Elkridge wants to change its image.
The 260-year-old community, bisected by Interstate 95, is tired of being known as the place on Route 1 with all the motels, residents say.
So an eight-member group from the Elkridge Community Association, calling itself the Community Image Committee, is coming up with an ambitious blueprint for ways to improve the area.
Members are putting the final touches on a program that calls for hiking and biking trails between east and west Elkridge, tree-planted berms along Route 1, and the cleanup of trash-littered lots and rundown buildings.
"We want to present a more unified community image," saiRuth Hershey, the outgoing committee chairwoman.
The Elkridge Association could hold further discussions on the committee's ideas at its scheduled meeting Nov. 18. If the plan is made final, association members could present it to county and state officials by the end of the year, Ms. Hershey said.
Members of the group are hoping that county and state governments would pay for some of the improvements, particularly the proposed hiking and biking paths. Ms. Hershey could not cite any cost figures at this point.
Other parts of the program would be carried out in cooperation with local businesses and property owners.
To date, "it's all been planning and thinking of what we could do," Ms. Hershey said.
County Executive Charles I. Ecker appears receptive to the idea of hiking and biking paths linking two parts of the area.
"I would be glad to talk to them and see what it would entail," he said, adding that he also would like to establish a path from Elkridge to Ellicott City along the Patapsco River.
The image committee is the result of a long-simmering desire on the part of Elkridge residents to polish the image of the community.
Ray Miller, community association president, said he came up with the idea of an image committee after being bothered by the haphazard appearance of buildings and signs along Route 1, a heavily traveled corridor lined with trucking companies, motels and restaurants.
"There seems to be a lot of room for improvement about the way Elkridge presents itself," Mr. Miller said.
The committee sees a network of hiking and biking trails as a way of linking east and west Elkridge, now separated by I-95, enabling residents to walk to nearby parks and the Elkridge Branch Library.
The trails would traverse neighborhoods on both sides of I-95 and could use the Montgomery Road Bridge to cross over the interstate.
"People would like to visit the library and Rockburn Branch Park without getting in a car and driving down Montgomery Road," Mr. Miller said. "There's definitely a need in the community for a network of hiking and biking trails."
In addition to bike paths, the group's ideas include improvements to parking lots along Route 1, where entrances and exits along the busy road are "rather dangerous," Ms. Hershey said.
The committee would like to see parking lots be built further away from Route 1 and be hidden by berms or medians.
And members hope to work with property owners in the area to make sure that properties are well-maintained.
To that end, members already have fanned out to photograph rundown buildings and trash-littered vacant lots along Route 1, Montgomery Road and Ducketts Lane, Ms. Hershey said. Owners will be contacted to determine what can be done to refurbish them.