Monday, April 2, 2012

23 Outdoor Pools (Monday LINKS)

This past Saturday, the Columbia Association Board had a work-session to review the Aquatics Master Plan and determine the direction of CA pools.  This was a very productive meeting conducted by a fantastic facilitator from Washington, DC.  In writing about the work session, I want to be careful not to step on David Greisman's article after he donated his Saturday to covering this event.

As I've noted previously, the Board had a lot of big picture paradigm decisions to make before getting into the decision about whether or not to repurpose (later termed "enhance") any pools.  Thankfully, we never ended up having to decide whether our pools were "neighborhood pools" OR pieces of a larger matrix.  Instead, we agreed that our pool system is made up of three different types of pools with three different purposes: Neighborhood, Community, and Destination pools.  There was a legitimate concern that by classifying pools as such, residents of Columbia attending "neighborhood pools" may feel slighted.  I hope that's not the case.  In fact, I would suggest that some residents may prefer that their local pool never becomes a "destination pool", acting as a magnet for residents all over Columbia.  "Call my pool whatever you want as long as you don't call it 'Closed.'"

I went into that meeting with the mindset that none of the 23 Outdoor Pools should be repurposed and nothing I heard changed my mind.  This was difficult for me, since most of the Board members that I would normally find myself aligned with were leaning towards repurposing/enhancing the three least utilized pools.  What I simply could not get past was the idea that we were observing a self-fulfilling prophecy, wherein under-utilized pools received less funding for basic amenities, which then further decreased their usage.  In this context, I did not feel comfortable making any drastic change to what we offered in that space, which, in theory, could become as much, if not more, of a money pit than a simply under-utilized lap pool.

I'm happy to note that with a straw vote of 6-3 7-2, the CA Board voted to retain all 23 pools in the Aquatics system.  Due to a somewhat confusing mechanism at the end of the meeting to create consensus from a smaller group of participants (myself not included), I can't say I'm certain what "retain" means, but I am inclined to think that it means "as pools" with any other meaning being purposeless considering the discussion we had during the work-session.

There were other confirmations at the end of the meeting that I will leave for David G.  I was happy to participate in this meeting and am proud of its accomplishments.  We covered a lot of ground and reached a significant compromise that will do a lot of good for Columbia.

I normally say that Board service has its good days and bad days.  Saturday was a very good day.


Executive Ulman's $175.3 million capital budget was issued on Friday afternoon.  As noted by Lindsey McPherson, "School projects account for $74 million of Ulman's proposal. Funding is slated for construction of a new elementary school on Ducketts Lane in Elkridge and major renovations to Atholton High, Phelps Luck Elementary and Gorman Crossing Elementary, among other projects."  Kudos, also, to the Executive for including $600,000 that will go towards evaluating and planning for Bridge Columbia.  Previous word was that Ken could have walked away from this project without much political loss, but it was clear that this was important to distinct constituencies in the Columbia area.  It is not often that you see elected officials go out of their way to incorporate citizen initiatives in a belt tightening budget, so this was a pleasant surprise that deserves recognition.

Howard County's proposed General Plan will focus development on areas east of Route 1, water access west of Turf Valley, and Columbia's Village Centers.  I hope to make it out to one of these public hearings, but could not make it to the first.

After reading about the final push of primary candidates across the State this past weekend, I can't help but wonder why things were so quiet in Howard County.  Admittedly, we do not have any interesting Congressional or Senate primaries to concern ourselves with, and I can't see Mitt, Newt, or Rick looking to pick up the 60,000 or so GOP votes within our borders, but at least a Board of Ed candidate or two would be presumed to throw a shin dig to show us that they not only care about education, but also know how to P-A-R-T-Y.

County leaders and GOP law-makers have expressed concern about the encroachment on "County Sovereignty" by State law-makers.  While I appreciate the sentiment, under most County Charters it is apparent that the County receives its powers by way of delegation from the State.  I continue to believe that local government governs best, and in that respect I wholeheartedly agree, but this is not a matter of powdered wigs.  Oh, and one of the issues causing concern?  "One measure would force counties to require sprinkler systems in all new housing."  We beat you to in "moderate" Howard County.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: I got a fever and the only prescription is more HowChow commenter tips.

That's all for today.  I look forward to seeing a number of you at David Gertler's Volunteer Appreciation Night.  If you aren't currently volunteering for David, but would consider working a poll, drop me a line and I will forward the info.

Have a great Monday doing what you love!