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Program Provides $5 Million for Outdoor Recreation Statewide in Fiscal 2022

The Board of Public Works today approved the last of 31 community parks and playground projects for this fiscal year, totaling $5 million in grants for new and upgraded outdoor facilities in communities across Maryland.

Governor Larry Hogan’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget included funding for these projects, through which the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provides flexible grants to municipalities to rehabilitate, expand, or improve existing parks, create new parks, or purchase and install playground equipment.

“The Community Parks and Playgrounds Program funds important investments across Maryland,” said Maryland DNR Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. “These projects create greater access to outdoor recreation, including nature trails, accessible playgrounds, skate parks, splash pads, and gathering spaces that connect us with our community and our natural surroundings.”

Woodland Park Playground Replacement Phase 2 was included in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget and has been approved by Maryland’s Board of Public Works for $160,000 in funding.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird stated, “We sincerely appreciate the support from the Community Parks and Playgrounds program and look forward to the completion of this amazing playground planned for Woodland Park.”

James Rada, Jr.

The signs on the doors of businesses across the area are turning from closed to open as the COVID-19 restrictions in Maryland and Frederick County loosen. Even businesses that were open because they were deemed essential are expanding their operations.

On June 11, the Carriage House Inn in Emmitsburg opened with 32 outdoor seats so that customers could eat at the restaurant for the first time in months. That is, as long as it didn’t rain.

“This is so outside of the way we like to operate,” said Manager Kristy Shriner. “We like to exceed our customers’ expectations of service and this will make it hard to do.”

However, as the restrictions loosened, the restaurant would also offer indoor seating at 50 percent of capacity the following day.

Sherry Myers, owner of Kountry Kitchen in Thurmont was going through the steps of having outdoor seating when the restrictions allowed indoor seating.

“We were really worried the first two weeks after things closed down, but the community has been our biggest supporters,” she said.

With hospitalizations in Maryland under 1,000, and other metrics improving, Governor Larry Hogan lifted some restrictions on June 12 and 19.

On June 12, restaurants could allow indoor seating at 50 percent capacity with social distancing and other health considerations implemented.  Also, outdoor amusements, such as rides and miniature golf could reopen as long as they followed various health rules. Pools could operate at 50 percent capacity while following health rules.

On June 19, gyms, martial arts studio and dance studios could reopen at 50 percent capacity if health guidelines were followed. Casinos, arcades, and malls could reopen. School buildings could reopen for small groups and childcare could have a maximum of 15 people in any one room.

Christina Royer, owner of Here’s Clyde’s in Thurmont, reopened on May 29 with stylists wearing facemasks, curtains between wash stations, hair dryers more spread out, and a sanitizing station. The stylists had also all completed a course on how to properly clean and sanitize their stations.

“It was busy at first,” Royer said. “We were working 10 to 12-hour days, sometimes 14 hours trying to get caught up.”

Although the Fort Ritchie Community Center was shut down during the health crisis, some fitness classes were offered outside when the weather was appropriate.

“Our outdoor classes were all well attended,” said Director Buck Browning. “They were generally all at capacity.”

While the center was closed, Browning made plans for precautions that would be taken when the interior rooms were allowed to open. Grant money paid for Plexiglas shields between pieces of equipment in the fitness center.

However, even when the center was allowed to reopen, the damage done during the closure will require a long recovery. Besides lost dues for three months, many summer camps were canceled, and those that will run will do so with few attendees.

Shriner said the Carriage House staff also made use of their down time and planned new menu offerings, but she is eager to be back at full operations.

“Everyone has been so wonderful,” Shriner said. “It’s nice to hear how important we are to them because they are important to us.”

Myers agreed, saying, “We miss our customers.”

Although things are taking on a sense of normalcy once again, businesses are still facing restrictions that hinder their ability to do business and may force some to close permanently. So, if you have the opportunity, buy from a local business. They have supported their communities in the past, and now they need their communities to support them.

Christina Royer, of Here’s Clyde’s Family Hair Care in Thurmont, is shown washing a client’s hair at with COVID restrictions in place.

Outdoor yoga classes at the Fort Ritchie Community Center allowed the center to offer fitness classes to its clients during the time when indoor fitness classes were closed due to COVID restrictions.