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Thurmont to seek national
 historic district recognition

(10/22) Thurmont is looking to capitalize on its past to help preserve its future.

The town has received a state grant to hire a consultant who will help town representatives write an application for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder said that achieving recognition from the National Trust would open up additional opportunities to help revitalize Thurmont.

"It's a very prestigious designation and it makes us eligible for some federal programs," Grinder said. "That's how Frederick received a lot of the money for its Main Street Program."

The National Trust is a private, non-profit organization that works to save historic places and revitalize communities. It assists community-based development corporations and preservation organization to rebuild neighborhoods with loan and grant programs. Businesses can also benefit through the National Trust's National Main Street Program.

"What it means is that we're eligible for many more grants, low-interest loans, training for property owners to help make houses and businesses more attractive," said Town Commissioner Bill Blakeslee.

Chris Ryre has helped the town on behalf of the state to receive some of its designations. He pointed out that any building over 50 years old in the district would be eligible to receive tax credits for improvements of around 20 percent. Only a couple of Maryland Main Street communities don't have the National Register District designation from the National Trust.

Grinder said she hopes the application is ready by next August, but she also cautions that, on average, it takes two submissions to the National Trust to receive the recognition.

"This misconception people have is that businesses will be regulated in their store design," Ryre said. "While that can happen, it would only apply to businesses that choose to take the tax credits. The program is voluntary."

A second piece of the $16,625 grant also allows the town to hire a consultant to conduct a market study.

"Market studies scare people when they hear that because they think it means growth," Grinder said. "It gives us information for grants and information we can use to attract businesses. It's something good for Thurmont to use. It's like a third eye."

She expects that the same company that helped Thurmont win its Main Street designation will be the one to conduct the market study, which could be completed next spring.

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