Matt Candland

Matt was born and raised in Montgomery County but moved to Sykesville, MD, because his father was very involved in Carroll County.

Transcription

INTERVIEWER: Good morning. It is Wednesday, uh. July 21st. And it is my pleasure to be at the Sykesville town hall.

MATT CANDLAND: Called the Townhouse.

INTERVIEWER: Townhouse.

MATT CANDLAND: It’s our town home.

INTERVIEWER: And I’m interviewing Mr Matt Candland, who is the town manager.

MATT CANDLAND: Uh huh.

INTERVIEWER: And uh, Matt, tell me a little bit about, about yourself. How long have you been in the county?

MATT CANDLAND: I’ve uh, I’ve lived in Sykesville going on uh 16 years, a little over 15 years.

INTERVIEWER: Mm hmm. And um, when you first came here um, what was the county like? What was Sykesville like?

MATT CANDLAND: Well I still remember– let me back up a little bit just kind of– I grew up in Montgomery County right outside of Washington DC. And my father was a real estate uh, agent and real estate appraiser, and, and in later years really focused more on real estate appraisal more than the uh real estate sales.

And he used to do many of his appraisals in Carroll county.

INTERVIEWER: No kidding?

MATT CANDLAND: And so early on what Carroll county meant to me was it was the place where my dad worked and it was the place that always got snow and we didn’t.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: Because they– I always used to watch the news to see with the weather if we were going to get out of school or not. And it always seemed like Carroll county was getting snow when we weren’t getting it. But, so my father was very familiar with Carroll county. And so when I uh got the job here in Sykesville, he was very familiar with it. And what he even said to me then was you know, Sykesville has hit on some rough times. And when I first got here, Sykesville was just starting to turn. Um, there had been quite a few individuals that had done great things in the town that started kind of turning the– yeah, but it was still, there was still quite a bit of vacancy. And there were still uh, still um, still depressed a bit.

And I still remember when I came here to interview, I had some free time so I drove up route 32, and I remember it was at night time and it was just black. It was dark. And all way up to 26, there was the Exxon on the right, there was not– there was a little Crown station to the left, kitty-corner.

INTERVIEWER: Right

MATT CANDLAND: There was an old dilap– dilapidated buildings on the left hand side, and there was nothing on the right hand corner. And so I was looking for just a place to grab a bite to eat. And I didn’t make a right-hand turn, I kept going straight and there was nothing on the north side. It was just– it was black. And I thought where’s the commercial development here? Now if I had turned right and had gone down Liberty Road, I would have seen some.

INTERVIEWER: Sure.

MATT CANDLAND: But it still would have been limited. You know, the Walmart wasn’t here, and it was still– the whole place where Burger King– that was Grimm’s Ford.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: And uh, the Martin shopping center wasn’t there yet. So none of that was there. There was some shopping. Um, Carolltown was still the main place for people to do their shopping, although it was starting to decline around then. Um, so the biggest thing I remember, my first impression of– of South Carroll was that it didn’t have hardly any– it didn’t have hardly any commercial development, and that was both bad and good. Good because it was very pleasant, bad because you’d have to drive far to, to go places.

But I was intrigued when I first arrived at the potential of the town of Sykesville. The downtown, essentially just what you said, it’s got all of the ingredients, um, it’s just a matter of, of uh, making it happen. So anyway, that was my first introduction to– to Sykesville.

INTERVIEWER: I can’t think of a more charming town and there’s so much history associated with Sykesville. Can you talk a little bit about that?

MATT CANDLAND: Well, yeah. As, as many folks know, Sykesville grew up as a railroad town, and it’s the second stop, well if you count Relay it’s the third stop, but it’s the second stop behind Elica City. And so it has a rich railroad history that uh goes back to the beginnings of railroading in America. The first railroad in America was the B&O, first commercial railroad was the, was the B&O, and so from the earliest times the town of Sykesville was involved in railroading.

And it– later on it became a resort town. By virtue of the railroad coming out, the wealthier folks in Baltimore who didn’t want to be there in the summer, with the open sewers and other kinds of problems, they came out on the railroad to this resort town. And there uh were a number of uh, uh, little cottages, they were called Brown’s cottages. Governor Brown, before he became governor, had built a lot of these little cottages for the folks to come out and stay. It was connected with a boardwalk and it was a little resort.

INTERVIEWER: No kidding?

MATT CANDLAND: Yeah. A lot of those homes are still here, but it’s hard to tell because of all of the additions which ones were which. But um, so at that point Sykesville was a retreat. It was a place where people could escaped because of its natural beauty and also its close proximity to Baltimore.

INTERVIEWER: Now about what period of time was this?

MATT CANDLAND: Uh, probably from the late 1800s. Because in the early 1800’s– 1820s, 1830s when the railroad start, this was a mill town. And Syke’s mill, James Sykes’s mill became Sykesville and it was primarily a mill town, rural, agrarian surrounding area. And then by the late 1800s you start seeing the railroads start really picking up, really becoming an economic engine. And uh, it becomes uh even more of a railroad town and a– and a resort.

