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.
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.
Mount St. Mary’s President Tim Trainor said the money would be used to build 12,000 square feet of additional space and collaborative learning areas to Knott Academic Center, which is home to the Richard J. Bolte Sr. School of Business and is the largest academic building on campus.
Trainor testified to a budget subcommittee — along with several other university presidents — on the need for funding, which was originally earmarked at $2.4 million. The sum grew by $500,000 at each Mount St. Mary’s and Hood College before the capital budget passed.
“I was confident we would get something. I wasn’t sure how much,” Trainor said.
A donor to the school has pledged an additional $3 million to the expansion and renovation project, and the first $1 million will be received by the school next month, Trainor said. This will allow the school to begin construction this summer, with an estimated competition in 2½ to three years. Knott Academic Center will remain open throughout the renovations as it is the campus’s largest office and teaching space.
Frederick County Public Schools will receive a much smaller investment in its infrastructure in the coming fiscal year.
The school system qualified for $929,972 of funding through the state’s Aging Schools Program. A spokesman for FCPS could not be reached on Monday for comment on how or at what schools the nearly $1 million would be spent.
The remainder of local funds in the capital budget for fiscal 2020 will go to two major addiction recovery centers.
Hogan promised $500,000 to help establish a detox center in Frederick County, which legislators kept fully funded in the budget.
County Executive Jan Gardner and Sheriff Chuck Jenkins announced their intent last year to convert the county’s currently underutilized work release center on Marcies Choice Lane as a location to establish such a facility. Maryland Treatment Centers Inc., which operates Mountain Manor Treatment Center in Emmitsburg, was later selected to run the new detox center.
The state also provided funding for a separate recovery housing project run by Crossroads Freedom Center. Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick and Carroll) was a vocal supporter of the project and initially requested $155,000 to get the program started.
The final capital budget allocates $100,000 to the recovery housing project.