Emmitsburg officials hope a new state designation and a $28,000 grant will lead to a revitalized downtown square.
The sustainable community designation announced by the state Department of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Planning puts the town in line for additional grants.
The $28,000 grant awarded by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority will be used to get the revitalization effort started, according to Sue Cipperly, town planner.
“It’s a terrific opportunity for the town,” Mayor Don Briggs said of the grant and designation. “The square is the soul of the town, and we want to launch a redevelopment there.”
The goal, according to Briggs, is to make downtown more attractive and pedestrian friendly.
The sustainable communities designation is a “foot in the door” for Emmitsburg to receive other financial assistance, Cipperly said.
Updating the square and the historic district along Main Street and parts of South Seton Avenue will be the focus, according to Cipperly.
The grant will be used to develop a focus group of residents and hire a design professional to come up with suggestions for updating downtown Emmitsburg.
“They will look at the physical characteristics and see if they can incorporate people’s wishes into the existing space,” Cipperly said. “This will be something we can build on over the next few years.”
The ultimate goal is to attract new businesses, Briggs said.
Pam and Bruno Sielaff moved their shop — St. Philomena Catholic Books & Gifts and Holy Grounds Cafe — to the square a year ago.
Business is going strong, Pam Sielaff said Friday, but she was excited about the potential for improvements.
“The square and the town need a face-lift,” she said. “Anytime you try to make an improvement, hopefully you bring more revenue into the area. … Anything to boost the economy is going to do well and attract more visitors and be a benefit for the community.”