CUMBERLAND — Officials say additional funding sources for proposed renovations of the downtown pedestrian mall should materialize over the next 18 months.
Paul Kelly, executive director of the Cumberland Economic Development Corp., gave an update on the project — officially named the Baltimore Street Redevelopment Project — at Monday’s public meeting of the CEDC at Allegany College of Maryland.
The CEDC has roughly $2.5 million secured for the project, which is estimated to cost between $5 million and $7.4 million. Plans include replacing underground utilities, restoring Baltimore Street with a one-way thoroughfare running from Mechanic Street to George Street and redesigning aesthetics.
The project is not expected to begin before 2020. So far, CEDC has secured $2 million from the Maryland State Highway Administration Transportation Alternatives Program. An additional $500,000 is expected in federal Appalachian Regional Commission grant funding.
Kelly explained how he hopes to secure the additional money needed over the next 18 to 24 months. He said the state TAP funding may be increased.
“I’m working with SHA to figure out how they apportion certain things,” Kelly said. “Was this all the eligible costs our project has? So there is a chance we will receive more money from that particular award. In anticipation, what I did last month, I filed another TAP application for a new funding year; then we have a chance to receive additional funding in the next fiscal cycle.”
Kelly said he is also looking for funding through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Community Legacy Program.
“We filled an application for Community Legacy for $1.5 million,” said Kelly. “They came for a site visit. They asked if they can fund it in cycles like $500,000 per year,” said Kelly. “It is working its way through the system and I’m optimistic about that.”
Kelly said he may secure additional ARC monies as well.
“We had increased the ARC money from $250,000 now to $500,000,” he said. “I’m optimistic we can put in an additional application and I’m hopeful we will get more funding from ARC.”
Kelly said more federal funding may be secured through the Tri-County Council, which accesses federal funding programs.
In addition, Kelly said the city of Cumberland is also likely to contribute since many grants require local matching funds.
Currently, Kelly is working on securing a contract for the above ground design plan.
“I’ve been negotiating a contract for a streetscape design that (will show) what Baltimore Street is going to look like and feel like,” said Kelly.
He said the Cochran Studio, a Frederick-based design firm, is a likely candidate.
“They’ve (Cochran) done previous work for the (Allegany) Arts Council to do planning and design work,” said Kelly. “It makes a lot of sense to hire Cochran Studios so that way we don’t have to pay for a duplication of work that has already been done. They have worked in many places (in Maryland) and done wonderful work.”
The Cochran Studio has 25 years of design experience and has completed design projects throughout Maryland. However, city officials will have to decide if Cochran can be contracted, a sole source procurement, or will the project have to go to bid.
Kelly said the design plans would be primarily funded by the Downtown Development Commission.
In other news concerning the downtown, Kelly said plans are moving forward to install high-speed broadband lines.
“The Maryland Broadband Cooperative is moving forward plans with installing conduit and fiber and they provide us technical support as to how to wire up all the buildings downtown so we will have a gigabyte downtown,” said Kelly. “I’m also negotiating with the co-op so they can complete the circle from the top of Baltimore Street over to where it stops at Polk Street … so we will have a downtown complete circle. I’m told that is critically important because it will allow you to have redundancies in terms of a circle and it will allow you to have branches going off to other places.”