Bigger Problems Than Meters on Main Street

'Let's get back to the really big issues.'

Dear Fellow Ellicott City Community Members,

Let's get back to the really big issues: Stormwater Management, Beautification, Marketing/Promotion, Events, Safety, Historic Preservation, Waste Management, Infrastructure, Economic Development. We can't do any of these things without the help of Howard County government.

We had the most supportive relationship with the County we have seen in years and that is because the community presented a unified group with a positive attitude. The County is in the process of helping us address those big issues. Yes, they take time. Let's get back to working with them instead of attacking them.  

I have watched with dismay how the collective positive energy and momentum has been stalled by infighting over the relatively minor issue of parking meters on Main St. Much hyperbolic language has been used as reasons against them, but it really comes right down to convenience doesn't it?  

Parking on Main will still be free for 66% of the time, the whole area becomes a free 15 minute loading zone and the free parking will remain free.  No one has to pay unless they choose to.  No one will stop coming to Ellicott City because of meters.  We live and work here precisely because we are independent minded people who choose to be in a funky historic town.  

I park a block away in a free lot and when that is full, on Frederick Road.  Maybe I have to walk two or three blocks. That's okay.  It is part of the trade-off to be here.  None of us is entitled to park wherever and wherever we want.  More available convenient parking on Main opens it up for visitors who help make this town thrive.