And then, Spring Mill hospital comes–

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: –in the 1890s. Then we become kind of a company town to Springfield Hospital Center. And– and then a lot changes in the town. The most change in this town occurred late 1800s to early 1900s. That’s when all a lot of the buildings went up.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: So I was going to say before, it’s interesting because most people originally came to Sykesville because it was close enough to Baltimore and its beautiful setting. And that’s what brings people back still.

INTERVIEWER: Sure.

MATT CANDLAND: We’re still close enough to Columbia and Baltimore and yet it’s very pastoral still and it’s still beautiful.

INTERVIEWER: Well, it’s gorgeous.

MATT CANDLAND: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: It’s like, it’s like when you drive down Main Street it’s like stepping back in time. I mean literally it’s like going back 50 years and seeing what it used to be like. Because really nothing’s fundamentally changed. It’s still the same.

MATT CANDLAND: Well the town has done a good job for the most part, when I say the town, the people and the government have done a good job of preserving their buildings because what you’re really describing when you say, you know, when you go down to Main Street, is the built environment.

INTERVIEWER: Exactly

MATT CANDLAND: The built environment has been very well preserved and, for the most part, property do a good job of maintaining their buildings and that built environment creates an atmosphere. It creates a– you know, Winston Churchill said, we build our buildings– or we shape our buildings or our buildings shape us. And it really does, it creates an environment and the scale is a pedestrian scale. So it’s a comfortable place to be in. It’s not a big shopping center with a huge parking lot in front of it.

INTERVIEWER: Right

MATT CANDLAND: It’s a human scale that is pedestrian friendly and um, so as you said earlier, it has all the ingredients, we’ve just got to try and create the environment where the marketplace has an interesting coming.

INTERVIEWER: Yes. Matt, what do you see as the future of Sykesville if you could wave a magic wand and you could say in 10 years this is what I want to see here.

MATT CANDLAND: Well first I think our greatest asset is our built environment, and– and our geography. On the one hand, the geography kind of constrains how we can develop because we’re in a bowl.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: You know, we’re in a little ville. So we really can’t expand much. So that’s a constraint, but we have this beautiful river that goes through the town, we have this wonderful built environment. So if I could wave a magic wand, I’d want to keep all of that.

INTERVIEWER: Sure

MATT CANDLAND: And then in-fill it with compatible and complimentary kinds of new development. If you go up the street, in fact there’s a good example of that, where we built the new– well, the developer build a new building where the old junkyard was, a good example of the kind of infill. And the other thing is– is– is for those uses to– to kind of fill in the retail uses, the restaurant uses. We’re beginning to see some of those kinds of things. So I wouldn’t change a lot about Sykesville, I would just slightly enhance it a little bit.

INTERVIEWER: Fantastic. Now, we don’t have a uh– you used to have I guess hotels in the town.

MATT CANDLAND: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: OK does any of that exist anymore?

MATT CANDLAND: Well at one time Sykesville had the largest hotel in Maryland outside of Baltimore.

INTERVIEWER: No kidding?

MATT CANDLAND: In the 1830s and 1840s, um, it was called Sykes Hotel. James Sykes had built a four or five story stone hotel.

INTERVIEWER: Wow.

MATT CANDLAND: Very substantial. But in 1868 flood, which was a flood of biblical proportions– and I’ll mention that in a minute because it’s kind of a fun story– now it’s fun, back then of course it wasn’t.

INTERVIEWER: Sure.

MATT CANDLAND: But the flood came and wiped the whole thing out. But in 1868 imaging the Patapsco River with mill after mill after mill all along the river. Well, where you have a river, you have a dam.

INTERVIEWER: Absolute.

MATT CANDLAND: Because the dam had to build the water up and they you had a raise that kind of diverted the water. So you have all these dams along the river. Well in 1968 they had a flood where it was reported that 18 inches of rain fell in an hour.

INTERVIEWER: Wow.

MATT CANDLAND: I asked a geol– a hydrologist if that was even possible. She said yeah it is possible, but it’s, it’s extremely rare. Whether it was 18 inches or 10 inches, it was a lot of rain. So all this rain falls all at once, so you have a flash flood coming down the Patapsco River. So it comes down, floods busts that dam.

INTERVIEWER: Sure.

MATT CANDLAND: Comes down, busts– so what you end up having, and the way they described in the newspaper, is you have like a 20 or 30 foot wall of water coming down through the valley–

INTERVIEWER: Full of rubble.

MATT CANDLAND: Full of rubble, and breaking each dam as it goes, and maybe even getting a little bigger each time. So that thing comes through Sykesville and literally annihilates everything in its path, along with the five story stone hotel.

INTERVIEWER: Unbelievable.

MATT CANDLAND: Just knocked it out. And so um, from that point on, most of the development, new development, from that point on, went to the north side of the river, where it had the less– the lower likelihood of future floods. So that was a very– was a defining moment in town history.

INTERVIEWER: Absolutely.

MATT CANDLAND: And you can only imagine being in that– that really is biblical proportions, this big wall of water coming down and wiping the whole town out.

INTERVIEWER: And many of those mills I imagine never rebuilt.

MATT CANDLAND: I don’t think so. I don’t think Sykes Mill ever did after that.

