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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
The Olney Theatre Center for the Arts will receive the lion’s share of more than $3 million of state bond initiative funding secured by the District 14 lawmakers in Annapolis.
The Olney Theatre is slated to receive $2.5 million over the next two years for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction and capital equipping of site improvements and an Artists’ Village, according to the state.
Other local organizations will get state money for capital projects they hope to accomplish.
“All in all, we brought back a lot of money for our district, about $3,165,000,” said State Sen. Craig Zucker (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville.
“Our district continue to bring back taxpayer dollars to the district for these community treasures that are so vital to our community,” he said. “It couldn’t happen without Del. Anne Kaiser, Del. Eric Luedtke and Del. Pam Queen and myself, the strong community support around these projects and the support from our colleagues.”
Zucker said that all of the funds go to the non-profit arm of the organizations and each of the organizations is required to match the funding.
“It’s an honor to be able to bring back these resources for our community treasures,” he said.
Zucker added that the legislation was able to provide these resources while maintaining a balanced budget — and without raising taxes.
“The budget also includes $500 million for statewide school construction,” he said. “This guarantees that Montgomery County will get more than we got last year, which was approximately $60 million.”
As of The Greater Olney News press time on March 27, the state’s Capital Budget was on its way to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) and Zucker was confident it would be signed.
This year, the bond process was slightly different than in past years.
Previously, legislation had to be drafted for each bond bill, and although none of the bills were actually passed, the amended projects were put into the capital budget.
“It was a waste of paper, staff and time,” Zucker said. “This year, the bond initiatives were drafted as amendments, and if accepted were amended into the capital budget. The end result is the same and it saved the state $100,000.”
Zucker said the District 14 delegation worked with Hogan to include $500,000 for the theater in his original budget and then worked to protect it.
An additional $2 million for the Olney Theatre is earmarked for Fiscal Year 2021.
“The governor can cut it, but then it is up to District 14 to get it put back,” Zucker said.
He said putting money aside for the next fiscal year’s budget is not done very often.
“It speaks to the importance of the project and demonstrates the commitment of the entire Maryland General Assembly,” he said.
Olney Theatre Center Managing Director Deborah Ellinghaus said the theater is grateful to the leadership of the state delegation.
“We are grateful that they know and believe that the Olney Theatre is the cornerstone of the community,” she said. “Their investment in our infrastructure will allow us to serve our community in the best possible way.”
Ellinghaus said the theater is planning to make a “big announcement” in the fall about its specific plans, but said plans will include upgrades to the original theater, the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab and other support structures.
“The original theatre is a big piece of our plans,” she said. “We want to make it a more accessible, usable and pleasing place for our community.”
The Town of Brookeville will receive $100,000 for design, construction, repair, renovation and site improvements to Market Street.
That is huge news for the tiny town, which has for years sought ways to make improvements to the road surface, curbs and sidewalks.
“Sen. Zucker was once again able to come to Brookeville’s assistance,” Town Commission president Sue Daley said. “We will now be able to fix Market Street and would have never been able to do that on our own. The state funding will be instrumental in making the road passable now and in the future, because it will be done correctly.”
Other organizations within District 14 receiving funding from state bond initiatives:
Brooke Grove Retirement Village – $100,000 for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site improvement and capital equipping of a historic structure on its campus.
Dolores R. Miller Park in Laytonsville – $15,000 for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site improvement and capital equipping of the new park, including landscaping and improvements to the grounds.
Sandy Spring Friends House Retirement Community – $100,000 for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site improvement and capital equipping of a new assisted living building at the Friends House Retirement Community.
Columbia Local Park in Burtonsville – $200,000 for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site improvement and capital equipping of Columbia Local Park.
Guru Nanak Foundation of America Health Clinic in Fairland – $100,000 for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site improvement and capital equipping of the Guru Nanak Foundation of America free health clinic facility.
Sandy Spring Museum – $50,000 for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site improvement and capital equipping of the exterior of the Sandy Spring Museum building and grounds, including landscaping.
The funding for the Olney Theatre Center does not require a match because it is a straight grant. However, the theater is raising the private money it needs through community support to match the state’s commitment.
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