Downtown Leonardtown could soon see some improvements as town officials work to keep the area attractive and convenient.
The Leonardtown town council at their meeting on Tuesday received updates regarding public improvements projects.
Lachelle McKay, town administrator, said the town has been “working really hard” with property owners on the Leonardtown alley project. The project, as outlined in the town’s Downtown Strategic Plan, is meant to create a new way to experience downtown by connecting amenities and destinations through an enhanced alley network that links the square, hotel, public parking lot and Fenwick Street. The allies would include furniture and art installations.
There are six different owners in the network, McKay said, and “all of them have signed agreements,” required by some grants, to make sure those allies stay as a public benefit and are used for at least 20 years. She mentioned “everyone is really on board with the project.”
She said the town has “costed out all the improvements” by submitting several grant applications, including a $125,000 community legacy grant, a $225,000 community parks and playground grant and a $5,000 Maryland Heritage Area grant.
“We are going to pursue other Maryland State Art Council grants to install art once it’s designed,” McKay noted. “We have to see how that goes … there have been a lot of cuts in grant funding because of COVID-19 but we really need to figure out what kind of funds we will get.”
The town set aside some funding for downtown plan improvements this budget year, as well, she said, but added “fingers crossed we qualify for the grants.”
In other news, while McKay said the town is wrapping up the last of the facade improvement grant applications from businesses for this fiscal year, there are two outstanding which will soon be finalized.
The facade improvement grant program is meant to provide assistance to building or business owners interested in improving the exterior of their buildings and shops, spurring economic development and revitalization in the targeted area of downtown Leonardtown. The program offers grants up to $5,000 with a 1-to-1 match.
McKay told Southern Maryland News this week that the town previously had a total of 14 projects, including improvements at Good Earth, The North End Gallery, The Slice House, the Vanderwal building across from town hall and Social Coffeehouse, among several others. She said at this point most of the work is done.
The administrator mentioned the town has $25,000 to disperse, half of what they were able to receive in the past.
As of Tuesday afternoon, she said they had received two applications already but were still expecting more before the Thursday deadline. The facade committee will meet next Friday to review those applications, make a recommendation and then send them to the state for review.
“Those turned out really fantastic,” Mary Slade, council member, said. “Seeing some of the improvements that are out there, I’m so glad we were able to help provide that for some of these buildings.”