INTERVIEWER: Now, now you’ve also had a substantial fire [INAUDIBLE]

MATT CANDLAND: Yeah, we’ve have a couple fires. The biggest fire we had was down here um, on what they call McDonald block, were those cluster of five or six buildings. In the 1930s, we had, we had a fire. And um, interestingly it annihilated the building took– took the whole building out. And that lot remained vacant up until about six or seven years ago where a developer came in and built a new build but patterned it after the old design.

INTERVIEWER: Wonderful.

MATT CANDLAND: So it’s um, not exactly the same but pretty close.

INTERVIEWER: You can tell it’s new but it’s in the same style.

MATT CANDLAND: Exactly. If you go– it’s where Samsara is, that’s a new building. Um, and so did a very nice job. Uh, we’ve had, we have a few fires. Fire has not been one of the biggest enemies in Sykesville, although every community in the 1800s fire was a threat. But I would say the flood was probably the big one. And then uh, and development pressures, frankly. Um, you know, at the turn of the century, we had a boom where you were tearing old buildings down and building new ones. And that could be distrustful on a community.

Uh fortunately, we tore down probably descent buildings and built better ones. Nowadays sometimes we tear down good buildings and build junk, but um, but I think it was generally an improvement for the town when we went through that development spurt.

INTERVIEWER: Matt, talk a little bit about the impact that placing Springfield Hospital Center had on this community.

MATT CANDLAND: It was, it was at first controversial. Um, there were some– and remember, Governor Brown, I forget whether he sold it to the state– I think he sold it to the state while he was a sitting governor. Which of course nowadays would be a big taboo, but at the time was not, you know. So the 1890s occur, they announced they want to build a hospital. Governor Brown owns Springfield, which is one of the most desirable farms um, actually in the country. I think when Patterson owned it back in the early 1800s, it was one of the most desirable pieces around. And he sold it to the state, apparently for a fair price. It wasn’t a uh, it was it was a fair price for the hospital and a fair price for him. And it was controversial.

Some people didn’t want– possib– you know, back then it was an insane asylum.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: You’re going to bring all the–

INTERVIEWER: For lumberjacks.

MATT CANDLAND: Yeah. And, and uh, those kinds of facilities were, by today’s standards, downright barbaric.

INTERVIEWER: Oh yes.

MATT CANDLAND: So why would you want that kind of facility here? So there was opposition. I think as time went on though, um, a lot of folks realized that it had economic benefits, that you had the stability of the state–

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: That meant that employment with the hospital meant stability.

INTERVIEWER: Absolute.

MATT CANDLAND: And so a lot of folks um, moved to Sykesville to work at the hospital. In fact, uh, particularly during the 1930s and ’40s as I understand it, a lot of folks from the south came up from Tennessee, Kentucky, even North Carolina where they were having trouble down there find work. They came up here. And so you have a lot of the old families here that have their roots in uh, in the south, which changed the dynamic.

Before we were probably more of an English and German, and then you get Scots Irish and southern kind of. So it does change, but. So– so Springfield became a vital part of the town um, and it became a symbol of stability and employment. And that occured all the way up until probably the ’70s, 1970s, and then you have deinstitutionalization, which occurs. And that’s that concept where they could st– with newer medications and with treatment plans, you can have a lot of people who normally would be in a hospital, previously in a hospital, can live in the community.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: I think most people would agree that it’s been– the results have been mixed. Some people are doing wonderfully and they’re functioning in society, some people are homeless in Baltimore. So it’s been kind of a mix, but the affect it had on Sykesville was it emptied at the hospital.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: So, so going from a, a hospital 4,000 patients in the ’50s and ’60s, we went– almost overnight– went to a place of 400 or 500.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: And today we’re at 400 or 500 in the hospital. That um– that vacated a lot of buildings, which brings me to an interesting point of probably the — one of the most significant things to happen in Sykesville history is we now have these vacant buildings at Warfield that become the next generation of commercial buildings in the town.

INTERVIEWER: Absolutely. So then Warfield complex is going to– going to make the next transformation of Sykesville.

MATT CANDLAND: Right, right. So we– I would suspect our hope is that you now will have a– in the coming years– you’ll have a new kind of employment base that comes, and that too will transform the town. Um, we, we tend to have a very educated population here, and increasingly affluent, and those are folks who, who are getting tired of a community and they’re in a position where they can influence what their organization does.

So uh, Nexion Health, for instance, the reason that’s there is the CEO lives locally and he didn’t want to commute. So he moved his business here. I think you’re going to see more of that, and we’re kind of banking on that, that Warfield will become a place where locals will want to drive to work as opposed to uh driving to Columbia or Baltimore.

INTERVIEWER: But you know you can’t be the location for Sykesville. I mean it is so close to just about everything. I mean it’s a reasonable commute to Baltimore, reasonable commute– not quite as reasonable– to Washington, very close to Columbia.

MATT CANDLAND: And increasingly we have people that are commuting to Washington. We have a guy on our planning commission that commutes– bless his heart– to northern Virginia. But yeah, the commute to DC is a bit rough, but is doable, and there are increasingly people uh, people doing that. But, but it’s– the, the comment I always get from people who– frequently I get– from people who come out from Annapolis or Baltimore to, to meet here, I didn’t I realize it was close. You know, I planned this much time and it only took me this much time.

