Catonsville streetscape project is put on hold


Plans to begin a $2.1 million streetscape project in Catonsville's business district along Frederick Road have been put off for at least two months because some shop owners are balking over proposed sidewalk renovations.

Baltimore County's community conservation officials have been seeking approval from business owners along Frederick Road to begin relocating utility poles for the streetscape, but some owners say they oppose the overall project.

The concerns -- and the task of identifying property ownership -- have forced engineers to wait at least until late May to begin the streetscape. By that time, they think a majority of business owners will stand behind the project so it may commence, said Stephen Lafferty, manager of neighbor revitalization in the county's Office of Community Conservation.

The streetscape is to bring new benches, sidewalks and light fixtures to four blocks of Frederick Road, from Bishops Lane west to Sanford Avenue. State and county taxpayers and business owners are to pay for the project.

Yet some business owners fear the changes will bring increased traffic and fewer parking spaces to the two-lane Frederick Road corridor.

"I don't think it's necessary," said Allan Muir, who opened Muir's Hardware 63 years ago and operates the old-fashioned shop marked by creaky wooden floors and cluttered shelves. "This town is a service town. [All business] has gone to Route 40. It's always the lawyers and doctors who are behind it, not the business people."

Catonsville's streetscape is one of many efforts to renovate business districts in older county communities such as Pikesville, Essex and along Liberty Road in Randallstown.

A similar plan to rejuvenate Middle River's commercial corridor on Eastern Boulevard, from Selig Avenue to Martin Boulevard, also has drawn protest over feared traffic and congestion during construction.

The Frederick Road project was scheduled to begin last week with utility wires on the northern side of the road moved underground.

Despite the protests, County Councilman Stephen G. Sam Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat, said Monday he hopes to help persuade business owners that the changes will enhance the corridor.

"It's going to make it look more friendly," Moxley said. "The idea is to increase the business there -- that's the whole purpose."

Pub Date: 3/25/98

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