Howard County capital budget aids U.S. 1 corridor

'Very difficult choices,' Ulman tells council

April 02, 2010|By Larry Carson | larry.carson@baltsun.com

Communities along Howard County's U.S. 1 corridor would get money to start work on a new regional park and two fire stations, plan for a new elementary school and make aesthetic and pedestrian improvements as part of a proposed $211.2 million capital budget announced Thursday by County Executive Ken Ulman.

Schools would get $68.1 million of the $93 million requested by the county school board. That includes $14.7 million in state school construction money.

"We had to make some very difficult choices about what to fund and what to defer," Ulman said in a prepared statement to the County Council.

The budget also would provide funds to start a $58 million, multi-year renovation of Atholton High School in Columbia, plus enough to finish building a new fire station in the western portion of the county at Glenwood. If approved, it would also add money to help start work on long-awaited regional parks in East Columbia and Elkridge.

The new elementary could be Howard's first "urban-style" school on as few as 5 acres.

Schools Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin said he is "satisfied" with the plan, given the fiscal situation, though $16 million was cut from system renovations, including $8 million for school board headquarters.

The new fire stations are planned for Savage and Jessup, as redevelopment puts hundreds of new homes and residents into the U.S. 1 corridor.

The county has until June 1 to make cuts and approve a capital plan. The operating budget is due for presentation April 22.

In addition, Ulman is asking for money to further work on a new $30 million library and historical society building in Ellicott City, build a long-planned transit vehicle maintenance and repair depot, and to widen Marriottsville Road north of U.S. 40.

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