CUMBERLAND, Md. – The Cumberland Economic Development Corp. is seeking $2.1 million in grants for six recommended uses within the city limits.
The two largest requests of the total were $750,000 to help with the possible relocation of the Union rescue mission and $700,000 for a public art program.
The news of the grant applications was disclosed during a mayor and city council business meeting held at City Hall on Wednesday. Grant applications must come from the $20 million in US federal Rescue Plan Act grants given to the city this summer.
“We asked the CEDC to provide us with a list of potential economic development projects in the city,” said Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss. “What we do, we will decide, select and choose who we think will be the best long-term use of the money for the city.”
The $750,000 for the Union rescue mission, according to CEDC director Matt Miller, is to help the mission secure and renovate a new location. Mission officials said they had outgrown their current facilities as demands for their services increased.
The mission is currently located at 16 Queen City Pavement, along the CSX railroad. The CDCE has identified the current mission site as a prime location for future economic development.
“This is an effort that we’ve had for almost three years…to find them a suitable location and then help them settle in comfortably,” Miller said. “They want to move…they were at full capacity before COVID, now they’ve increased (demand) with COVID.”
City officials have yet to determine a new location for the Union rescue mission, although 11 Columbia St. has been mentioned as a possible site. Morriss said the city has not yet committed to relocation plans for the mission.
Other grant requests include $700,000 for a public art plan, $300,000 for improvements to the former Memorial Hospital site, $250,000 to help expand child care children, $100,000 to furnish downtown outdoor restaurants and $18,500 to help defray the cost of a strategic economic development plan.
Miller said the proposed $700,000 allocation for public art is in partnership with the Allegany Arts Council.
“Public art is an important part of the success of the upcoming renovations planned for the downtown mall,” Miller said. “It will be an opportunity to kind of help put seed money into a long-term public art plan.”
The funds, according to the plan, would be used for engineering, marketing and planning as well as site preparation, public engagement and establishing legal agreements with site owners.
Miller said the $300,000 for the former Memorial Hospital land in South Cumberland would be used to upgrade infrastructure, including water and sewer lines.
“It’s to help encourage residential development on this site,” he said. “There are costs that a developer would incur. We are focused on getting market priced housing for this area.
The $250,000 requested for child care, Miller said, could help parents get back to work.
“It would allow (daycares) to expand their services accordingly to accommodate more children or upgrade their outdoor playground equipment to adapt to post-COVID,” Miller said.
“They’ve been quite strained like many industries,” Miller said. “The child care industry has a big effect on our workforce and that’s why we got involved to try to get people back to work. The lack of adequate childcare services is the basis of this. People can’t find daycare for their children, so they can’t go to work.
The $100,000 for restaurants offering al fresco dining will help those businesses get quality outdoor furniture and hopefully get them even with each other.