INTERVIEWER: Very convenient.

MATT CANDLAND: And um, when there’s no traffic, route 32 is a wonderful road. I-70 is great and it can get you here very quickly.

INTERVIEWER: Very quickly. Matt, what do you see as the future of Sykesville when you’re, when you’re out of here?

MATT CANDLAND: Well, as I kind of alluded to earlier, what I’d, what I’d love to– when I leave as Sykesville’s town manager, what I’d love to be able to have is– is a vibrant downtown where folks can want to go–

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: Not just feel obligated to go, but want to go to eat, to play, to– to recreate, whatever they want to do. I’d love for our residential areas to be pretty much the way they are now where they’re vibrant places with parks and where families and individuals are living and feeling safe and– and feeling proud of the town. I always, I always say when you bring guests or relatives into town, does it pass the, does the town pass the relative test? And that is when you drive into town does the relative say what a nice place, or do they say oh this is a cute place. You know, and you can tell the difference. But are they impressed with the community? Is it a safe place, is it an enjoyable place? That’s, that’s what I would like to, to um, see, and we’re almost there. You know, I don’t think– Sykesville already has a good base, and, and past people have done a great job in creating a wonderful community, so.

INTERVIEWER: And it really does seem like it’s moving in the right direction, Matt.

MATT CANDLAND: I think so.

INTERVIEWER: Just a little more time and, and a little more attention, we’ll be there.

MATT CANDLAND: What I worry about more than Sykesville, is uh, frankly route 26, because route 26 has kind of made a lot of the decisions that has led to places like Glen Burnie and Randallstown, where the strip areas, they don’t age well.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: And they, you know, you have vacant shopping centers. And that worries me for south Carroll more than anything else. But I know the county’s been doing a lot in trying to, to create– encourage new development to build nice buildings. But one of the problems with shopping centers, if it’s not a nice building, when it goes vacant, you don’t really love it, you don’t really like restore the buildings. You tear it down and do something else. If you build buildings that people love, those are the ones that endure.

INTERVIEWER: Sure. And they become part of the community.

MATT CANDLAND: Right. They become symbols of the town. Like what is Baltimore without Camden Yards, what is Baltimore without the Bromo-Seltzer Tower?

INTERVIEWER: Exactly.

MATT CANDLAND: You know, those are buildings that people love and they become symbols.

INTERVIEWER: Mm-hm, sure. Well, Matt, the– I always like conclude these interviews with do you have any advice for young people coming up to date. Take somebody who’s getting out of high school or getting out of college and hasn’t quite decided what they want to do with their life. They may have gone to South Carroll, they may have gone to Liberty. They may be getting ready to go to college or have just completed college and trying to decide what they’re going to do with the rest of their life. What would you encourage them to do?

MATT CANDLAND: Wow.

INTERVIEWER: Well, you’ve been around a while. You’ve, you’ve got some experiences here in the county, you grew up in, in Montgomery County and so you’ve seen a lot of changes in this part of– of Maryland. What would you advise?

MATT CANDLAND: Then you mean with respect to their personal life or if they could live here, in order to live here?

INTERVIEWER: Whichever, you pick.

MATT CANDLAND: Well, I mean I would probably on a personal level, I would give them the same advice I’ve received. And that is try and develop those qualities that make you a good person. You know, learning good trades and skills are very important, so whether it’s college pr going to trade you know, learning– Those are very important but ultimately um, I’ve noticed that people want to be around good and happy people. And so if you’re a good and a happy person, you’ll be attractive to people. And people will want to do business with you, they’ll want to hire you, they’ll want to keep you. And if you’re– you know, the competency is important, but I’ve found, my policy has always been [INAUDIBLE] try to hire happy people. Because generally happy people um, tend to be pleasant to work with and they tend to be positive. So on a personal level, that’s what I recommend.

For those folks who want to live in Carroll County, um, make sure you get a good job because unfortunately Carroll county– or fortunately, whichever way you look at it– is becoming very expensive. And one of the downsides to um, to Carroll County’s success is many of our children will likely not be able to afford to live in Carroll County.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: So if you want to live in Carroll County, um, you’re going to have to make sure you make enough money to do it. I don’t see a lot of multi– family housing going up here. I don’t see a lot of– the days of little starter home ranch are gone.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: Because land has become too valuable.

INTERVIEWER: Sure.

MATT CANDLAND: So um, uh, I think it’s going to be difficult to, to– So I don’t suspect that my kids will end up living in Carroll County, although I’d love to see it. But I think it’s going to be hard for them to do it.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, these are going to be tough times in the next 10 to 20 years.

MATT CANDLAND: And then they’re no– they’re not making any new land.

INTERVIEWER: No. Absolutely not.

MATT CANDLAND: So nationwide as the land gets used up, land is going to continue to be, you know, expensive. So.

INTERVIEWER: Well that

Matt Candland

INTERVIEWER: Good morning. It is Wednesday, uh. July 21st. And it is my pleasure to be at the Sykesville town hall.

