Re­port seeks dif­fer­ent El­li­cott City ap­proach

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

A non­profit that op­poses Howard County’s five-year flood mit­i­ga­tion plan has re­leased a third-party en­gi­neer­ing re­port that im­plores the county to con­sider al­ter­na­tives to raz­ing build­ings in flood-prone El­li­cott City.

County Ex­ec­u­tive Al­lan Kit­tle­man this week signed leg­is­la­tion to par­tially fund a $50 mil­lion pro­ject to re­move 13 build­ings from the his­toric down­town to help pro­tect the area from dam­age caused by ma­jor floods.

The new re­port, con­ducted by Simp­son Gumpertz & Heger for Preser­va­tion Mary­land, said the county has not “fully vet­ted” flood mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies that ad­dress safety and pre­serv­ing the his­toric town.

The firm rec­om­mends the county en­list Preser­va­tion Mary­land and Mary­land His­toric Trust to re­view the plan’s so­cial and fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions and “eval­u­ate the fea­si­bil­ity and cost of the al­ter­nate tun­nel bores.”

The re­port also en­cour­ages the county to ini­ti­ate a “pro­gram to struc­turally re­in­force and wet flood­proof his­toric build­ings in the flood­plain” and “ex­plore the vi­a­bil­ity of im­ple­ment­ing struc­tural re­in­forc­ing el­e­ments in tan­dem with wet flood­proof­ing mea­sures to cre­ate Open First-Floor con­cepts within the ten build­ings pro­posed for de­mo­li­tion.”

The re­port did not es­ti­mate costs for the var­i­ous pro­pos­als.

The county was work­ing on a long-term flood mit­i­ga­tion plan based on the 2016 study con­ducted by McCormick-Tay­lor, a civil en­gi­neer­ing and con­sult­ing firm, when the May storm hit.

“We based our plan on the years of data and sci­en­tific anal­y­sis com­piled by McCormick-Tay­lor, a firm which has had sig­nif­i­cant, long-term ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in the El­li­cott City wa­ter­shed,” Kit­tle­man said in a state­ment.

The county plans to ac­quire the build­ings— 10 on lower Main Street, one on up­per Main Street and two in the Val­ley Mede neighb­bor­hood — at “pre-flood ap­praisal val­ues,” ac­cord­ing to An­drew Barth, a Kit­tle­man spokesman who said it was “the right thing to do” be­cause the prop­erty own­ers no longer have the fi­nan­cial or per­sonal re­sources to re­build. The ac­qui­si­tion will cost $2,791,734.

The county plans to re­quest $20 mil­lion from the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency and other agen­cies to re­im­burse parts of the plan, which needs ap­proval from the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers. — Erin B. Lo­gan, Bal­ti­more Sun Me­dia Group

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