Catonsville sidewalk renovations are scheduled to begin next year 4 blocks on Frederick Road to receive benches, lights

December 23, 1997|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

After years of planning, a four-block renovation of Catonsville's sidewalks is expected to begin early next year, community advocates say.

The $2.1 million Catonsville streetscape project will bring new benches, sidewalks and light fixtures to four blocks of Frederick Road, from Bishops Lane west to Sanford Avenue. The state, county and business owners will pay for the project.

It is part of a county effort to renovate business districts in older communities. Streetscapes in Pikesville, Essex and on Liberty Road have enhanced businesses and provided new tax dollars, county officials said.

Towson is in the midst of a $4.5 million streetscape-roundabout project. The York Road hub sports new brick sidewalks, parklike benches and lighting fixtures and is scheduled to get a traffic roundabout early next year.

"We're hoping that streetscape will make Frederick Road more pedestrian-friendly and more attractive," said County Councilman Stephen G. Sam Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat who represents the area.

He said the area's annual Fourth of July parade -- which travels down Frederick Road -- will not be affected by the construction. "Thus it will attract people to shop in Catonsville."

Some business owners at a recent hearing expressed concern about traffic snarls during construction, Moxley said.

But the project also has excited many shop owners who compete with Ellicott City's Main Street shops -- about five miles west.

"We need it to be competitive, but the parking situation needs to be improved," said Betty Schlaich, of Blue Iris Flowers, a florist at 809 Frederick Road. "When they get rid of all the wires and lines out there, it will be very pretty -- it'll be a pleasure to work up here."

The project is to begin next month, with utility wires moved underground. Once that task is completed, traffic on the two-lane street will ease and construction of sidewalks will start in the spring. It will be funded by $1.1 million from the county's general fund and $1 million from the state. About 25 percent of the costs will be paid by property owners whose businesses face the new sidewalks, said Ray Heil, a community resource specialist who works for the county.

The county has used a formula to plan streetscapes: more than 65 percent of property owners must agree to invest 25 percent of what the county will spend on the improvements before county engineers begin to design the changes.

Pub Date: 12/23/97

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