MATT CANDLAND: Called the Townhouse.

INTERVIEWER: Townhouse.

MATT CANDLAND: It’s our town home.

INTERVIEWER: And I’m interviewing Mr Matt Candland, who is the town manager.

MATT CANDLAND: Uh huh.

INTERVIEWER: And uh, Matt, tell me a little bit about, about yourself. How long have you been in the county?

MATT CANDLAND: I’ve uh, I’ve lived in Sykesville going on uh 16 years, a little over 15 years.

INTERVIEWER: Mm hmm. And um, when you first came here um, what was the county like? What was Sykesville like?

MATT CANDLAND: Well I still remember– let me back up a little bit just kind of– I grew up in Montgomery County right outside of Washington DC. And my father was a real estate uh, agent and real estate appraiser, and, and in later years really focused more on real estate appraisal more than the uh real estate sales.

And he used to do many of his appraisals in Carroll county.

INTERVIEWER: No kidding?

MATT CANDLAND: And so early on what Carroll county meant to me was it was the place where my dad worked and it was the place that always got snow and we didn’t.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: Because they– I always used to watch the news to see with the weather if we were going to get out of school or not. And it always seemed like Carroll county was getting snow when we weren’t getting it. But, so my father was very familiar with Carroll county. And so when I uh got the job here in Sykesville, he was very familiar with it. And what he even said to me then was you know, Sykesville has hit on some rough times. And when I first got here, Sykesville was just starting to turn. Um, there had been quite a few individuals that had done great things in the town that started kind of turning the– yeah, but it was still, there was still quite a bit of vacancy. And there were still uh, still um, still depressed a bit.

And I still remember when I came here to interview, I had some free time so I drove up route 32, and I remember it was at night time and it was just black. It was dark. And all way up to 26, there was the Exxon on the right, there was not– there was a little Crown station to the left, kitty-corner.

INTERVIEWER: Right

MATT CANDLAND: There was an old dilap– dilapidated buildings on the left hand side, and there was nothing on the right hand corner. And so I was looking for just a place to grab a bite to eat. And I didn’t make a right-hand turn, I kept going straight and there was nothing on the north side. It was just– it was black. And I thought where’s the commercial development here? Now if I had turned right and had gone down Liberty Road, I would have seen some.

INTERVIEWER: Sure.

MATT CANDLAND: But it still would have been limited. You know, the Walmart wasn’t here, and it was still– the whole place where Burger King– that was Grimm’s Ford.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: And uh, the Martin shopping center wasn’t there yet. So none of that was there. There was some shopping. Um, Carolltown was still the main place for people to do their shopping, although it was starting to decline around then. Um, so the biggest thing I remember, my first impression of– of South Carroll was that it didn’t have hardly any– it didn’t have hardly any commercial development, and that was both bad and good. Good because it was very pleasant, bad because you’d have to drive far to, to go places.

But I was intrigued when I first arrived at the potential of the town of Sykesville. The downtown, essentially just what you said, it’s got all of the ingredients, um, it’s just a matter of, of uh, making it happen. So anyway, that was my first introduction to– to Sykesville.

INTERVIEWER: I can’t think of a more charming town and there’s so much history associated with Sykesville. Can you talk a little bit about that?

MATT CANDLAND: Well, yeah. As, as many folks know, Sykesville grew up as a railroad town, and it’s the second stop, well if you count Relay it’s the third stop, but it’s the second stop behind Elica City. And so it has a rich railroad history that uh goes back to the beginnings of railroading in America. The first railroad in America was the B&O, first commercial railroad was the, was the B&O, and so from the earliest times the town of Sykesville was involved in railroading.

And it– later on it became a resort town. By virtue of the railroad coming out, the wealthier folks in Baltimore who didn’t want to be there in the summer, with the open sewers and other kinds of problems, they came out on the railroad to this resort town. And there uh were a number of uh, uh, little cottages, they were called Brown’s cottages. Governor Brown, before he became governor, had built a lot of these little cottages for the folks to come out and stay. It was connected with a boardwalk and it was a little resort.

INTERVIEWER: No kidding?

MATT CANDLAND: Yeah. A lot of those homes are still here, but it’s hard to tell because of all of the additions which ones were which. But um, so at that point Sykesville was a retreat. It was a place where people could escaped because of its natural beauty and also its close proximity to Baltimore.

INTERVIEWER: Now about what period of time was this?

MATT CANDLAND: Uh, probably from the late 1800s. Because in the early 1800’s– 1820s, 1830s when the railroad start, this was a mill town. And Syke’s mill, James Sykes’s mill became Sykesville and it was primarily a mill town, rural, agrarian surrounding area. And then by the late 1800s you start seeing the railroads start really picking up, really becoming an economic engine. And uh, it becomes uh even more of a railroad town and a– and a resort.

And then, Spring Mill hospital comes–

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: –in the 1890s. Then we become kind of a company town to Springfield Hospital Center. And– and then a lot changes in the town. The most change in this town occurred late 1800s to early 1900s. That’s when all a lot of the buildings went up.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: So I was going to say before, it’s interesting because most people originally came to Sykesville because it was close enough to Baltimore and its beautiful setting. And that’s what brings people back still.

