Are Major Changes Coming To Ellicott City?

I read some social media comments during and after MACo Summer Conference concerning statements our Howard County Executive (Allan Kittleman) made while attending. I do not have the specifics of what he said (because if I did, I would post them here) but the thing that was talked about on social media were comments about changes to Ellicott City. The stuff I read on social media were things like: demolishing buildings or making stores / shops operate on the second floor of buildings going forward. I can not say with any certainty that any of this is true or in his plan…because I don’t have specifics on what he said or the context it was said in…just social media chatter.

I researched posts on the County Executive’s social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) and found no specific statements on this topic. I also researched Allan Kittleman’s campaign accounts (Facebook and Twitter) and again found nothing specific. I did find this:

Thanks to all the members of our community who attended today’s field hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, hosted by Senator Ben Cardin. Senators Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, former Senator Mukulski, and Representative Elijah E. Cummings have been outstanding and supportive partners in the aftermath of the two devastating floods in Ellicott City. It will take the support of all levels of government working together to mitigate the impact of future events on the town.

Bryan P. Sears (reporter for The Daily Record) wrote an article on August 16th: Officials eye property purchases, flood mitigation for Ellicott City. I do not have a subscription to The Daily Record so I have not been able to read it yet (maybe that is one I should subscribe to in the near future). If you do have a subscription…give it a read and let me know your thoughts.

Calvin Ball (Howard County Council District 2 & candidate for Howard County Executive in 2018) released a statement yesterday on Facebook about this topic:

In response to growing questions about the County Executive’s plan and vision for a renewed Ellicott City, I sent the following letter. “Ellicott City will only come back stronger if we all have a seat at the table”. I hope there will be an opportunity for the entire Council to weigh in soon and the public to offer testimony.

And this image of a letter to the County Executive:

According to the Ellicott City Patch: County leaders will present plans Thursday for dealing with future Ellicott City floods. Noted in that story:

ELLICOTT CITY, MD — Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman will announce flood mitigation plans for Ellicott City Thursday morning. The announcement will come nearly three months after the latest flash flood paralyzed the historic downtown district.

Main Street in Ellicott City has been gradually reopening as the area rebuilds and recovers from the May 27 flood that swept through the area and killed one person.

Earlier this week, federal officials convened in the George Howard Building to discuss what could be done.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a field hearing Monday called: “Oversight Hearing on Repeated Flooding Events in Ellicott City, MD: Reviewing the Federal Role in Preventing Future Events.”

At that hearing, it was established that an act of congress would be required to grant funding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended to study ways for making structural changes to the watershed, WTOP reported.

Kittleman and Howard County Councilman Jon Weinstein will make an announcement about plans for Ellicott City at 10:45 a.m. Thursday at the Baltimore & Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum Plaza on Main Street at Maryland Avenue.

So we should know a little more by mid-day today. I am hoping they will be live streaming the press conference for those of us that will not be able to attend today (hint…hint).

I also looked into what a few other candidates for office have posted recently about this topic…specifically candidates in Howard County Council District 1 and Maryland State Delegate in District 9B. Here is what I found:

County Council District 1:

Liz Walsh (D) posted this on August 21st:

No one talked directly about a rumored plan afoot to tear down a stretch of historic buildings—from Caplan’s down to Phoenix—at yesterday’s “Oversight Hearing on Repeated Flooding Events in Ellicott City,” held in our very own George Howard Building by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen presiding.

Congressman Elijah Cummings began testimony by acknowledging our urgent need for “a coordinated, deliberate, thoughtful flood control effort that is informed by the best available science and that has adequate funding to build the infrastructure needed to protect” Ellicott City. Following Congressman Cummings were two federal agency representatives: the newly installed Commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, Colonel John Litz and Cecil Rodrigues, Deputy Regional Administrator for the U.S. EPA, Region 3. They were asked: “How can the Corps and EPA assist”? Colonel Litz’s response: In the near term, risk communication and emergency preparedness, and the flood proofing measures already recommended by the Corps in its 2018 report [at each individual property owner’s expense]. In the long term, “a comprehensive, collaborative plan,” based on a watershed-wide study, to develop a holistic solution. He could not confirm whether or which of the slew of historical reports on the shelf, dating back as far as 1994, might appropriately be relied upon by the Corps in its own analysis. Mr. Rodrigues, in turn, outlined a host of funding mechanisms available to local governments for storm water infrastructure specifically, including low-interest and long-term loans, and grants.

Yes, some on the last panel of local government and community representatives alluded to a “radical change” in old Ellicott City. But none spoke on the record about what specifically that might entail, or why. Rather, the Patapsco Heritage Greenway’s Grace Kubofcik (Koo-BOFF-Sick, dammit) laid out why every effort should be made to safely preserve the iconic, historic streetscape of this old mill town. As much of it as we very possibly can.

Senator Cardin closed the two-hour hearing with this: Old Ellicott City is “a treasure,” he remarked. And he promised, that our federal delegation would do everything it possibly could do to preserve this treasure of ours. (Me too, Ben. Me too.)

You know more about “The Alexander Plan” and what it could mean for old Ellicott City? Tell us, please. We’re dying to know.

Meantime, I’ll be working up my own written submission about repeated flooding events in Ellicott City to enter into the hearing record, and collecting for you—in one place—all of the historical flood reports and recommendations we can find. You can submit on the hearing record, too. Through September 3, close of business, they’ll take any relevant materials you may have, reports included. Your submission should be addressed to the Subcommittee Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Cardin, but can be sent electronically to Shannon_Frede@cardin.senate.gov, full instructions in the last shot below.❤️

Raj Kathuria (R) – The account has been very active recently…but nothing specific on this topic.

Maryland State Delegate District 9B:

Courtney Watson (D) post this last night:

Transparency and community input are key requirements for a government to represent its people well. Our community is in the dark, left to try and make sense of small amounts of leaked information, and rumors, about a county plan to tear down buildings on Main Street. I urge our elected officials to release the information and allow time for public review and comment before any decisions are made.

Bob Flanagan (R) posted this on the 20th: (not specifically on this topic…but showing engagement in the ongoing Ellicott City discussion)

Attending Senator Cardin’s oversight hearing on repeated flooding events in Ellicott City.

Thoughtful and detailed testimony was heard from the Ellicott City PartnershipJon Weinstein – Howard County Council, the Patapsco Valley Heritage Area, and Howard County Government.

Thanks to Senator Cardin, Senator Van Hollen, and Congressman Cummings for organising this important discussion.

While we are all hyper focused on the two recent floods in Ellicott City…flooding is not a new thing for that area.

Photos via The DARKROOM – Baltimore Sun Click to see additional images.

Maybe “major changes” is just what Ellicott City needs. I don’t know what that plan should be…that is for others to decide…but I hope we are all kept in the loop as this moves forward.

Stay tuned….this is a story worth following.

Scott E

One thought on “Are Major Changes Coming To Ellicott City?

  1. Allan Kittleman’s staff did tweet about this proposed plan today while the press conference was underway, both from his HoCo executive twitter account and from his campaign account, and the event was live-streamed on Facebook (where I watched it). However it would have been nice to have had the plan itself published at the time of the press conference or right afterward, as opposed to waiting until tomorrow (when supposedly it will be available).

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