I still working on getting a full listing of statements from various candidates, organizations and businesses…and I decided to reach out directly to some of the candidates running for office in Howard County…specifically Howard County Council in District 1 and Maryland State Delegate in District 9B. I emailed them all asking if they would like to issue a statement on the blog about the proposed plan….here is what I received:
Howard County Council District 1 candidates:
Liz Walsh (D) – via Facebook post this morning
Dang it, y’all. In all the excitement we must have missed another depiction of the #AlexanderPlan, published last month in the Daily Record accompanying an op-ed submitted by local developer, Bruce Taylor. You can see below, this one more clearly identifies additional features of his plan, including “possible new structures” in light gray.
“Light green shows structures removed.”
Thing is, the extent of demolition this local developer has been angling for at the bottom of #oldEllicottCity’s Main Street sure does look an awful lot like what our local government announced its intention to do itself—for the first time, on a fast-track basis—last Thursday, August 23. And gosh, you can see below, the local developer angling for this #AlexanderPlan sure does seem to think that Allan Kittleman and Jon Weinstein’s just-announced “bold” plan to demolish ten buildings at the bottom of Main is “the first step” in his.
We’re told Bruce Taylor emailed the text screenshot below to the non-profit Ellicott City Partnership, among several other recipients, yesterday afternoon. Did you get it? Do you get it?
I sure don’t.
The proposed demolition of all of these buildings, from Caplan’s down to Phoenix (which itself is a whole heckuva lot more than “5%” of the streetscape) did not come from any of the many, many government studies, recommendations or analyses published since the 2011 flood down Main. What scant information local government has released since its August 23 announcement tells us that destroying these ten buildings will not meaningfully reduce dangerous measures of floodwaters at the bottom of the hill.
So why would our—local—elected officials be rushing to spend limited public funds to implement a privately-sponsored demolition plan that even they do not claim will result in appreciable life-safety improvements (whereas others will)? Any why on such an accelerated basis, without public input? On what rational basis would state and federal officials follow suit?
If we’re going to intentionally destroy this centuries-old, iconic streetscape (which, gosh, I sure think we shouldn’t), we better be doing it based on an independent, comprehensive engineering analysis that would justify the significant public expenditures—and irreversible consequences—at stake here.
We need to know actual engineering inputs, methodologies and conclusions. We need to know the benefit/cost ratios, and how those compare to the next-“best” alternatives. We need to know the basis for this latest plan’s timeline and phasing, and the incremental costs (and sources of funding) of each of its component parts, and their expected yields. And, yes, we need to know that this latest plan will actually make our town safe to be in. To eat in, to work in, to sleep in.
This time, we need to make the right decisions.
Raj Kathuria (R) – via email
A thoughtful and comprehensive plan has been put forth by The County Executive Allan Kittleman and Councilman Jon Weinstein. A bold and out of the box approach is what is needed to save Old Ellicott City. Too many lives have already been lost due to the recent floodings. This plan helps in mitigating the life safety risks. Considerations were given to have storm water retention ponds upstream to reduce the water runoffs and the flow. This plan expands on culverts at the same time to channel the water. This is a well thought out bipartisan effort to preserve the town of Ellicott City for the future.
Maryland State Delegate District 9B candidates:
Courtney Watson (D) – via email and text from Facebook
see my Facebook fan page – feel free to cut and paste the most recent post.
This is what was posted on Facebook:
I agree with the architects of this plan that public safety must be the priority, but I reserve judgment on the need to demolish much of the historic center of town until there is a presentation of the data that led to this decision. My hope is that the county will televise the historic District Commission meeting on 9/6 and the Master Plan Information Session on 9/12, as well as all key public meetings, to increase transparency surrounding this announcement. This is an irreversible decision to a unique and valuable historic asset. Taking the time to get it right, while also protecting public safety, are not mutually exclusive goals and certainly not out of reach for Howard County.
This article was posted with that statement: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-0827-ellicott-city-20180824-story.html
Bob Flanagan (R) – via email
I am fortunate to live less than a half mile from Historic Ellicott City and care deeply for this town and everyone in this wonderful community. Many have asked for my thoughts on the recent mitigation plan put forth by the County, which I will share below.
During the 2014 campaign, I was given a tour of the Hudson Branch of the Tiber River up close. West End resident and Main Street business owner Frank Durantaye took me along the stream and into the underground culvert that begins near Ellicott Mills Brewing Company and ends outside of La Palapa Grill and Cantina in parking lot D. I saw firsthand the many choke points and instances of long-neglected infrastructure. A few months later, during a stream clean led by the READY group, I witnessed large amounts of debris in the streambed that had accumulated for years.
The flooding that had occurred in the West End and on parts of Main Street in 2011 should have highlighted the need for swift action, but these clear infrastructure problems were ignored.
Within months of County Executive Kittleman’s term beginning, he worked with Councilman Weinstein and members of the community to form the Historic Ellicott City Flood Workgroup. After the 2016 flood, the County mapped the entire watershed to identify where more could be done to slow the flow of increased runoff in a time of climate change. An intense review of the potential infrastructure improvements then took place. Funding was provided in each of the County’s unanimously –passed budgets to ensure that these badly needed projects were completed. Many of these projects were already in progress, and some had been completed, by May of this year.
