Lower Shore, Md. – The Coastal Association of REALTORS® (CAR), in partnership with the Maryland Department of Planning’s Lower Eastern Shore Regional Office, has received a $5,000 Placemaking grant from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to help make Smith Island a better place to live and visit by transforming an unused space into a vibrant public space for the community to gather and enjoy.

The grant is intended to help REALTOR® associations partner with others to plan, organize, implement, and maintain placemaking projects in their communities.

The funds will be used to transform a vacant lot located on Smith Island Road in the Village of Ewell. The lot is owned by Ewell Fire Department and Recreation Center, Inc., which has given permission for this site to be developed as a pocket park. The park will contain picnic tables, benches, a bike rack, trash receptacles, mulch, trees, shrubs, grasses, and an information kiosk. Upon its completion, the park will be maintained by citizen’s group and nonprofit Smith Island United and other residents.

In addition to the $5,000 provided by NAR, CAR will contribute $300 and the Somerset County Recreation and Parks Department will contribute $200 in cash, plus the kiosk, which is valued at $300. Smith Island United will provide boat transportation to REALTORS® and other volunteers to travel to the island to deliver and install the park amenities.

“REALTORS® live, work and volunteer in their communities and take immense pride in working to improve them,” said CAR President Don Bailey. “Placemaking can help foster healthier, more social and economically viable communities. It creates places where people feel a strong stake in their neighborhoods and are committed to making things better. This grant allows us to address areas in our communities that are in need of enhancement and revitalization and create a place where friends and neighbors can come together.”

The need for an outdoor gathering space on Smith Island was voiced by residents during community meetings and discussions which resulted in the Smith Island Vision Plan. The Maryland Department of Planning contacted CAR in pursuit of the Placemaking grant, which was used last year to construct a community art chalkboard in Downtown Berlin.

“Planning is pleased to be party of this Placemaking project on Smith Island,” said Secretary of Planning Wendi Peters. “It was my pleasure to meet with the hard working people of Smith Island, understand the vision they have for their community, and work with them to make it happen. This improvement will benefit residents and visitors to Smith Island alike.”

Placemaking grants are awarded to local and state REALTOR® associations to help them and their members create new public spaces and destinations in a community, like turning a parking spot into a people spot (parklet) or a vacant lot into a pocket park. REALTOR® associations and their REALTOR® members are actively engaged in the community and know the neighborhoods and the properties that would benefit most from these placemaking projects.

“As the area becomes more attractive and welcoming, nearby properties may also increase in value,” Bailey said. “This is also a great attraction to boost Smith Island’s tourism industry. Many people visit this amazing island, which is a true testament to the heritage of our state and the Eastern Shore. It will be great for tourists and residents alike to have a place where they can park their bikes, have a picnic, relax on a bench, and more. We are very excited for this project and we thank the Maryland Department of Planning for bringing this to us and for working so hard to ensure we had all the information needed for the application process.”

The project is expected to be completed by summer of this year.

For more information about CAR, visit www.coastalrealtors.org. To find out more about the NAR Placemaking Program, visit www.realtoractioncenter.org/placemaking.

More about Coastal Association of REALTORS®

Coastal Association of REALTORS® is the leading local advocacy group in the real estate industry on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. Coastal REALTORS® works in partnership with its members to promote home ownership and preserve, protect, and advocate private property rights. The organization supports 1,000 REALTORS® who serve Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.

For more information on Coastal REALTORS®, visit www.coastalrealtors.org. The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark unique to real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Rayne / 410-641-4409/ sarah@coastalrealtors.org