The Howard County Council has recently decided to tear down 19 buildings on Old Ellicott City’s Main Street to prevent any future flooding from destroying the town. The most recent flood in May of this year destroyed the historic area for the second time in two years.
The buildings at the base of the street will be demolished. Ten of the buildings are businesses, seven are residences, and the other two are additional structures. The $50 million plan will not only tear down buildings, but will also build water retention facilities and expand waterways beneath the streets. However, the plan will create new flood patterns that could put other historic sites, like the B&O Railroad Station, at risk.
Erin Jeeter, owner of Main Street Yoga for one and a half years, has been a local of Old Ellicott City most of her life. She loves her job and is heartbroken over the damage in the street.
“Having Main Street close is hard. It’s hard and difficult emotionally. There’s a sense of hopelessness,” said Jeeter.
She does not believe the tear down will be successful and said it will only “prevent flooding to the buildings that aren’t there anymore.”
Jenn Skarda, owner of Sayres Eden Boutique, has only lived in Old Ellicott City since January of 2018. She believes the county will do something good with the tear down.
“People say they come here for the charm. I agree one hundred percent. They come here for the charm of the people, the charm of the shopping. They don’t come here for the charm of [an old] building,” says Skarda.
Skarda does not think anything will ever stop the flooding, but she believes that the tear down will control it.
Kelli Myers has owned A Journey from Junk for ten years. She had also owned Junk Girl, which was down on the lower end of the street and was open for a year and a half before the flood. Myers does not want to see buildings come down, but she says another flood might happen if they wait another couple years to create a plan.
“I think that we need to do what we need to do before there’s another flood,” says Myers.
Myers thinks that the tear down will work, but she believes other parts of the plan, like building retaining ponds, will also contribute to the success of the demolition.
An employee of the Syrian Cafe thinks the tear down is an unfortunate event, but he believes that it will help in the future.
“I’m hopeful that it’ll help future floods and all. I guess it’s good,” he said.
The owner of Maxine’s Market is also supportive of the demolition. She thinks that “any alternative would take 20 years” and that it has to be done, she said.
The people of Main Street are still recovering for the second time in two years. They are hopeful that all aspects of the plan, especially the tear down, will prevent future flooding.