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)? And 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.
We’re big fans of authenticity. And of preserving #oldEllicottCity. Demand both from your local politicians.
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Ellicott City economy depends on its past — don't destroy it
On Sunday, May 27, thunderstorms pounded the Baltimore region for hours. The storm morphed Old Ellicott City into a deadly flood zone. Here’s how it happened. - Baltimore Sun, August 28, 2018 Read the full article.
Ellicott City’s economic future is intrinsically tied to its past. With so much riding on the authenticity and heritage of this community, it was with profound concern that Preservation Maryland learned of Howard County’s rushed plan to address flooding by demolishing large portions of the historic Main Street. By their own admission, this latest proposal would likely only decrease the height of floodwaters during major events within the target zone by two feet — from a range of 6 to 8 feet to one of 4 to 6 feet — a negligible reduction in contrast to the cost of demolishing a nationally significant historic resource and valuable economic asset.
It’s long been noted that historic places have power because they’re real — they’re authentic. Ellicott City is an example of a place that exudes authenticity. It is real and unadulterated. It has been traipsed over by Civil War soldiers, saturated by muddy floodwaters and stained with the sooty coal smoke of locomotives. The result is a place that beckons visitors, because it is unlike any other area. Here, the sameness of the interstate is replaced by the uniqueness of granite outcroppings and stone buildings built to last.
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.❤️
We did our first podcast, twice! In which I admit I am a scaredy-cat on carnival rides, like a good spreadsheet and Venn diagrams, and love trees so bad.🌳🌳🌳
Next up, She's Running!
Better late than never.... THE POD IS UP! Joining Candace and Tom on the couches this week is HoCo District 1 candidate Liz Walsh, chattin about the new courthouse, stormwater management, school redistricting, and TREES.
We haven’t done this before, and we wouldn’t if we didn’t think it was a big deal. Like almost-a-half-billion-dollars big deal. But, here goes:
Please call your current council reps—or you can email all of them at once at email@example.com—and ask them to hold off on approving Council Bill 54, for now. If approved as is, the legislation would authorize the County Executive to enter into a thirty-year agreement for the design, construction, partial financing, operation, and maintenance of a new Circuit Courthouse on Bendix Road. Ask them to please give this bill more time for the careful analysis it deserves, including better informing the public about what’s at stake and why. A mere four business days will separate the only public hearing on this bill from the Council’s vote on its approval, now scheduled to take place Friday (tomorrow, 7/27) morning.
You can see what’s been filed in association with CB-54 here: https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx…. And you can read what the County has posted about the proposed “P3” arrangement at issue here: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/HowardCourthouse. Good luck downloading the thousand-page-long agreement at either link.
The thing is, as currently proposed CB-54 affords the County Executive the unilateral discretion to make any changes he deems necessary to the proposed deal, even after it’s been “authorized” by the Council. I asked at the public hearing, this past Monday night, what exactly did that mean the Council was being asked to approve, and what could change without their further review and approval.
I also asked: where is the other half of the plan. The one that spells out what happens when all the regular, busy courthouse activity—and all the people it brings here—leaves old Ellicott City for good.
And finally, here’s the follow-up concern I have: where is the side-by-side cost-benefit comparison of keeping this singular, strong civic anchor in the Ellicott City Historic District versus backing a brand-new courthouse into a residential neighborhood on what sounds like a pretty good place to instead put a middle school. I worry that this is yet another instance of the County siting undoubtedly necessary functions based on a favored property location, not fundamental land-use or planning concepts.
There’s no quarrel here that we may need a bigger, or safer, or otherwise improved courthouse building. The issue is whether encumbering public funds of this magnitude, over this many decades, in the midst of the dire capital needs we face elsewhere, is the right decision to be making at this time, on this accelerated a schedule, and why.
Today, the results of the 2018 Primary election were affirmed, and the #WalshForOne team #WonForAll, by an amazing 6 votes!
Thank you for your nomination for November - we can't wait to keep this train rolling!
READ THE FULL BALTIMORE SUN STORY
... Vote? Did you? Did you? Did you make sure your friends and family and neighbors did, too? We need those votes! We need every last one of them! We are sooooooooooo close!!! (Can’t you feel it?!!! I sure can, and it’s AMAZING!!!!)
Wait, what’s that you say? You already did vote, and so did every other single person you know? Well, thank you so much!!! But guess what? YOU CAN STILL HELP US WIN THIS PRIMARY!
(1) We need friendly faces Tuesday, Election Day (June 26) at each of fifteen different D1 polling locations (Bonnie Branch Middle, Centennial High, Centennial Lane Elementary, Dunloggin Middle and Northfield Elementary, Elkridge Elementary and Elkridge Landing Middle, Ellicott City Senior Center, Ellicott Mills Middle, Hollifield Station Elementary, Ilchester Elementary, Park View, Running Brook Elementary, The Heartlands, and Worthington Elementary). Voting starts at 7 am and goes to 8 pm. Would you please consider signing up for a two-hour shift, or two, at your neighborhood polling location? Why not ask a friend or four who might like to join you? We have campaign shirts for you all to wear, flashy signs to hold, and flyers to hand out to interested voters! (Plus there’s that whole knowing-you’ve-done-something-to-better-how-this-County-governs thing.) PM me, or sign up right here if you can: https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSdrAd6fO_0hKADPOJ…/viewform
(2) Are you really sure that everyone you know already voted? I mean it: You gotta text them, call them, go with them on a coffee break. You gotta vote, and you gotta get anyone who will listen to you to vote, too. It matters. A lot. Get to voting.
And (3) Please bring those campaign signs from your front yard, and your friends' and family's and neighbors' yards (tell them I said it was okay), and plunk them down right at that polling place of yours, right next to all the other ones our other voters already brought there before you, as though to say: THIS IS LIZ WALSH COUNTRY. THIS IS #ONEFORALL.
Y’all. I am so excited. It has been four super long, super busy, and super impactful months, and WE ARE ALMOST THERE!!! WE CAN DO IT!!! ❤️
When I am D1’s next Council rep, our schools will be my top priority. Working with the Board of Education and our state legislators, I will be an advocate for our kids and the brick and mortar schools they so desperately need. I will not stand by while another bill to increase this County’s uniquely inadequate school surcharge fees stalls another year. I will fight against any effort by Developer LLC to allow “buy ins” to our already overcrowded schools.
Hey y’all: We’re gathering up all the questionnaires I’ve answered since entering the D1 race in late February, all in one place, so you can verify what I’ve always been about (schools, overdevelopment, trees), and where I’m headed (responsible, data-driven law and policy). Like what you see? Give us a thumb’s up at Early Voting! We love that.❤️
The Baltimore Sun: https://elections2018.news.baltimoresun.com/…/elizabeth-li…/
The People’s Voice (Ethics Ballot): http://docs.wixstatic.com/…/e215ab_aa9360ac1a22499494adf21a…
League of Women Voters (you gotta put your address in): http://www.vote411.org./