Maryland Heritage Areas Authority tours Washington County

Maryland Heritage Areas Authority tours Washington County

Members of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area Steering Committee joined with Board Members of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, and recently toured parts of Washington County. The familiarization tour group included City of Hagerstown Administrator Bruce Zimmerman. The CVB's Tom Riford who serves on the steering committee, Hagerstown Director of Planning Kathy Mahrer, Washington County Planner Steve Goodrich, Historian Dennis Frye, Barbara Beverungen, manager of the Carroll County Office of Tourism, and John Fieseler, Executive Director Tourism Council of Frederick County.
Carroll County, Frederick County, and Washington County, plus two dozen cities and towns in central and western Maryland have formed the "Heart of the Civil War" Heritage Area. Sites in these counties were visited by the group during the familiarization tour. When certified by the State of Maryland, the new Heritage Area will be the 11th certified heritage area in Maryland. The designation will make local jurisdictions eligible for a variety of grants to boost tourism and historic preservation. Once the area is fully certified, probably in July, grants will be available to local governments, organizations, businesses and individuals for marketing materials, preservation projects and new construction. Local governments, businesses and nonprofit agencies can apply for matching grants. They can also qualify for tax incentives to rehabilitate nonhistoric buildings with a tourism use.
The multi-step process to create the heritage area actually got under way several years ago. The project includes an extensive area and history, and the heritage area has had a complicated approval process. A 211-page planning document has been circulated to all 29 local governments for endorsement, which included public hearings regarding how each jurisdiction would need to amend its comprehensive plan. Some of the grants that have been applied for, through the new heritage area program, include projects in Hagerstown, Boonsboro, and the Pry House Field Hospital Museum. Currently, the heritage area is online: www.heartofthecivilwar.org