B&O station museum seeks $50,000 in improvements Roadwork, water projects also among concerns at county budget hearing

April 24, 1996|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

Want to get some attention during a Howard County budget hearing?

Approach the podium dressed as a Civil War captain.

"Uh oh, full regalia," County Council Chairman Darrel Drown said last night as Ed Williams walked to the microphone in search of $50,000 to improve the historic Ellicott City B&O Train Station Museum.

Mr. Williams, the museum director, was well-received during the 60-minute public hearing that further showed this year's budget process looks to be a low-conflict affair in Howard.

At issue was County Executive Charles I. Ecker's $75.2 million construction plan, also known as the capital budget, for fiscal 1997.

The budget features $31.5 million for school construction as compared with $45.2 million in the current budget, $15.9 million for road construction as compared with $2 million, and $27.8 million for other projects.

Last night, only six residents came out to speak, in part because issues were hashed out in earlier, more specific forums such as the school board and parks board.

Mr. Williams dresses in 1800s garb at the museum. He hopes to receive up to $410,000 to rehabilitate the station over the next several years. Half the money would come from the county and half from the federal government, Mr. Williams said.

He told the council of his visions:

Construction of a replica of the Tom Thumb locomotive, the B&O's first steam engine, that traveled from Baltimore to Ellicott City in 1800s.

Repairing a railroad track between Baltimore and Ellicott City on which the Tom Thumb replica could shuttle tourists. The track could cost as much as $21 million.

Still, two council members said after the hearing that the track could be a great tourist draw.

"If you could ever get that Tom Thumb running, people would flock to it," said Mr. Drown, a Republican from Ellicott City, echoing the optimism of Dennis R. Schrader, a North Laurel Republican.

The project is still in the vision stage. It is not clear who would pay for the track or how much money the train would draw.

As for the other speakers at last night's meeting, four spoke of water connection projects. The sixth speaker, Cecilia Januszkiewicz, addressed probably the most controversial matter -- the intersection of Route 175 and Snowden River Parkway.

Ms. Januszkiewicz, chairwoman of the Long Reach Village Board, insists the county reneged on a promise to construct a full-moving cloverleaf at the clogged intersection. The capital budget calls for a less expensive "dispersed movement" intersection that uses a series of timed traffic signals to route left-turners to newly constructed access roads.

The concept is in use at only one intersection in the country, the entrance to Dowling College on Long Island. Mr. Drown said he was interested in the new design because it could save more than $10 million.

Pub Date: 4/24/96

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