June 24, 2009

Catonsville 2020

Group looks at future of business district
Councilman names 11 residents to Catonsville 2020

By Adam Bednarabednar@patuxent.com
Posted 6/24/09

A group formed by Councilman Samuel Moxley has been meeting to plan for the future of Catonsville's business district along Frederick Road, primarily between Bloomsbury Road and Paradise Avenue.
The group, called Catonsville 2020, has 11 members, all of whom are Catonsville residents who own businesses and property in the community.
Catonsville attorney Brian McFarland is the chairman of the group.
Other group members are: John Alli, James Baeck, Carri Beers, Judy Boitz, Ellen Hemmerly, John Murphy, Tom Quirk, Kirby Spencer, Tom Whalen and Craig Witzke.
The two informal meetings on how to begin the community conversation about improving the district have touched on traffic, parking, green space and economic development.
"We want a healthy, thriving Catonsville," McFarland said.
Making sure the business district remains vibrant should be a concern for residents too, McFarland said.
"The business district must remain strong for our residential districts to stay strong," he said.
McFarland said the main concern for business owners is to have the Frederick Road corridor become an area that people come to instead of passing through.
"You hear people say they can't find parking spaces so they didn't stop, that they hate driving through Catonsville because traffic is so backed up," he said.
McFarland said ideally he would like to see the business district become similar to Old Ellicott City, where people walk up and down the streets, visiting the local restaurants and businesses.
The state concern's about the increasing traffic on Frederick Road and the improvements along Bloomsbury Avenue were among the reasons Moxley said he formed the group.
Moxley said he did not give the group a mission statement or specific outcome.
"I gave the committee an open easel, if you will, to draw what they want to," he said.
He said he envisioned the group as picking up where the Catonsville 2000 committee left off.
That group installed new brickwork, lighting and other improvements as part of the streetscape project in 2000.
Bryan Sheppard, an aide to Moxley, said that the group is meeting now to determine specific issues to focus on before seeking wider public comment.
"It's not like they're mapping out a master plan," Sheppard said.
There has been no time line attached to when a plan for the district would be complete.
McFarland said it's early in the process and the committee hasn't yet developed a method for gathering community comment on the project.
"To a certain extent, we're still feeling our way along," he said.
McFarland said he expects the process to pick up speed after the summer.
Eventually, the group would like to produce a plan that would be added as an amendment to the area's current master plan, McFarland said.

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