As rain poured down Thursday night in Ellicott City, about 75 residents and county officials gathered in a meeting room at St. Paul's Church to discuss how $3 million budgeted from the county should be spent to improve Ellicott City's Historic District.
"Ellicott City is already in pretty darn good shape," said Stu Sirota, of TND Planning Group, who is helping the county determine what should be improved on Main Street. "We're looking at how to take a good place and make it even better."
Sirota guided the community through group exercises that focused on three core issues—design, policy and management. For example, burying or moving power poles and lines would fall under design; changing zoning to only allow retail on buildings' first floors would be a policy change; and management included things like branding the Historic District or closing the street for an annual festival.
Residents, including many Main Street merchants, broke up into groups and discussed what they already liked about Main Street, but also what they would like to change.
Among the more popular ideas were the following:
- Improving the intersection at Main Street and Old Columbia Pike to make it more pedestrian friendly.
- Burying or moving power lines to rooftops to improve the aesthetics of the street.
- Adding more open space or parks along the river, and near the top of Main Street.
- Accentuating the history of the area.
- Improving stormwater management.
- Showing off more of Tiber Creek as it runs through Parking Lot D. (It's currently partially paved over, and runs into a pipe)
- Figuring out how to manage trash better.
- Adding more flowers and public art to Main Street.
- Holding a train festival celebrating the Tom Thumb train trip from Baltimore to Ellicott Mills in 1830, which was held to convince owners of the B&O Railroad to use steam engines.
David Nitkin, director of communications for Howard County, said the meeting was productive and that a lot of great ideas were generated. But he also said that compromises would eventually have to be made.
"There's not going to be unanimous support for each idea," said Nitkin.
What ideas do you support for Main Street? What would you like to see the money spent on? Tell us in the comments.