INTERVIEWER: Sure.

MATT CANDLAND: We’re still close enough to Columbia and Baltimore and yet it’s very pastoral still and it’s still beautiful.

INTERVIEWER: Well, it’s gorgeous.

MATT CANDLAND: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: It’s like, it’s like when you drive down Main Street it’s like stepping back in time. I mean literally it’s like going back 50 years and seeing what it used to be like. Because really nothing’s fundamentally changed. It’s still the same.

MATT CANDLAND: Well the town has done a good job for the most part, when I say the town, the people and the government have done a good job of preserving their buildings because what you’re really describing when you say, you know, when you go down to Main Street, is the built environment.

INTERVIEWER: Exactly

MATT CANDLAND: The built environment has been very well preserved and, for the most part, property do a good job of maintaining their buildings and that built environment creates an atmosphere. It creates a– you know, Winston Churchill said, we build our buildings– or we shape our buildings or our buildings shape us. And it really does, it creates an environment and the scale is a pedestrian scale. So it’s a comfortable place to be in. It’s not a big shopping center with a huge parking lot in front of it.

INTERVIEWER: Right

MATT CANDLAND: It’s a human scale that is pedestrian friendly and um, so as you said earlier, it has all the ingredients, we’ve just got to try and create the environment where the marketplace has an interesting coming.

INTERVIEWER: Yes. Matt, what do you see as the future of Sykesville if you could wave a magic wand and you could say in 10 years this is what I want to see here.

MATT CANDLAND: Well first I think our greatest asset is our built environment, and– and our geography. On the one hand, the geography kind of constrains how we can develop because we’re in a bowl.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: You know, we’re in a little ville. So we really can’t expand much. So that’s a constraint, but we have this beautiful river that goes through the town, we have this wonderful built environment. So if I could wave a magic wand, I’d want to keep all of that.

INTERVIEWER: Sure

MATT CANDLAND: And then in-fill it with compatible and complimentary kinds of new development. If you go up the street, in fact there’s a good example of that, where we built the new– well, the developer build a new building where the old junkyard was, a good example of the kind of infill. And the other thing is– is– is for those uses to– to kind of fill in the retail uses, the restaurant uses. We’re beginning to see some of those kinds of things. So I wouldn’t change a lot about Sykesville, I would just slightly enhance it a little bit.

INTERVIEWER: Fantastic. Now, we don’t have a uh– you used to have I guess hotels in the town.

MATT CANDLAND: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: OK does any of that exist anymore?

MATT CANDLAND: Well at one time Sykesville had the largest hotel in Maryland outside of Baltimore.

INTERVIEWER: No kidding?

MATT CANDLAND: In the 1830s and 1840s, um, it was called Sykes Hotel. James Sykes had built a four or five story stone hotel.

INTERVIEWER: Wow.

MATT CANDLAND: Very substantial. But in 1868 flood, which was a flood of biblical proportions– and I’ll mention that in a minute because it’s kind of a fun story– now it’s fun, back then of course it wasn’t.

INTERVIEWER: Sure.

MATT CANDLAND: But the flood came and wiped the whole thing out. But in 1868 imaging the Patapsco River with mill after mill after mill all along the river. Well, where you have a river, you have a dam.

INTERVIEWER: Absolute.

MATT CANDLAND: Because the dam had to build the water up and they you had a raise that kind of diverted the water. So you have all these dams along the river. Well in 1968 they had a flood where it was reported that 18 inches of rain fell in an hour.

INTERVIEWER: Wow.

MATT CANDLAND: I asked a geol– a hydrologist if that was even possible. She said yeah it is possible, but it’s, it’s extremely rare. Whether it was 18 inches or 10 inches, it was a lot of rain. So all this rain falls all at once, so you have a flash flood coming down the Patapsco River. So it comes down, floods busts that dam.

INTERVIEWER: Sure.

MATT CANDLAND: Comes down, busts– so what you end up having, and the way they described in the newspaper, is you have like a 20 or 30 foot wall of water coming down through the valley–

INTERVIEWER: Full of rubble.

MATT CANDLAND: Full of rubble, and breaking each dam as it goes, and maybe even getting a little bigger each time. So that thing comes through Sykesville and literally annihilates everything in its path, along with the five story stone hotel.

INTERVIEWER: Unbelievable.

MATT CANDLAND: Just knocked it out. And so um, from that point on, most of the development, new development, from that point on, went to the north side of the river, where it had the less– the lower likelihood of future floods. So that was a very– was a defining moment in town history.

INTERVIEWER: Absolutely.

MATT CANDLAND: And you can only imagine being in that– that really is biblical proportions, this big wall of water coming down and wiping the whole town out.

INTERVIEWER: And many of those mills I imagine never rebuilt.

MATT CANDLAND: I don’t think so. I don’t think Sykes Mill ever did after that.

INTERVIEWER: Now, now you’ve also had a substantial fire [INAUDIBLE]

MATT CANDLAND: Yeah, we’ve have a couple fires. The biggest fire we had was down here um, on what they call McDonald block, were those cluster of five or six buildings. In the 1930s, we had, we had a fire. And um, interestingly it annihilated the building took– took the whole building out. And that lot remained vacant up until about six or seven years ago where a developer came in and built a new build but patterned it after the old design.

