Oella Aids Ellicott City

November 24, 1992

The historic community of Oella remains little-known to many, if not most, Howard County residents. Yet Howard Countians owe the people of this small community in neighboring Baltimore County, where derelict houses are being adapted to modern uses, a note of thanks. Oella representatives have voted in favor of a plan to build a parking lot across the river from Ellicott City to help that thriving tourist town alleviate its long-standing, mind-numbing parking crunch in the old mill town's business district.

A 82-car lot would be constructed east of the Ellicott City shopping district on the Baltimore County side of the Patapsco River. This plan was approved recently by the Greater Oella Community Association. The group's approval is thought to pave the way for approval by the Baltimore County Council, with construction expected to commence next spring.

Even infrequent visitors to Ellicott City's Main Street know the frustration that comes with trying to find a parking space along its narrow roads and inadequate off-street lots. Any relief is long overdue and welcome.

Still, 82 parking spaces will only put a small dent in the problem.

Recent studies suggest that the 863 spaces currently available are paltry compared with the need, which is nearly double that amount.

With Howard County pushing tourism more than ever, Ellicott City's historic district is expected to become even more of a focal point than it is today. Marketing plans currently under review include further redevelopment of the historic area, a look at development along the river and -- of course -- more parking for the shopping area.

The fact that officials from Baltimore and Howard counties were finally, after decades, able to bring the Oella parking lot plan to fruition bodes well for future growth and development on both sides of the Patapsco River.

Rightly, Howard County has agreed to foot most of the bill for the parking lot project. Also, as a concession to Oella residents, officials have agreed to plant 12 maple trees around the lot to protect residents living near the site from the glare of car and parking lot lights.

It is well worth the investment. The quaint row of restaurants, antique shops and gift boutiques that line Ellicott City's Main Street is one of the jewels of Howard County. It's good to see it getting even a small measure of the attention it deserves.

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