Per­ryville aims to re­ju­ve­nate down­town area

Joins state pro­gram to foster de­vel­op­ment

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ ce­cil­whig. com

— With an eye on ob­tain­ing “Main Street” sta­tus, town of­fi­cials are work­ing with the Mary­land Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment on ac­quir­ing an af­fil­i­ate sta­tus first.

Main Street Mary­land is a pro­gram that helps des-

PER­RYVILLE

ig­nated towns with pro­mo­tion, de­vel­op­ment, train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion geared to­ward eco­nomic sta­bil­ity. The 28 towns in the pro­gram so far, in­clud­ing Elkton, have a mix of his­tory, shopping, ar­chi­tec­ture, en­ter­tain­ment and events.

Co­or­di­na­tor Amy Seitz said some towns, such as Aberdeen, Snow Hill, Rock Hall and Perr yville, that want that des­ig­na­tion — and the state as­sis­tance that comes with mem­ber­ship — need more guid­ance to get there.

“They were in­ter­ested in the Main Street Mary­land pro­gram,” Seitz said, but the town has no iden­ti­fi­able busi­ness district in the orig­i­nal down­town. “Town lead­ers had the in­sight to look for tools to grow down­town.”

This is where they found the Main Street Af­fil­i­ate pro­gram, which is equiv­a­lent to a farm team for the Main Street pro­gram it­self.

“This is for com­mu­ni­ties that are in­ter­ested, but aren’t quite ready for the

Main Street des­ig­na­tion,” Seitz ex­plained Thurs­day.

Com­ing be­fore the mayor and com­mis­sion­ers at the work ses­sion Tues­day night, Mar y Ann Skilling, town plan­ner, said there needs to be an ef­for t to de­fine a busi­ness district.

“We don’t re­ally have a Main Street right now. We used to,” Skilling said.

Those who have called Perr yville home for more than 50 years re­call a bustling area cen­tered around Broad Street with a gro­cery store, drug store, bank, hard­ware store and other com­merce. With the state’s ex­per­tise, Skilling said Perr yville could have that long- awaited re­nais­sance.

“They are go­ing to help us get back to hav­ing a Main Street,” she said.

That’s good news to Al Afghani, owner of the Per­ryville Sports Bar on Broad Street near Aiken Av­enue.

“We need to find out why busi­nesses left and bring them back,” Afghani said in a quiet lunch hour din­ing room. “The town is dead.”

Afghani opened his busi­ness in Au­gust and has strug­gled to in­crease pa­tron­age.

“The town has to sup­port us. The com­mu­nity has to sup­port us,” he said, sug­gest­ing the town in­clude pho­tos of busi­nesses on its web­site.

“I want a sign to at­tract peo­ple in,” he said, not­ing he wanted a 4- by- 5- foot sign, which is the same size a neigh­bor­ing busi­ness uses. “I can only have a 2- by- 3- foot sign.”

Diane Howard opened The Groom­ing Shop in the shopping plaza at the cor­ner of Aiken and Broad in March. While she works on grow­ing her own client base, Howard con­sid­ered other types of busi­nesses that could do well in Perr yville.

“We need a pet store,” she said, point­ing to a va­cant com­mer­cial busi­ness across the street. “Maybe an an­tique store?”

Think­ing about the pop­u­la­tion from Perry Point Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Howard thought of another po­ten­tial busi­ness.

“A cof­fee shop would be great. Vets drink a lot of cof­fee,” she said, also fig­ur­ing a cof­fee shop would com­ple­ment her store and the bar­ber shop.

Seitz said the af­fil­i­ate pro­gram would push the town to­ward strate­gies that have worked else­where, fo­cus­ing on what of­fi­cials, busi­nesses and the com­mu­nity iden­tify as needs for a thriv­ing busi­ness cen­ter.

“They have a great team and great ideas, but it’s not go­ing to be an easy, overnight thing,” she cau­tioned.

Afghani said more could be ac­com­plished if the town would work with busi­nesses.

“It’s a nice old town with lots of nice build­ings and the wa­ter,” he said. “The town has to do some­thing to pro­mote it.”

“We’ll work with them, with their his­tory and tra­di­tions ... to make it a walk­a­ble, pedes­trian- friendly com­mu­nity,” Seitz said. “Per­haps they could cre­ate busi­ness in­cen­tives, fast track per­mit­ting.”

Mayor Jim Eber­hardt liked the idea of DHCD sup­port.

“If we’re ever go­ing to get a Main Street des­ig­na­tion, we need to know what we need to get us there,” Eber­hardt said.

Skilling sug­gested in the fu­ture that the town should form a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion solely to guide eco­nomic re­de­vel­op­ment in Perr yville.

“If this gets us back to where we want to be, I sup­port it,” Com­mis­sioner Alan Fox said.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Al Afghani, owner of Per­ryville Sports Bar and Grille on Broad Street, said town of­fi­cials need to do more to sup­port busi­nesses in town and to at­tract new busi­nesses and pa­trons.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

What was once the Per­ryville Out­reach Cen­ter is now a va­cant store­front at the cor­ner of Aiken Av­enue and Broad Street. Town of­fi­cials hope that by en­rolling in the Mary­land Main Street Af­fil­i­ate pro­gram, they can ar­rive at a strat­egy to boost eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Diane Howard opened The Groom­ing Shop at the Per­ryville Shoppes on Aiken Av­enue in March. Howard welcomes the town’s plans to get help from Mary­land to im­prove the down­town busi­ness district.

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