Report seeks different Ellicott City approach
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