'Single voice' emerges in historic Ellicott City

January 24, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

Three groups in historic Ellicott City are joining forces to promote local issues, such as parking, and to establish solidarity among merchants, residents and property owners.

The Ellicott City Restoration Foundation, a 14-year-old nonprofit civic group, for the first time is adding members from the Ellicott City Business Association and Historic Ellicott City Inc., a nonprofit group that operates the B&O Railroad Station Museum.

By uniting behind common interests in historic Ellicott City, members of the three groups say they hope to wield greater influence with the county on behalf of the historic district.

"Some organizations have very different agendas," said Williams Fulton, Restoration Foundation president.

"We felt we would have a greater influence if we spoke with a single voice," he added.

His group will serve as the vehicle, adding eight new members to its 10-member board of directors next month, including the presidents of the two other historic district groups.

In addition to dealing with such local issues as parking, the enlarged board will represent the historic district in matters of marketing, tourism, growth and development.

Together, the three groups represent more than 100 businesses, property owners and residents in the historic district.

"A broad-based representation of the community is a really good idea," said Ed Williams, newly elected president of the Ellicott City Business Association and director of the B&O Railroad Station Museum. "This is a way to get everyone involved."

The impending move also has drawn support from Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

"What we need to hear is a consensus from Ellicott City," said Mr. Ecker, who established a 20-member task force in April 1991 to examine the economic future of historic Ellicott City.

That task force, which included property owners, merchants and residents from historic Ellicott City, last February issued a five-year plan to improve the district's marketing, tourism, operations, growth and development.

"We recommended some form of group come to the fore to present a more unified voice than we've had in the past on issues of substance, such as parking," said Mr. Fulton, who also served as task force president.

The Restoration Foundation was the logical choice, Mr. Fulton said, because it already includes members of the Howard County Tourism Council and the Patapsco Heights/Church Road Association.

Restoration Foundation decided to add members from the business association and Historic Ellicott City, Inc. because both organizations play a key role in the area's development.

"There's a shared interest in the things that the Restoration Foundation wants to do," said Mr. Williams of the business association.

Gerald Talbert, president of Historic Ellicott City Inc., agreed.

"Historic Ellicott City Inc. is an organization that's been fairly active," Mr. Talbert said. "We're a player."

Meanwhile, the foundation plans to change its by-laws and structure next month to include representatives from still other community groups.

"I think it's a great move forward for the town, " Mr. Talbert said of the foundation's expanded membership.

"It's the most effective way for us to do something for the town. I'm optimistic."

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