Ellicott City `trolley' needs one more stop to make it go

Oella Mill is viewed as final supporter needed for service

February 09, 2002|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

A trolley-style bus to serve Ellicott City's historic district will be taking more turns to get to Main Street, figuratively speaking.

A new plan to bring the long-awaited vehicle to town would link it with two nearby planned communities, the high-priced apartment complex slated for Oella Mill and a housing complex for seniors at College Avenue.

"It will be nice because it'll link [Ellicott and Oella] back together," said Jared Spahn, president of the Ellicott City Business Association, which has spearheaded efforts to purchase the trolley.

Robert Hoffman, the attorney representing Forest City Residential Group of Cleveland, the development group that is turning Oella Mill into an apartment complex, has yet to respond to letters and calls, Spahn said.

But David J. Levey, a principal with Forest City, said he'd be interested in learning about the business association's trolley plans.

"It sounds like it would be something useful for the community," he said. "We'd love to talk to him."

Last spring, the Ellicott City Business Association planned to purchase and run a bus street car to shuttle shoppers and tourists up and down Main Street and to other stops within the historic district.

While the bus-trolley was a means of drawing tourists to the business district, it also would diminish concerns about the area's notorious parking problem. It was also to be the crown jewel in a series of improvements and marketing efforts for Ellicott City.

Donald R. Reuwer and Dr. Bruce Taylor, both of whom own and develop large parcels within the town, together contributed $25,000 toward the bus-trolley.

And through a restaurant-sponsored fund-raiser in May, the business association raised about $20,000 to operate it.

But their efforts hit a brick wall after six weeks of advertising failed to result in the hiring of a part-time driver and estimates for insurance came in much higher than expected.

Plans for the bus-trolley have since been dormant, although the association rents one to run during holidays and other busy periods.

The new plan envisions running the trolley to a housing complex for seniors Taylor is building along College Avenue. Fees from the complex and the Ellicott City Business Association would help pay for the service, Spahn said.

But there was still be a $12,000 shortfall that Spahn hopes Oella Mill's developer would be willing to cover.

With its financial support, the trolley would run between Oella Mill and Long Gate Shopping Center on Route 103, with stops on Ellicott City's Main Street and the senior complex.

"If we can do something between the three [communities], the more places it can go," Taylor said.

"The general idea is it would serve Ellicott City and the gaps that exist in public transportation."

Spahn said he and Taylor would work out who would own the bus-trolley - one possibility is that it would belong to the housing complex for seniors instead of the business group - but Oella Mill would be crucial in making the project a go.

"It's really the last piece I need to make that trolley a reality," he said.

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