INTERVIEWER: Wonderful.

MATT CANDLAND: So it’s um, not exactly the same but pretty close.

INTERVIEWER: You can tell it’s new but it’s in the same style.

MATT CANDLAND: Exactly. If you go– it’s where Samsara is, that’s a new building. Um, and so did a very nice job. Uh, we’ve had, we have a few fires. Fire has not been one of the biggest enemies in Sykesville, although every community in the 1800s fire was a threat. But I would say the flood was probably the big one. And then uh, and development pressures, frankly. Um, you know, at the turn of the century, we had a boom where you were tearing old buildings down and building new ones. And that could be distrustful on a community.

Uh fortunately, we tore down probably descent buildings and built better ones. Nowadays sometimes we tear down good buildings and build junk, but um, but I think it was generally an improvement for the town when we went through that development spurt.

INTERVIEWER: Matt, talk a little bit about the impact that placing Springfield Hospital Center had on this community.

MATT CANDLAND: It was, it was at first controversial. Um, there were some– and remember, Governor Brown, I forget whether he sold it to the state– I think he sold it to the state while he was a sitting governor. Which of course nowadays would be a big taboo, but at the time was not, you know. So the 1890s occur, they announced they want to build a hospital. Governor Brown owns Springfield, which is one of the most desirable farms um, actually in the country. I think when Patterson owned it back in the early 1800s, it was one of the most desirable pieces around. And he sold it to the state, apparently for a fair price. It wasn’t a uh, it was it was a fair price for the hospital and a fair price for him. And it was controversial.

Some people didn’t want– possib– you know, back then it was an insane asylum.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: You’re going to bring all the–

INTERVIEWER: For lumberjacks.

MATT CANDLAND: Yeah. And, and uh, those kinds of facilities were, by today’s standards, downright barbaric.

INTERVIEWER: Oh yes.

MATT CANDLAND: So why would you want that kind of facility here? So there was opposition. I think as time went on though, um, a lot of folks realized that it had economic benefits, that you had the stability of the state–

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: That meant that employment with the hospital meant stability.

INTERVIEWER: Absolute.

MATT CANDLAND: And so a lot of folks um, moved to Sykesville to work at the hospital. In fact, uh, particularly during the 1930s and ’40s as I understand it, a lot of folks from the south came up from Tennessee, Kentucky, even North Carolina where they were having trouble down there find work. They came up here. And so you have a lot of the old families here that have their roots in uh, in the south, which changed the dynamic.

Before we were probably more of an English and German, and then you get Scots Irish and southern kind of. So it does change, but. So– so Springfield became a vital part of the town um, and it became a symbol of stability and employment. And that occured all the way up until probably the ’70s, 1970s, and then you have deinstitutionalization, which occurs. And that’s that concept where they could st– with newer medications and with treatment plans, you can have a lot of people who normally would be in a hospital, previously in a hospital, can live in the community.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: I think most people would agree that it’s been– the results have been mixed. Some people are doing wonderfully and they’re functioning in society, some people are homeless in Baltimore. So it’s been kind of a mix, but the affect it had on Sykesville was it emptied at the hospital.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: So, so going from a, a hospital 4,000 patients in the ’50s and ’60s, we went– almost overnight– went to a place of 400 or 500.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: And today we’re at 400 or 500 in the hospital. That um– that vacated a lot of buildings, which brings me to an interesting point of probably the — one of the most significant things to happen in Sykesville history is we now have these vacant buildings at Warfield that become the next generation of commercial buildings in the town.

INTERVIEWER: Absolutely. So then Warfield complex is going to– going to make the next transformation of Sykesville.

MATT CANDLAND: Right, right. So we– I would suspect our hope is that you now will have a– in the coming years– you’ll have a new kind of employment base that comes, and that too will transform the town. Um, we, we tend to have a very educated population here, and increasingly affluent, and those are folks who, who are getting tired of a community and they’re in a position where they can influence what their organization does.

So uh, Nexion Health, for instance, the reason that’s there is the CEO lives locally and he didn’t want to commute. So he moved his business here. I think you’re going to see more of that, and we’re kind of banking on that, that Warfield will become a place where locals will want to drive to work as opposed to uh driving to Columbia or Baltimore.

INTERVIEWER: But you know you can’t be the location for Sykesville. I mean it is so close to just about everything. I mean it’s a reasonable commute to Baltimore, reasonable commute– not quite as reasonable– to Washington, very close to Columbia.

MATT CANDLAND: And increasingly we have people that are commuting to Washington. We have a guy on our planning commission that commutes– bless his heart– to northern Virginia. But yeah, the commute to DC is a bit rough, but is doable, and there are increasingly people uh, people doing that. But, but it’s– the, the comment I always get from people who– frequently I get– from people who come out from Annapolis or Baltimore to, to meet here, I didn’t I realize it was close. You know, I planned this much time and it only took me this much time.

INTERVIEWER: Very convenient.

MATT CANDLAND: And um, when there’s no traffic, route 32 is a wonderful road. I-70 is great and it can get you here very quickly.

