While it was a formal meeting, parts of the Main Street kickoff last week felt more like a rally for Reisterstown.
"You really do have a terrific momentum here," said Amy Seitz, Main Street Maryland Coordinator at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
The Main Street Committee held a public kickoff on Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church to rally Reisterstown residents and business owners. The committee aims to earn Main Street Maryland designation—a program that offers benefits like on-site visits and design assistance, training on commercial revitalization, education about grants and loans and more.
About 80 people, including Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Councilman Todd Huff and Councilwoman Vicki Almond attended the meeting. Amy Mantay, acting Main Street manager, and Seitz presented an overview of the program. Since its inception in 1998, the program has seen great success throughout the state.
Almost $10 million has been invested in 275 projects, $7 million of which was private investment. Just in the last year, 174 new businesses and 740 new jobs were created.
Main Street Maryland towns include Annapolis, Dundalk, Westminster and 20 others.
Several committee members spoke about their subcommittees, offering insight into the finer issues of the Main Street effort.
"We don’t have to reinvent Main Street," said Irwin Kramer, a Main Street attorney and head of the design subcommittee. "We can accentuate what we already have here."
His subcommittee is working on improving the historic design of Main Street. The other subcommittees include:
- Promotion: Lead by Calvin Reter, this group aims to sell Main Street and get more people involved in the process.
- Organization: Lead by Mary Molinaro, this group is working on outreach to businesses, property owners and other community organizations.
- Economic Restructuring: Lead by Paul Davalos from Farmers and Merchants Bank, this group aims to keep Main Street business booming, bring new businesses in and look for financing opportunities to help businesses expand.
- Clean Safe and Green: Lead by Dan Carey from Shaneybrook Plumbing, this group is working with local police to get police on bikes for Main Street and establish a Citizens on Patrol program.
After the presentations, those at the meeting were given maps of Main Street to look at and discuss various issues and share ideas at their tables.
Some tables discussed the lack of public parking, while others talked about identifying crime trends in the area for the Citizens on Patrol program.
"As soon as the lights go down, it looks like Main Street is closed," said Jen Biddinger, manager at Java Mammas. The dim lighting is an issue Baltimore County is working on in conjunction with the Reisterstown Improvement Association.
While the Main Street designation works as a commercial revitalization program, the historic aspect sets it apart from other similar programs, Seitz said.
"You’re really trying to preserve a community character," Seitz said.
The Main Street Committee meets every Monday morning at Reter’s Crab House in Reisterstown at 10 a.m.
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