The Memorial Day flood of 2018 was a shocking and tragic game changer. It became abundantly clear that time was of the essence and immediate action was called for. The subject matter experts that have worked with the County have indicated that the proposal announced on August 23rd is both the most effective and the most cost-effective option that we have. More importantly, this is a situation where lives are imperiled.
Those with concerns about this proposal are, in my opinion, underestimating the ability and desire of the County to preserve, relocate, and save many artifacts, landmarks, and businesses to safer locations. I’m confident that this will be an integral part of the plan as the process moves forward.
Some of the commentary that I have seen is extremely unfortunate, in that it has questioned the integrity and good faith of Executive Kittleman and Councilman Weinstein. I know both of these men and I vouch completely for their honesty, integrity, and love for Main Street. Further, I condemn, in the strongest possible way, those who have resorted to vulgar and hateful language to further their arguments, and I call on all of our candidates and elected leaders to do the same. There will be an opportunity for public discussion and debate on what has been proposed, but the reality of two catastrophic and lethal floods in less than two years makes it imperative that we move forward as expeditiously as possible.
– Bob Flanagan
Why did I choose these two districts and these four candidates for comments…the simple answer is that Ellicott City is part of those two districts and I had a feeling each of them would have an interesting view point on where we are headed (or potentially headed). I know I should have also included candidates in Maryland State Senate 9…but I can make that a future post now…and this one is long enough for all of my readers.
One additional bit of information…Calvin Ball (Howard County Council District 2 and candidate for Howard County Executive) posted the following yesterday on Facebook:
EC Update: In an effort to keep you informed especially in light of the concerns surrounding the future of Main Street Ellicott City, I wanted to provide another update. This past Friday was the Council’s legislative prefile. There are two bills for our consideration, as follows:
Transfer of Appropriation Ordinance1-2018 (TAO-1). Introduced by the County Executive and proposes to assist in the implementation of the Ellicott City flood mitigation plan. TAO-1 calls for the transfer a total of $15,759,000 to Capital Project C0337 (Ellicott City Improvements and Enhancements) and a total of $1,000,000 to Capital Project D1175 (Valley Mede/Chatham Flood Mitigation. The legislation can be found online here: https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx…
How will this impact our other County projects? Under TAO-1, a State grant which the County is anticipating for road resurfacing ($1,734,000) which is now being proposed to be removed and re-appropriated; $984,000 will be transferred from C0214 (Category Contingency Fund); $10,975,000 will be removed from the Route One Fire Station and transferred to C0337; $3,700,000 will be removed from the East Columbia Library Athletic Field and Site Improvements (N3973).
Council Bill 61-2018 (CB61). An ACT making emergency appropriations and amending the Annual Budget and Appropriation Ordinance for FY19 in order to implement the Ellicott City flood mitigation plan. In order to implement the Plan, $2,000,000 is being proposed to be removed and transferred from the General Fund, Contingency Reserve to be used for costs associated with the Plan. CB61 can be found online here: https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx….
Things to consider:
First is the re-appropriation of the State grant from our road resurfacing fund to be used for this project. For those concerned with potholes and road re-paving requests, this is an important consideration. As part of TAO-1, the Administration advises that the County has already allocated $750,000 as a justification for the removal of the State grant; however, I have reservations about removing this funding given prior requests from this Administration to transfer additional funding to this project.
Route One Firestation. This project continues to be delayed and the Administration is now proposing to significantly defund the project. This Waterloo firestation will help address life and safety concerns as well as reduce response times for those living along the Route 1 corridor. I am hopeful we can reach a resolution that doesn’t jeopardize life and safety in all areas of the County.
Furthermore, given all the conversations recently about the need for a 50+ center, I asked for clarification from our Auditor on the impact removing funding from N3973 will have on the proposed 50+ Center. While I agree they are separate projects, during our budget deliberations we discussed these two projects potentially being designed together. I want to ensure there will be no fiscal impact or delay in the timeline for design/completion.
What’s next and important dates so you can mark your calendars. The Council will formally introduce TAO-1 and CB61 for our consideration on Tuesday, September 4th. A public hearing is anticipated for Monday, September 17 at 7pm. We are currently discussing whether the Council will start the public hearing at an earlier start time given the public interest. Check our Council calendar for updates: https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Calendar. If needed, the Council will host a work session on Monday, September 24th at 4:30pm. We welcome your testimony on all legislation, including those relating to the Ellicott City flood mitigation plan. Please email your testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re planning on attending our public hearing, you can sign-up online here: https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/otestimony/.
CB61 is proposed as an Emergency legislation which means it must pass by a 2/3 majority (4 Councilmembers voting in the affirmative).
I am looking forward to a transparent process regarding the future for Ellicott City. I know we all value the voices and perspectives of our neighbors as we deliberate and decide how best to vote. Thank you for your willingness to stay engaged and I look forward to hearing from you.
And just keep provide a little more this morning…from the Facebook account for Allan Kittleman (Howard County Executive) posted yesterday:
Thanks to WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and C-4 for inviting me to be on his program, along with Jon Weinstein – Howard County Council, for a discussion of our five-year Flood Mitigation Plan for Ellicott City. This plan is the best for the town to protect life safety and ensure that Main Street is thriving for centuries to come.
Stay tuned folks…lots of information and discussion on this topic will continue…do your best to stay informed and find out what candidates for office are saying / doing.