998 by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

The designation is part of a national “Main Street” network dedicated to improving the economic health and desirability of downtowns, according to Carol Gilbert, assistant secretary for the division of neighborhood revitalization with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

In addition to creating volunteer committees to focus on several areas in a downtown, including design, organization, promotion, economic restructuring and making a downtown area “clean, safe and green,” Main Street Maryland communities also have been successful in receiving funding and grants, Gilbert said.

article continues on the Gazette

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2 responses to “Main Streets in Maryland Soldering on Through Tough Economic Times

  1. I’m new to the area. I hope people are being realistic about the situation in Elkton and working on the obvious problems I see when I drive through. It’s not the kind of place right now that is going to get people there. You wouldn’t feel safe walking around and the streets and buildings don’t look as if they’re being care for. If Elkton could address some of those problems, perhaps they could turn to marketing the town for merchants and arts. I tried to stopping at that new cafe a couple of times in the evening, but they were closed both times.

  2. Newcomer: Elkton’s Main Street certainly has been growing challenges that are obvious. Hopefully those tasked with breathing life back into the downtown are realistic about the situation. At lunchtime today, I was having a discussion with a person who is familiar with Bel Air. It’s Main Street is in an entirely different position and if you were to visit there, you’d walk away with a different assessment. Our discussion went along the lines of what was different. There are a few immediatley obvious answers, so many of the public emloyee office clusters that bring vitality to an old downtown are right there within a couple of blocks. The library, the Board of Education, the County Adminsitrative Offices, Sheriff’s Office, and the Court system. Elkton gradually lost all those anchors, some as recent as 2 years ago, when nearly 200 county office workers moved to the Delaware State Line. That difference was really noticed.

    Wish I could advise more about your primary question, about practical strategies and what’s going on and how the public agencies are addressing the opportunities, but Someone Noticed doesn’t have any additional information that.

    The Cecil Whig did a front page series of articles in April 2009, about the fight to Save Main Street and what officials are trying to do to revive the town. At that time, Commissioner Jablonski told the paper that they were trying to bring the town back as an entertainment district and that downtown Elkton was “doing better thatn strip malls and other commercial plazas.” You might want to visit the public library and see the issue of April 3, 2009, if you want more info.

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