ANNAPOLIS — Matching grant money from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority is coming to Perryville and Port Deposit to help both Cecil County towns with important public safety projects.
The grants, totaling $22,600, were part of $5 million in funds awarded to support heritage tourism projects and activities, which draw visitors to and expand economic development and tourism-related job creation.
“As chair of the MHAA, I am able to witness the commitment and dedication to the places and the people that have made our history,” Secretary of Planning Robert McCord said in a prepared statement. “As a student of history, it is a great honor to help these areas thrive and make their stories known to broader audiences.”
As part of one of Maryland’s 13 certified heritage areas, both towns qualified to apply.
Perryville received $15,100 in grant funding to install solar lighting in Lower Ferry Park.
“We will use the funds to install 50 pathway lights along the sidewalk and at least two pole lights,” said Amanda Hickman, town planning and zoning coordinator, on Friday.
Hickman said Perryville’s matching money could include in-kind, which means the town’s public works department would perform a portion of the installation work.
“The actual installation will be early next spring,” she said, noting that will give time to bid out the project.
“We have to get updated quotes,” she said of the cost of the project. “We worked with two vendors to get ideas.”
Port Deposit will spend its $7,500 MHAA grant, plus matching funds, on phase two of the restoration of the Tome Steps next to town hall.
“This will provide us with construction specifications,” said Vicky Rinkerman, town administrator. “A lot of construction has to be done and the specs have to be correct.”
The historic granite staircase, which connects South Main Street with High Street, is decaying at a rapid pace with stone separation and splitting of the concrete. The railings — which are not original — are also loose.
Rinkerman said KCI Engineering will determine how best to make the staircase historically accurate, but also safe for pedestrian traffic.
Built in 1905 along with Adams Hall, which was then the gymnasium for the Jacob Tome Institute, a public school for the town’s children, Rinkerman said there is still debate over what material was used for that original ornate hand railing seen in historical photos.
“We want them to go back to the original white,” she said of the material believed to be limestone. “The granite will stay. It needs to be repointed.”
Adams Hall eventually became Port Deposit Town Hall.
“Heritage tourism is one of the building blocks of our overall tourism strategy in Maryland,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a prepared statement. “By preserving these historic, natural, and cultural treasures, we attract visitors to our state, and ensure that these unique communities continue to grow and thrive well into the future.”
Also included in the grant awards was Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway. Along with a $100,000 management grant, LSHG also was given a $25,000 pot of money to make block grants available to organizations and towns along the trail system, which also includes Perryville and Port Deposit.
“What this allows us to do is grant smaller grants,” said Brigitte Carty, LSHG executive director, referring to it as “pass-through money.”
Carty said the museum, run by the Port Deposit Heritage Corporation, is planning to do archival work of its collection and a display kiosk.
“These are great projects,” she said, adding that smaller projects such as these are hard to obtain funding, especially when pursuing competitive monies. “We can also help them apply for MHAA money.”