Hancock to receive $170K for Program Open Space projects

by Geoff Fox

The Town of Hancock will be receiving $170,000 in funds from the Maryland Department of Public Works as part of the Program Open Space and see two projects – one in town and one in Kirkwood Park – be the beneficiary of those funds.

The Department of Public Works awarded the town $100,000 for the Western Maryland Rail Trail Plaza and parking improvements in an area that would encompass Church Street to Williams Street.

This would see a pavilion built on a concrete pad in the municipal parking lot and include water and lights, bike racks, picnic tables, benches, and the municipal parking lot will be repaved.

Town Manager Joe Gilbert said there will also be new guardrails installed and a historic rail signal.

“It’s a spruce up of that entire area along the trail between, again, Church Street and Williams Street,” he said.

Once the weather lets up, Gilbert said bids will go out and contracts signed to get the project started.

The estimated start time is probably March with an estimated timeframe of a couple weeks to complete.

As for the paving of the parking lot, Gilbert wasn’t sure how long it takes to pave such a lot but acknowledged the municipal lot would be affected for a short period of time in early spring.

The town was also awarded $70,000 for drainage improvements in Kirkwood Park. This covers the engineering, design and permitting needed for grading and excavation. There will be additional funding requested for construction.

Gilbert said the project at Kirkwood would consist of drainage, culverts, guardrails, and some excavation at the park before it can go to the next stages

“Just like everything else that you’re going to build, you got to prepare the ground first,” he said.

This is the first of two projects Gilbert has submitted for Kirkwood Park.

The second phase, which has been submitted, would see a $86,000 grant.

“That should get us through construction,” he said. The money for that project has not been awarded yet, he said.

The project at Kirkwood would be the entire park.

One example he gave was the old metal cables that run along the side of the road being removed and replaced with wooden rails to match those along the Rail Trail.

This would give the town a more historic and outdoorsy feel to everything.

Gilbert said once everything is complete, it will be functionally better.

The water will run off better and mitigate against flooding. It will also allow for new feature construction in the future when they come up.

Gilbert said there is a town match aspect for both projects and Hancock’s match would be an in-kind match which would see town crews can organically do and not cost the town any money.

In all, Gilbert submitted a total of five projects, one of which is still pending.

These two projects were submitted for POS funding almost a year and half ago.

Gilbert said Hancock is a work in progress with the boat ramp project starting later this year, these two projects, and a potential five more POS funded projects.

Some of those projects include a trail extension from the Western Maryland Rail Trail to Widmeyer Park, new lights at Gerber Field, and new basketball courts.

“This is just the beginning,” Gilbert said. “This isn’t a one-off project. This is a continual work in progress.”