Let's please work together as a community again,

Karen Besson 

Dan Jenkins October 18, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Meters will require residents like me to walk a quarter mile in all weather, and at all times of day, to get to a car. Since other mixed use areas recognize this, they give permits to residents -- but no such accomodation has been made for Ellicott City residents, and the administration has given no justification for withholding this accomodation. I have also been robbed at gunpoint in the lot that has been made free for residents, and, like so many others, have lamented the absence of dedicated police walking a beat in this town. This things might be addressed -- but the meter plan was made before any plan for residents would be finalized. This morning they are painting the lines for the new parking spots, and there is still no plan for residents. It is disheartening to see that, despite this, some business-owners rank "beautification" as more important. This is why I've told my landlord I'll be moving. I can't stay in a town that is so aggressively inhospitable to the people who live here -- and I can't imagine too many new folks would want to move into such a place. If you want to keep Ellicott City a great place to live, you will need to acknowledge that residents are part of the community. Give them the permits they deserve.
commentmaker4 October 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM
But this is an important issue. If there is still a two hour limit with the meters, that is more annoying than helpful to folks who drive here to spend the day because it's hard to shop, eat in a restaurant, shop some more, and get back to the car in two hours.Not all of our out of town visitors know to find free parking.
Julia McCready October 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM
It is great to start the day reading a positive letter for a change. Thanks for your perspective on this issue. Old Ellicott City is such a vital and valuable part of Howard County.
Brandie Jefferson October 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Dan, will you be at the meeting later this month? I know that it's not what what you wanted -- input before the plan was established -- but Steve Lafferty has said that this next meeting will be focused on residents. Also, at last night's meeting, the issue of safety was discussed and Lafferty said the county might do a "light survey" in the lots. Again, I know it doesn't address the heart of your concern, but you might get permits yet. Maybe.
Timothy Yungwirth October 18, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Thank you Karen.
Dan Jenkins October 18, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Thank you, Brandie, for your kind words. But the abundance of folks who share Mrs. Besson-Sachs' sentiments make my point: residents aren't valued in historic Ellicott City. It is taxing for so many to hear us ask for consideration. Mr. Lafferty's promise to think more about this later is too little too late. At least three apartments on Main Street, including mine, will become available as a result of this decision.
business owner October 18, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Mrs. Besson, As a reminder the unified voice came from a hand picked group of people! I believe you started paking in the free lot after the train derailment in lot B. Up until that time you paid to park in lot B, I belive for the convenience.
Karen Besson October 18, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Anonymous business owner, for 6 1/2 of the 7 1/2 years I have been here I have parked on lot A. And I will continue to do so.
Karen Besson October 18, 2012 at 05:06 PM
And if I parked on lot B, which is metered, it was because I was willing to pay for the convenience.
kelli myers October 18, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Karen thanks again for giving us a positive message. No one will be forced to pay to park, there are plenty of free parking spaces and with the app we will also be able to show people that there are parking lots they may not even know about . Anywhere else you go, you will pay to park, we are first and foremost a business district. I enjoy all the residents I meet on a regular basis in my shop and around town, but they need to realize they choose to live in a business district. Without our customers, Ellicott City will die altogether. It makes me sad, that we have worked so hard to come together as a group to bring special events to town which continues to draw customers on a regular basis, and we have also worked hard to come together with the county to make some changes and now it is being torn apart. We've been asking for help with parking for a long time, and the county is giving us something, we need to at least give this new system a chance. If you are worried about losing your customers, you need to be more interactive with them use your email list, Facebook, twitter, what ever sources you have and give them info, make them want to come to your shop, our town. Take all your time and energy that you have been spending being negative and researching and posting and spend that time making your shop a destination.
Terri McCulley Hicks October 18, 2012 at 05:21 PM
So this is all about VISITORS not the people who call Ellicott City home and who live/lived here. Why should they have to walk blocks. If you come to Ellicott City as a VISITOR to enjoy the Ambiance of a Funky little town...then you should also ENJOY a FUNKY little walk. When you use HAND-PICKED group of people to voice the opinion of the WHOLE, Its obvious that the end result would be biased. Should have been on the Ballot as a Yes to meters or No to meters. So simple!!! Lets see who pays the local government's parking fees...if they pay any, Oh wait...that would be us the tax payers. just sayin.
Dan Jenkins October 18, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Great points, Terri. And one could just as easily ask Kelli -- why do you elect to have a business in a town with limited parking? If you think you would do better with more ample parking, move to a strip mall. You choose to be here. Since this line of reasoning seems to work both ways, then, perhaps the reasonable thing to do is to grant parking permits to residents -- which is exactly what is done in every similar mixed-use area in Baltimore and DC.
Hollis Karr Burl October 18, 2012 at 06:35 PM
I live just over the bridge in Oella -- Baltimore County. I too would like to see some police presence in Ellicott City. I believe that Howard County is responsible for the parking lot by the Trolley Stop, even though it's situated in BA CO. For those of us residents who live just above the lot, along the Trolley Path, it would be so nice for that parking lot not to be a destination for folks wanting to party, yell, curse, and play loud music. A quick note on the parking issue is that the overflow parking from the Howard County portion of Ellicott City onto Frederick Road in Baltimore County means that residents like me get stuck in long lines of traffic that we can't go around to get on our street (Westchester) because of the parked cars blocking our access. If I'm not mistaken, the foot of our street is the latest parking lot for Main Street's valet parking.
Dan Jenkins October 18, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I imagine that will get worse, since the newly-marked spots on Main Street are big enough to park a boat in. I don't know the figures -- or if there are any -- on how many spots were lost as a result of overly-generous parking-spot lining, but my guess is more than a few. So ironic that now there appears to be even less parking than before!
Maia October 19, 2012 at 03:12 AM
It's really great that so many people care enough to express their opinions. It is important for the County and all of us to hear and respect each other's thoughts and ideas. I am a resident of the historic district and i also feel that residents are not always valued. I believe both the businesses and residents are important to the town's vibrancy. Businesses and the County should consider and value the opinions and needs of residents and vice-versa. As residents we spend a good bit of money on businesses in the town and we bring our friends and family to spend money at establishments on a regular basis. We love this town enough to continue to support it and raise our families here despite inconveniences (floods, power outages, parking, overnight loud trains or construction). If that doesn't deserve respect I don't know what does! Final note: just because we have different opinions doesn't mean we can't work together to improve the town; different voices can make the outcomes better!
Amy Arnold October 19, 2012 at 03:18 AM
As a resident, I find it sad some of the business owners don't see me as a customer as well. Granted in not wealthy and can't spend money everywhere, but I spend a lot in this town. The rent I pay helps keeps up the maintanence of the pretty little buildings, and lord knows I love wine! That being said, as a customer, I'd be ticked that once again, here comes government ready to take yet another dime. So I'd park in the free spots too. So when residents come home and restaurant employees come to work, the free spots are full. I truely believe its the people who make this town what it is than will end up paying for this in the end.
Peter Edelen October 19, 2012 at 10:57 AM
Hollis, you should call Portalli's. They run the valet service. They may be receptive to your concerns. Tiber Alley used to be blocked several cars deep but it is technically a thruway, so I think that was stopped after complaints because it stopped happening. I've had to go through it a couple times and honked for them to move a car or two.
Dan Jenkins October 19, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Maia, I'm so happy you've joined the conversation. So many folks like us live here and have tried to make a home here, and it is difficult to get everyone to share their thoughts -- especially when residents are made to feel like our complains are illegitimate. Getting as many people as possible to demand reasonable accommodations is necessary, however, to get those accommodations. I think it's really brave for you to stand up and risk being called lazy or having your concerns dismissed by the County employees who troll this page, and I think your call to draw on all opinions is admirable. I hope you'll keep talking!
Dan Jenkins October 19, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Well said, Amy. I would also like to point out that even if you pumped no money into local shops and restaurants, as individuals residents are still by far the biggest contributors to the local economy -- in rent alone we each feed 10-20 thousand dollars into the residential property rentals here. Since these rentals are mostly locally-owned, it would be incorrect to say that there is a tension between increasing business and accommodating residents -- residents are customers. That said, residents shouldn't have to be wealthy to have our needs considered. We also shouldn't have to spend countless hours defending ourselves against accusations that we are lazy, or become experts in identifying and combating political spin, or take time off from work to protest illegitimate use of power -- yet we have had to do all of those things here. I hope the administration will change its tune and treat us with the respect we deserve. We're not rich, but we're human beings. I had made Ellicott City a home these last 5 years; the way we have been treated makes me homesick for the Ellicott City that I thought I lived in.
Timothy Yungwirth October 19, 2012 at 01:18 PM
How does one stop following comments? I do not see that option.
Brandie Jefferson October 19, 2012 at 02:06 PM
It's in the actual email you receive. At the bottom, it says "You received this email because you contributed .... To unsubscribe from all Patch emails, click here."
john stephens October 22, 2012 at 09:04 PM
wow Kelli , imagine if all the residents and friends of residents who visit with money decided to boycott your journey from junk . pretty shortsighted ego centric viewpoint you seem to have


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