A New Vision for Downtown Ellicott City: Parking, Housing and More

The future of Ellicott City is the topic of a public meeting scheduled for later this month.

What do you see in Ellicott City’s future?

You can share your ideas and concerns with County Executive Ken Ulman and other county officials at a public meeting where the county will present its “new vision planned for historic downtown,” according to Ulman’s office. 

In an effort to increase customer and tourist activity, county representatives said they have been meeting with local property owners, merchants and residents. Now they are bringing the discussion to the community at large.

“Downtown Ellicott City is one of the most recognizable locations in the County, and with good reason,” Ulman said in a statement. “It has thriving business, great restaurants and ample historic charm.”

In two weeks, county representatives will meet at the George Howard Building to discuss some of the ideas for improvements and development of the downtown district including a plan to “improve the availability of existing parking.”

How do you think downtown Ellicott City could improve? Tell us in comments.

The county also has applied with the state for a “sustainable community” designation, which provides tax credits for certain sustainable building and development practices, one of which is providing more transportation choices. 

“Parking is always an issue in Ellicott City,” Steve Lafferty, director of special projects for the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning told Patch last month.

Just last week Department of Public Works Deputy Director Mark DeLuca said the as it works to rebuild a retaining wall that collapsed during Tropical Storm Lee.

And with new developments nearby, Lafferty said, “It’s not inconceivable that if you start to see an increase in population, there may be an increase in transportation that we need to fill. Right now,” he said, “it’s the whole chicken and egg thing.”

During the community meeting, other issues pertaining to downtown improvement will be discussed, including: 

  • Evaluating flood control solutions and improving storm water management
  • Update on enhancing housing opportunities
  • Increasing public safety with the creation of a Police Neighborhood Satellite Office
  • Updates from the Department of Recreations and Parks on the and other park facilities
  • Continued improvements on the Old Post Office Building
  • Constructing a unified vision and a cohesive plan for the future of downtown Ellicott City

The meeting will be in the Benjamin Banneker room of the on Tuesday, Aug. 21 from 7 – 9 p.m.

“This is the kind of collaboration we need to help small businesses thrive and in turn create jobs and strengthen the local economy,” County Council Vice Chairperson Courtney Watson said in the statement.  

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angela blueskies August 07, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Though I am no longer a resident of Old EC, there are definitely things that I believe must be addressed. For example, there is NO resident parking permit for the street or the lots. Yes, lots of free parking, but during busy times, residents are the ones who suffer the most in not having access to parking. There is no post office, no bank, no small (good) market where one can buy food for preparation, and the farmer's market is only once a month. One of the things that brought me to move from Old EC is that it's a town that caters to tourists and not to residents. Sure if you want a bar it's okay, or a cup of coffee. But the amenities of daily living that most normal towns have that cater to those who live there full time? All are missing. Do you want to create this town as a glorified museum with shopping? If so, it's well on the way there. But creating a town that is truly supportive of residents is also very, very important. And parking would be much less of an issue for locals if they didn't have to leave town to do all the essential business - food shopping, post office, banking, etc. There are MANY historic districts in this country - and in other countries - that can cater to both tourists and locals, and these would be a good model for the development of EC.
Lisa Rossi (Editor) August 07, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Thanks, Angela. We will be following up on this story, talking to the merchants, property owners and residents interested in downtown Ellicott City's future. I appreciate your comments--and any others that come in -- as we brainstorm what sort of questions to ask stakeholders as we cover this story.
Hollis Karr Burl August 07, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Of course, parking is an issue -- is the lease ever going to be up at Wilkens-Rogers? That is such an obvious spot. And think of the food trucks that could fit there! Frederick Road just over the bridge on the Baltimore County side is becoming a problem because of all the cars parked on both sides of the road. The parking lot next to the Trolley Stop off Oella Ave is a problem because it's a destination for folks wanting to party and play loud music, as is the Trolley Path, itself. In a town with parking problems like EC, it's oddly unwelcoming to have Meter Men stalking visitors as well. In terms of the feel of the town, the recent additions of Cash for Gold sign twirlers and Subway, are out of keeping with a historic district. I'd kill for a breakfast spot a la Sarah & Desmond's that offers orgainic/local/farm fresh breakfast. Also, in terms of tourists and residents, the local homeless/mentally ill population needs to be addressed.
A.R. August 07, 2012 at 02:50 PM
More parking, of course. And if you want more foot traffic through there, the stores need to be open in the evenings. It does no one good when most people work during the day and the stores are only open during the day.
Elizabeth August 07, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Get rid of the Parking Nazis and more people will come to Ellicott City.
Reliability4Maryland August 07, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Historic Ellicott City shouldn't include historically accurate power distribution infrastructure. The poles and all the spaghetti strands of wiring are ugly, but they also aren't performing as they did in 1892 when electricity first came to Main Street. Just in the past six weeks, there have been four outages that I know of, three of which were devastating to businesses and tourism. On 25 June, a power outage caused an electrical malfunction that overheated a generator that caused the Circuit Court Building to be evacuated. (The nearby District Court and George Howard Building were also affected.) On 29 June, the derecho caused an outage that lasted until the late afternoon or early evening of Sunday, 1 July. On 27 July, a tree along the power lines fell up on Church Road which took down live wires and caused an emergency. On 29 July, a bird was blamed for a downed wire that caused a fire along Main Street. There was no power on Main Street from late morning until some time later that day. The power distribution infrastructure is aged, reliability is a coin toss, and something needs to be done. If the Historic District is to be revitalized, attention to the power distribution infrastructure has to be the prerequisite because everything else that's being discussed needs reliable power.
Brandie Jefferson August 08, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I wonder about accessibility on the sidewalks. Somewhat in line with the last comment, I'd imagine those utility poles in the middle of the sidewalk make it difficult for a person using a wheelchair to navigate Main Street. Anyone have any experience with that?
Terry Zielinski August 14, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Old EC needs more parking which will bring in more locals. Agree that residents of Old EC need to have a place closer to buy everyday items like milk and bread. We live not far from Old EC, however, if we cannot park, we will drive and find another restaurant where parking is easily available. When are they going to remove the rocks from where the retaining wall went down last year. Precious parking spaces are holding ruble.
james earl jones August 18, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Parking is not a problem. follow the drunk kids at night. they get one parking spot for the car. one to drink and break bottles in and one to pee in. thats 3 spots for one....
eric August 22, 2012 at 05:06 PM
As a resident who lives in the heart of Old EC with a young family I am very concerned about the types of people who have been wondering about the area. They seem to rotate every few months and it's a new homeless or mentally ill person. And in one case the person actually commited a terrible crime and killed a nun. I would watch him and his uncle walk by my house everyday and on one occasion he even came to my door to ask for blankets. Our parking lots are becoming party zones and public urinals which are filled with trash and there seems to be very little police presence for an area which is fairly busy. One of our major problems is that we are not a true neighborhood or community. If it weren't for the fact i stumbled upon this article I would have never known this was happening. Everything revolves areound the tourist and I understand the $$ factor. However, there are good hardworking people who live in EC and want it to continue being a great place to live and raise kids. Tourist don't care like we do.


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