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Capital budget funds $9.1 million worth of history, infrastructure and addiction recovery (MSMU & Hood College)

The Frederick News-Post

April 29, 2019


The state plans to invest $9.1 million in Frederick County projects in the coming fiscal year.

While the overall sticker price of the 16 projects the General Assembly has agreed to support is important, the unique impact each of the projects will ultimately have on Frederick County is perhaps more noteworthy. For instance, Heritage Frederick — the recipient of the smallest local grant award — intends to make big changes on a small budget.

“Our goal is to preserve and interpret the history of Frederick County from the past all the way up to the present,” said Executive Director Mary Boswell.

Heritage Frederick was awarded $25,000 by the state to continue repairs to its museum and archive space at 24 E. Church St., which was built in 1824. The beautiful spiral staircase — a centerpiece to the museum and the building — is in need of repair as two deep cracks have formed in the wooden railing, and other repairs are needed to the walls and ceiling, she said. The building is open to the public and routinely hosts community events.

It is the third consecutive year that Heritage Frederick has applied for and received a $25,000 state grants for repairs to its building. The projects had to be spread across multiple years, because $25,000 was the most the organization could match dollar for dollar through foundation grants and private donations annually. The organization has a total annual operating budget of $350,000, Boswell said.

Past funding has had a substantial impact on the building, allowing the marble steps and two-story porch outside to be restored and a ramp to be added. Heritage Frederick is still working to secure approvals from the state to access its second year funds to fix moisture problems on the first floor and in the basement.

Other organizations such as Federated Charities, however, see a state grant as a one-time opportunity to access funding for infrastructure repairs. The organization operates in a building constructed in 1820 in downtown Frederick.

Executive Director Elin Ross previously told The News-Post the $75,000 it was awarded by the state in the capital budget for fiscal 2020 would be used to begin $1.5 million to $2 million worth of repairs needed in the next five years at its 2,300-square-foot building, which houses and provides professional services to other county nonprofits.

Federated Charities expects to spend approximately $200,000 on repairs this year.

In all, $1.05 million is being devoted to community projects in Frederick County by the state in the capital budget.

Frederick County will receive $400,000 to build a new south county YMCA as was promised by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in his original budget. A $250,000 grant to the ROOT Business Innovation Center — run collaboratively by the county’s Office of Economic Development and multiple business and technology development partners — will also be fully funded as was promised in the governor’s budget.

The latter will allow the business and technology collaborative to finish the final phase of its construction at its innovation center at 118 N. Market St.

“We believe that by bringing technology transfer programs to this location, we will spur small-business growth and enhance the entrepreneur successes in Frederick County. We really want the trifecta of business services from the local government — Frederick County government — to the state of Maryland Department of Commerce and our federal tech transfer partners all working together to help push forward business growth,” said Helen Propheter, the county’s economic development director.

A $250,000 grant for stage renovations to New Spire Arts was zeroed out of the budget by the General Assembly. This comes on the heels of the arts organization firing staff and announcing plans to form a “strategic partnership” with the YMCA to offer some of its curriculum.

Education investment

The lion’s share of local money provided by the state to Frederick County institutions, however, will be directed at education.

Hood College and Mount St. Mary’s University will each receive $2.9 million from the Maryland Independent College and University Association to construct and renovate academic buildings on their campuses.