INTERVIEWER: Very quickly. Matt, what do you see as the future of Sykesville when you’re, when you’re out of here?

MATT CANDLAND: Well, as I kind of alluded to earlier, what I’d, what I’d love to– when I leave as Sykesville’s town manager, what I’d love to be able to have is– is a vibrant downtown where folks can want to go–

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: Not just feel obligated to go, but want to go to eat, to play, to– to recreate, whatever they want to do. I’d love for our residential areas to be pretty much the way they are now where they’re vibrant places with parks and where families and individuals are living and feeling safe and– and feeling proud of the town. I always, I always say when you bring guests or relatives into town, does it pass the, does the town pass the relative test? And that is when you drive into town does the relative say what a nice place, or do they say oh this is a cute place. You know, and you can tell the difference. But are they impressed with the community? Is it a safe place, is it an enjoyable place? That’s, that’s what I would like to, to um, see, and we’re almost there. You know, I don’t think– Sykesville already has a good base, and, and past people have done a great job in creating a wonderful community, so.

INTERVIEWER: And it really does seem like it’s moving in the right direction, Matt.

MATT CANDLAND: I think so.

INTERVIEWER: Just a little more time and, and a little more attention, we’ll be there.

MATT CANDLAND: What I worry about more than Sykesville, is uh, frankly route 26, because route 26 has kind of made a lot of the decisions that has led to places like Glen Burnie and Randallstown, where the strip areas, they don’t age well.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: And they, you know, you have vacant shopping centers. And that worries me for south Carroll more than anything else. But I know the county’s been doing a lot in trying to, to create– encourage new development to build nice buildings. But one of the problems with shopping centers, if it’s not a nice building, when it goes vacant, you don’t really love it, you don’t really like restore the buildings. You tear it down and do something else. If you build buildings that people love, those are the ones that endure.

INTERVIEWER: Sure. And they become part of the community.

MATT CANDLAND: Right. They become symbols of the town. Like what is Baltimore without Camden Yards, what is Baltimore without the Bromo-Seltzer Tower?

INTERVIEWER: Exactly.

MATT CANDLAND: You know, those are buildings that people love and they become symbols.

INTERVIEWER: Mm-hm, sure. Well, Matt, the– I always like conclude these interviews with do you have any advice for young people coming up to date. Take somebody who’s getting out of high school or getting out of college and hasn’t quite decided what they want to do with their life. They may have gone to South Carroll, they may have gone to Liberty. They may be getting ready to go to college or have just completed college and trying to decide what they’re going to do with the rest of their life. What would you encourage them to do?

MATT CANDLAND: Wow.

INTERVIEWER: Well, you’ve been around a while. You’ve, you’ve got some experiences here in the county, you grew up in, in Montgomery County and so you’ve seen a lot of changes in this part of– of Maryland. What would you advise?

MATT CANDLAND: Then you mean with respect to their personal life or if they could live here, in order to live here?

INTERVIEWER: Whichever, you pick.

MATT CANDLAND: Well, I mean I would probably on a personal level, I would give them the same advice I’ve received. And that is try and develop those qualities that make you a good person. You know, learning good trades and skills are very important, so whether it’s college pr going to trade you know, learning– Those are very important but ultimately um, I’ve noticed that people want to be around good and happy people. And so if you’re a good and a happy person, you’ll be attractive to people. And people will want to do business with you, they’ll want to hire you, they’ll want to keep you. And if you’re– you know, the competency is important, but I’ve found, my policy has always been [INAUDIBLE] try to hire happy people. Because generally happy people um, tend to be pleasant to work with and they tend to be positive. So on a personal level, that’s what I recommend.

For those folks who want to live in Carroll County, um, make sure you get a good job because unfortunately Carroll county– or fortunately, whichever way you look at it– is becoming very expensive. And one of the downsides to um, to Carroll County’s success is many of our children will likely not be able to afford to live in Carroll County.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: So if you want to live in Carroll County, um, you’re going to have to make sure you make enough money to do it. I don’t see a lot of multi– family housing going up here. I don’t see a lot of– the days of little starter home ranch are gone.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

MATT CANDLAND: Because land has become too valuable.

INTERVIEWER: Sure.

MATT CANDLAND: So um, uh, I think it’s going to be difficult to, to– So I don’t suspect that my kids will end up living in Carroll County, although I’d love to see it. But I think it’s going to be hard for them to do it.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, these are going to be tough times in the next 10 to 20 years.

MATT CANDLAND: And then they’re no– they’re not making any new land.

INTERVIEWER: No. Absolutely not.

MATT CANDLAND: So nationwide as the land gets used up, land is going to continue to be, you know, expensive. So.

INTERVIEWER: Well that was great advice, Matt. I want to thank you again for taking the time out of your very busy day to spend some time with me to talk about your um, experiences here in the county and to share those with us for the community media center. Have a great day.

MATT CANDLAND: Thanks.

was great advice, Matt. I want to thank you again for taking the time out of your very busy day to spend some time with me to talk about your um, experiences here in the county and to share those with us for the community media center. Have a great day.

MATT CANDLAND: Thanks.