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July 20, 2023

Carver Center to receive $850,000 in federal funding

Credit: Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND, Md. — The U.S. House of Representatives has approved $850,000 in funding for restoration of the former Carver Community Center.

The funding was less than half the amount requested by Rep. David Trone, a Democrat, prompting him to call the bill a partisan “train wreck.” Several of Trone’s funding requests took deep cuts with some not funded at all.

The funding was part of the fiscal 2024 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill passed through the House Appropriations Committee this week in the majority Republican-controlled House.

“It’s no question that this bill makes our communities less safe,” said Trone in a press release. “This year, because there’s a ‘D’ next to my name on Election Day, my community project funding requests were cut in half — an unfair and punitive measure by Republicans that will hurt every constituent in my district — Democrat or Republican.”

The Carver Community Center, located at 340 Frederick St., was renovated in 2004; however, it fell into neglect and sustained considerable damage in recent years at it sat vacant. The restoration is intended to offer workforce development and youth enrichment opportunities to low-income families.

“Congressman Trone called me yesterday as soon as he knew what the final outcome was going to be,” said Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss. “I know he was disappointed in not being able to get the full amount. But we are pleased Rep. Trone and his office were able to get us what we were able to receive.”

The facility on Frederick Street was constructed in 1921, where it operated as George Washington Carver High School. The school provided education for African-American students until it closed in 1959 as a result of school integration.

“Obviously we would have liked to have gotten the $2 million that was the original ask,” Morriss said. “But we are happy to have the $850,000 and that will get us off to a good start to rehabilitate the building to function as a great community center for the kids of Cumberland.

“We will be looking for other funding from federal and state partners for future funding. But this gets us started and headed in the right direction. Things like the Boys and Girls Club and Horizon Goodwill have shown an interest in partnering with us in the building and we’re pleased with that.”

The facility reopened in 1961 as the original Allegany Community College until the school moved to Willowbrook Road. The facility began operating as the Carver Community Center in 2004 until deterioration and vandalism led to its closure in 2011.

The fiscal 2024 THUD spending package will likely pass a vote on the House floor in the coming days before going before the Senate for negotiations. Congress hopes to have a fully approved spending package in place before their August recess, or no later than Sept. 30.