Revitalizing Reisterstown’s Main Street has been an uphill battle from the start, but a little help from Baltimore County could put the area on the map.
Baltimore County’s Department of Planning has assigned an employee to act as a part-time Main Street manager to help Reisterstown work its way towards Main Street Maryland status. It is the first arrangement of its kind for the county.
“We’re going to try to approach as if we’re an approved town and try to follow the guidelines the other towns are following throughout the state of Maryland,” said Glenn Barnes, president of the Reisterstown Improvement Association (RIA).
Baltimore County has assigned Amy Mantay, western sector coordinator at the Department of Planning, to help the RIA navigate the process for two years.
“We’re just now getting started,” she said. Were Reisterstown’s Main Street to earn acceptance into the program, it would be Baltimore County second town in the program, which currently includes Dundalk.
“It’s a way to bolster small businesses and create synergy,” Mantay said about the program.
The RIA is tasked with spreading the word about the program and finding volunteers for five committees: organization, promotion, design, economic restructuring and clean, safe and green.
To earn the designation, Main Street must meet several requirements, including having a program manager for at least three years, having a board of directors, providing a budget for at least three years and having a defined central business district with historic commercial buildings.
Barnes is excited about the promotional aspect of being part of Main Street Maryland and the grant opportunities it would open up.
“There are a lot of possibilities ahead of us that we could benefit from,” Barnes said.
In addition to the official designation, the program offers towns on-site visits and design assistance, training on commercial revitalization, education about grants and loans and several other benefits.
Both Barnes and Mantay agree that Reisterstown should be ready to benefit from the development happening in Owings Mills and become a destination for Stevenson University students.
Mantay noted that commercial revitalization often only takes a few new businesses to really get going, using Hampden in Baltimore as an example.
“It really takes a little bit of interest to get that spark,” she said.