Reisterstown Keeps Eye on Prize

September 4, 2014
BY Marc Shapiro
Annual festival, streetscaping happens, as town awaits Main Street designation

Nearly four years after the Reisterstown Improvement Association (RIA) formed, the Northwest Baltimore County town is making headway on revitalizing its often-overlooked Main Street area.

With the help of a dedicated county employee, Amy Mantay, as town manager, the Main Street Committee formed and set up Reisterstown to apply for Maryland Main Street status, which the group did this past spring. As Mantay’s two-year term approaches its end this fall, the town appears to be in better shape than it was when she arrived.

This summer saw the second installment of the RIA’s Music on Main Street series, which draws hundreds to Franklin Middle School for summer concerts, a farmers’ market and the dedication of $2 million by the Maryland State Highway Administration to streetscape projects. This weekend marks the 29th annual Reisterstown Festival.

“We’re still working to get things accomplished,” said RIA President Glenn Barnes.

The most recent victory came in the form of $2 million in roadway and sidewalk improvements and community enhancements. The money was announced in May at a news conference with Delegate Adrienne Jones, the speaker pro tem for the Maryland House of Delegates, and Maryland Transportation Secretary Jim Smith; at the ceremony, the pair also announced $762,000 for improvements in the Liberty Road corridor.

“These transportation enhancements and upgrades will make the corridors along Liberty Road in Randallstown and Main Street in Reisterstown safer for drivers and pedestrians and will enhance the beauty and charm in these thriving communities,” Jones said in a statement.

Phase 1 focuses on Stocksdale Road to Woodley Avenue, which is the part of Main Street that curves just north of the Chartley Shopping Center. This part of the project includes pavement resurfacing and remarking, reconstruction of sidewalks, curbs, gutters and driveway ramps as well as new pedestrian lights similar to the lantern-style lamps farther north on Main Street. Construction will begin after the Reisterstown Festival.

Phase 2 will bring the same improvements from Woodley Avenue to Glyndon Avenue and should begin in spring 2015.

In June, the state highway authority painted new pavement markings on Main Street, starting at the south end at Woodley Avenue and ending on the north end at MD-30 (Hanover Pike), to separate the driving lanes from the on-street parking areas.

A sign welcoming travelers to historic Reisterstown will also be installed in the southern entrance to the area, Barnes said.

As roadway and pedestrian façade improvements are made, commercial revitalization remains at the top of the agenda for Main Street advocates. The town’s new “sustainable community” designation could translate to some help in the area. In June, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Maryland Planning Department announced the designation for Reisterstown, which qualifies the town to apply for state funds on commercial revitalization, small business finance, business retention and attraction and home ownership encouragement.

More funding and resources could also come to Reisterstown in the near future via a Maryland Main Street designation. The program, which has a list of specific criteria Reisterstown has mostly met through the Main Street Committee, includes on-site visits and design assistance, commercial revitalization training and grants and loans education.

A hurdle to achieving that status, Barnes said, is that Reisterstown doesn’t have the required town manager, which many other Maryland Main Street locales have by virtue of being incorporated towns.

“We don’t think they’re going to allow that, so what we’re trying to do, we’ve sent letters out to large corporations and foundations hoping to get them to agree to sponsor our projects on Main Street and possibly our town manager,” he said. “There’s always a way if you look around.”

Barnes and his organization will be spreading the word about Main Street revitalization at this weekend’s Reisterstown Festival, which begins Saturday at 9 a.m. with the parade and runs through Sunday evening. The festival features more than 100 vendors, a large area for kids’ activities, a beer garden with a 6-foot TV that will be showing the Orioles game on Saturday and the Ravens game on Sunday, a car show, a stunt bicyclist and an eclectic variety of music including the Cris Jacobs Band, Carey Ziegler’s Expensive Hobby and Dean Drawford and the Dunn’s River Band.

Sherri Brogan, this year’s festival co-chair and a regular at Music on Main Street, sees the festival as a way for people to be with their community and get to know their neighbors.

“I think anytime you do an event like Music on Main Street, you’re bringing the community together,” she said. “I think that’s very special.”

With so much on the horizon for Reisterstown and all the nearby development in Owings Mills, Brogan and Barnes are feeling good about the town’s future.

“With the Metro Centre [at Owings Mills] expanding and Foundry Row and all that, there’s going to be a lot of people looking at this area; big restaurants and chain stores, they may want to be nearby, and we are nearby,” Barnes said.

mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

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