Another Howard County Executive Calvin Ball Ellicott City press conference, another announcement that falls flat on original ideas, actual action or true community connection (“Howard County executive updates Ellicott City flood mitigation study,” Feb. 8). There have been many “listening sessions” over the past months, yet not one meeting solely inclusive of the residents and business owners of Main Street. As an Ellicott City resident and Main Street business and property owner, I am disheartened by the lack of direct engagement from Mr. Ball and Councilwoman Liz Walsh. We’ve reached out, we’ve asked to be heard, yet we’re left feeling lost in the sea of cameras and sound bites.
This latest announcement had six takeaways: First, rebuild Ellicott Mills Drive (started last summer by the previous administration). Second, maintain stream channels in the watershed (increased under the previous administration, but has negligible impact on flooding). Third, install two alert sirens to be triggered in the event of flash flooding (more panic-inducing than safe, I fear). Fourth, establish a grant program for flood-proofing (created and funded by the previous administration before the 2018 flood). Fifth, continue upstream mitigation (work already funded and underway by the previous administration); And sixth, set up a website (which the county already has) and create a committee to explore the potential possibility of forming a Community Development Corporation (enough qualifiers for you?).
This confirms the fear that I have about many of this administration’s actions: all fluff, no substance. It’s a shame that the extensive work already done is being ignored in favor of County Executive Ball’s preference to restudy and re-brand. Three major floods happened during his tenure on the County Council. Years of studies, meetings, advisory groups, expert opinions and public testimony — it’s all there. What additional data or numbers can be studied? It’s time to take action on the facts in front of us.
Unfortunately, Ellicott City is out of time. We want this town to survive, to thrive and above all, be safe. That means tough, unpopular decisions have to be made and we're prepared to hear them. Yet, we find ourselves at the mercy of this administration’s politics and analysis paralysis.
Julia Sanger, Ellicott City
The writer is co-owner of Park Ridge Trading Company and Park Ridge Creamery.