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Square revitalization moves forward

Richard D. L. Fulton

(8/5) The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and Maryland Department of Planning (DHCD) announced that they have approved Emmitsburg’s application for a Sustainable Communities designation.

In addition, the town was awarded a matching grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority to conduct a potential re-design for the Town Square.

A Sustainable Community Area is one that has been identified by a municipality that has a specific local area in need of revitalization, and has created a comprehensive strategy to encourage and guide local investment, according to the DHCD.

Town Planner Susan Cipperly announced the approval of Emmitsburg’s application at the July 16 meeting of the town Board of Commissioners.

Emmitsburg’s application was premised on the town’s proposed work "to revitalize their town square and Main Street by increasing opportunities for commercial space, showcasing their history, and improving town walkability," according to the DHCD.

Emmitsburg is recognized as a National Historic District, as well as a Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area.

Being approved as a Sustainable Community will allow Emmitsburg to partner with the state and other entities to pursue grants and other funding sources to help finance proposed projects related to the stated revitalization goals.

In addition, Cipperly reported, the town was awarded a 50-50 matching grant by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA).

The MHAA will be providing $28,000, which the town will match using funds, staff hours, and in-kind use of town resources, such as meeting space, for the program, the planner noted.

The money will be used to hire a consultant to execute a proposed design for upgrading the Town Square.

The town will be seeking public input on what community residents would like to see in the Square, "such as more green elements, benches, some historic signage."

"In the grant request, we predicted the (design) process would be completed by this December," Cipperly stated following the meeting.

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