Es­sex streetscaping project and Mount Carmel school re­ceive grant fund­ing

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­

Last month, sev­eral Es­sex projects re­ceived $250,000 to­tal through the Com­mu­nity Le­gacy pro­gram, which is man­aged by the Mary­land De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment, for beau­ti­fi­ca­tion and ren­o­va­tion projects in 2019. MOUNT CARMEL

Two sep­a­rate grants of $125,000 will be used to fund space en­hance­ments at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel School cam­pus. The first be­ing im­prove­ments to the ag­ing Kath­leen Sipes Com­mu­nity Hall, in­clud­ing new floor­ing, light­ing, and ceil­ings. The other project would up­date the school’s ath­letic field.

Chrissy Hedglin, the Di­rec­tor of De­vel­op­ment for Mount Carmel and grant writer, ex­plained that in­creas­ing the dura­bil­ity and us­abil­ity of the field will hope­fully make it a more sought af­ter lo­ca­tion for re­gional and lo­cal sport­ing events.

“Im­prove­ments to these spa­ces has long been a part of strate­gic plans. How­ever, rais­ing the nec­es­sary cap­i­tal funds is dif­fi­cult as we have al­ways pri­or­i­tized the learn­ing of our stu­dents and af­ford­abil­ity of our school above cap­i­tal im­prove­ments. Upon learn­ing of the ex­is­tence of the Com­mu­nity Le­gacy Grants, we saw an op­por­tu­nity to make them re­al­ity,” said Hedglin. “While these projects do not di­rectly in­vest in class­rooms, they pro­vide places for our com­mu­nity to meet and build.

Places for peo­ple to gather and en­gage form the foun­da­tion of thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ties.”

There hasn’t been any sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal im­prove­ment done to the school, which was founded in 1927, since 1963.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel School will host an Open House for grades PreK-12 on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 15 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. ES­SEX STREETSCAPING Our Lady of Mount Carmel part­nered with the Ch­e­sa­peake Gate­way Cham­ber of Com­merce to so­licit the Com­mu­nity Le­gacy Grants. The cham­ber also re­ceived $100,000 for streetscaping projects at the Es­sex busi­ness cor­ri­dor on East­ern Blvd.

Since the sum­mer, the Cham­ber has been work­ing with the Neigh­bor­hood De­sign Cen­ter or­ga­ni­za­tion to gather com­mu­nity feed­back on the im­prove­ments res­i­dents would most like to see to this main street through a booth at Es­sex Day 2018 and sev­eral work­shops at the Es­sex li­brary.

“We’ve been get­ting re­ally help­ful in­put from the com­mu­nity at each stage,” said Sharon Kihn, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Ch­e­sa­peake Gate­way Cham­ber. “We’re work­ing closely with the county and state to to make sure ev­ery­thing is in line with what peo­ple are in­ter­ested in and want to see. So far, ev­ery­body has been pleased with what they’ve seen.”

The Neigh­bor­hood De­sign Cen­ter will present their find­ings and rec­om­mended uses for the money to the com­mu­nity at the Es­sex Tree Light­ing this De­cem­ber.

Laura Wheaton, the project’s man­ager from Neigh­bor­hood De­sign Cen­ter, said that the next step will be ad­di­tional com­mu­nity meet­ings in Jan­uar y and Fe­bru­ary 2019 to dis­cuss the more spe­cific pro­pos­als and to present a list of other cap­i­tal im­prove­ment projects they rec­om­mend.

“The point of all this is to see the ideal vi­sion for down­town Es­sex,” said Wheaton, “We’re look­ing at what im­prove­ments can be done to reach that vi­sion and an­a­lyz­ing all the in­put and the broad stroke fea­si­bil­ity so that we can move for­ward.”

This is all part of a larger, more ex­ten­sive re­vi­tal­iza­tion that the Cham­ber, along with the East­ern Bal­ti­more County Task Force sub-com­mit­tee, has been work­ing to­wards. Kihn said their cur­rent pri­or­ity has been a fa­cade im­prove­ment pro­gram that would up­date the look of lo­cal busi­nesses along the cor­ri­dor. She said that area has so many va­can­cies and im­prov­ing the ones al­ready there will in­crease at­ten­tion and in­ter­est in the area.

Kihn ex­plains it will be com­pleted in two phases. This first phase tack­les qual­ity of life is­sues such as get­ting rids of over­grown trees, new trash cans, and more ef­fi­cient ways con­trol trash and rats.

In the past few months, the or­ga­ni­za­tion had used a $10,000 Com­mer­cial Re­vi­tal­iza­tion grant to fix the flower pots in down­town Es­sex and to im­prove the brick­work and in­stall new wooden benches at the bus stop.

Kihn said these im­prove­ments have made an im­pact. Res­i­dents that were once skep­ti­cal are start­ing to see to ben­e­fits of Es­sex’s re­birth.

“I think peo­ple are start­ing to see things change and all that we can ac­com­plish with vol­un­teers and fund­ing.”

The Com­mu­nity Le­gacy pro­gram aims to help lo­cal gov­ern­ments and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions with fund­ing for projects aimed at strength­en­ing com­mu­ni­ties through ac­tiv­i­ties such as busi­ness re­ten­tion and at­trac­tion, en­cour­ag­ing home­own­er­ship and com­mer­cial re­vi­tal­iza­tion.

“Com­mu­nity Le­gacy grants often serve as a cat­a­lyst to lever­age ad­di­tional pub­lic, pri­vate, and non­profit in­vest­ment for these vi­tal projects,” said Mary­land De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Ken­neth C. Holt. “We will con­tinue to part­ner with lo­cal stake­hold­ers and sup­port their ef­forts to en­hance the eco­nomic vi­tal­ity, beauty, cul­ture, and liv­abil­ity of Mary­land’s neigh­bor­hoods.”

The Ch­e­sa­peake Gate­way Cham­ber of Com­merce booth at the Es­sex Day 2018 gath­er­ing com­mu­nity in­put on pos­si­ble im­prove­ment projects. This feed­back will be used to de­sign a streetscaping mas­ter­plan to pre­sented in De­cem­ber by the Neigh­bor­hood De­sign Cen­ter.

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