ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — It's been almost 11 months since devastating flooding hit Ellicott City, and on Wednesday, five potential flood mitigation plans face the town. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced his proposals as part of Phase Two of the 'Safe and Sound Plan' Wednesday. He says the plans make public safety and keeping water off of Main Street its top priorities.
The plans include a variety of ways to divert water off of Main Street and the removal of four to six buildings and structures while renovating others. Ball believes the plans will support business and property owners in order to maintain historic Ellicott City.
“Ellicott City has shown courage and resilience in response to two devastating floods. Our community is a symbol of strength, a center of commerce, and a jewel for our county, state, and nation,” said Ball. “We need bold, innovative solutions that won’t be just a ‘Band-Aid’ for this town until the next storm, but a long term and sustainable plan that will reduce the amount of potential flood water in Ellicott City, making our town safer and respecting the taxpayer investment. Our plans will keep water off the street and keep people safe.”
The Phoenix Emporium is listed to be demolished in all five plans. It's the second time this was on the table. Former Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman started plans to move forward with demolishing 10 lower Main Street businesses, but when he lost reelection, it was unclear what direction the town, and fate of the buildings, would go in.
"We love doing business here. The Phoenix is celebrating 40 years in July. The Phoenix belongs to Main Street. We'd like to stay here, and I hope to be able to work with the Ball administration to be able to make that happen," said owner Mark Hemmis.
"I'm not giving up just a piece of property, I'm giving up a place where I did business... and a home. This was my home," said Discoveries owner Sally Tennant.
Tennant's building is also up for demolition for the second time. She wants to make sure before she sells that her loss is going to make a difference, calling on Ball to study the removal of each building and its isolated impact on water levels.
Each plan is expected to cost between $63 million and $175 million, and they can take from four to seven years to complete. The Hogan administration also announced a $700,000 contribution to support the proposed Phase Two of the flood recovery plan.
"The resilience of the people who call Ellicott City home has been truly inspiring, and this project is near and dear to my heart," said Governor Larry Hogan. "Our administration is proud to support this important next step, and will continue to work with our local partners to ensure this vibrant community continues to recover and thrive."
A public meeting has been scheduled for May 2, 2019 in the Howard High School cafeteria, 8700 Old Annapolis Road in Ellicott City, at 7:00 PM to provide an opportunity for community input on the proposed flood mitigation solutions before a decision is solidified by May 15.