Wednesday, July 18, 2012

About A Park (Wednesday LINKS)

One of the hardest agenda items that I've been asked to address as a member of the CA Board of Directors has been Symphony Woods Park.  It wraps up all of the individual conflicts within the Board:

Amateur v. Expert Opinion
Oversight v. Strategy
Micro-managing v. Acquiescence
Community input v. Community dictation

Every vote has been hard.  In fact, the decision as to whether or not particular votes are even appropriate has been hard.  (Do you want us to design the park benches?)  But due to dedicated Staff and some key considerations by the Board along the way, we've produced a Phase 1 overview that found consensus amongst the Board.  That was a difficult task.  Each of us came to the table with different interests in what we wanted to see out of the park.  My greatest concern was connectivity and synergy with Merriweather Post Pavilion.  Phase 1 provides an avenue to further exploring those possibilities.  Others wanted to make sure the park expressed the right congruence of "music and nature".  Phase 1 provides the platform for developing this theme with later programmatic features.  The vast majority of the Board just wanted the Park to look professional, and I think the Phase 1 infrastructure/back-bone will grow into something quite spectacular as additional resources are made available.

This is the platform for future growth.  It takes a creative mind to see the poured cement of a new foundation and imagine the bedroom views.  To truly appreciate Phase 1, that type of projected imagination is necessary.  So I forgive anyone who finds this Plan to be boring or without a draw.  I might even agree...if this was where the process ended.  If Columbia redevelopment lives up to its potential, and population density follows projections, the ceiling for this Park is similarly raised.   As the Merriweather Arts district is developed, and additional programmatic features are planned, the Park is augmented further, and points of joint development can be identified.  As the Park is used, and utilization patterns develop, the Park can evolve further to meet the growing needs of Columbia.

But to plan all of that in 2012 would be foolhardy and rash.  More than that, it could potentially throw a wrench into the entirety of Downtown Development, putting a square gear in amongst the round ones for Howard Hughes and GGP to work around.  The frustration, anger, and embarrassment would come home to roost on CA's doorstep, not those who suggest this preliminary plan is not enough.  More importantly, it would undercut the expectations we had set for our residents, which is a primary consideration throughout the process.

I don't have much to say about trees.  I'm just exhausted on this point.  To preserve 63 trees in the name of Jim Rouse is to ignore a lifetime of transforming nature into livable environments.

I appreciate the feedback CA has received about its proposals, but it does not change my conviction that this preliminary Plan is the correct approach.


The Columbia Flier was kind enough to publish a letter to the editor I submitted regarding Symphony Woods park.  I'm happy to go on the public record regarding my expectations for this Park.

Old and Busted: Coon Hunt Court.  New Hotness: April Wind Circle.  Congratulations to the advocates in Oakland Mills.  I really love when the community folks win.

The new Columbia beat writer for the Flier, Luke Lavoie, has already won me over by citing Wordbones in his piece about Whole Foods coming to town.  Three years ago, blogs were the stuff reporters scraped off their shoe.  Nowadays, we're just an "odd smell".  Progress!

Tuesday morning, my secretary asked "How long do you think it will be before Light Street is fixed?"  I said "Three weeks."  She said, "You really think it will take that long?"  Survey SAYS -- Three weeks.

Part 1 of Mayor SRB's "10,000 Family Plan" may be challenging census numbers.  The City is arguing that they have 30,000 more people than were counted in the 2010 census.  Ta da, 10,000 more 2.5 families!

The Chair of the "No Slots at the Mall" activist group is now joining forces with Maryland Live! to oppose a sixth casino in Prince George's County.  I particularly liked this line that seems to wrap up my thinking on Maryland gambling: "Such is the evolution of the gambling debate in Maryland. Politicians and lobbyists alike have crossed lines they once drew in the sand."  Why can't you jokers draw fake lines in the sand about direct wine shipping?

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Mac's Mom has a great post about a new project to collect school supplies for underprivileged children.  If you really believe in and care about upward mobility, education is key.  That includes the smallest things such as having a pencil or a binder to hold your homework.  This is great work and I look forward to seeing it grow.

Project UPDATE: We're now at $4,210, $790 away from doubling our original goal.  Yesterday, someone told me "It will be ok if you don't get to 200%.  You met your first goal, right?"  I don't think we can get this close and come up short.  If you donated, don't you want to be a part of 200%?

Thank You's:
The Smith Family
Bob and Cheryl Guth

That's all for today.  Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!