Start Time: 7:35 pm
End Time: 10:45 pm (or thereabouts - followed by a closed meeting)
This was another good night for the Inner Arbor Plan. Despite just about every procedural stumbling block in the book being attempted, the process for selecting two CA Board members to the Inner Arbor Board passed, prompting the election of Gregg Schwind and Ed Coleman. With their selection, the Inner Arbor entity may now be created and, along with President Phil Nelson, these three may select the final two members. There are many more miles to go before shovels hit dirt, but last night represented substantial progress.
I don't think I could give you a fair recapitulation of last night's meeting without mentioning resident speak-out. Let's just say I took some on the chin. Over an hour and a half, I was told that I should apologize for calling opponents of the Inner Arbor Plan liars (not exactly what I said), resign for statements made about Cy Paumier in Wednesday's post (namely, calling out his lobbying of CA Board members), and, in a flourish of dramatic expression, asked "have you no shame, Mr. Coale?" One Board member even recruited her husband to yell at me for three minutes.
That's fine. I've put myself out there. This is the consequence. I'll do it again. But what is most heartening about the entire affair is that from out of the homogeneity of anger and accusations, Julia Jackson McCready's three minutes thanking the CA Board for passing the Inner Arbor Plan stood out in contrast.
Hobbit's Glen Update
Shortly after "all of that", the Board received an update on plans to demolish and rebuild the Hobbit's Glen Clubhouse. I was surprised to see that demolition is scheduled for as early as this October with completion the following Spring/Early Summer. That is very good news for those of us ready to usher in the first of many new CA projects in Columbia.
I did not notice many substantial changes to those plans offered when we voted on the $6 million contract. This will clearly be a top notch facility and, when I get a chance, I will try to link the presentation for all of you to see.
Relationship Building with the Villages
Every once in a while, the CA Board comes across an agenda item that plays out like Abott and Costello -- "No. What is on second base." The entire Board seems to have an idea of what we are trying to accomplish - build trust and cooperation with the Villages. There is an ever-present sense of suspicion between the Villages and the Columbia Association, with a handful of guffaws anytime someone mentions the CA Board. Some of that is inherent to the relationship. When I worked for the government, any department that was distant enough not to interact with on a daily basis was "incompetent." (That was probably an unfair way to be, but you re-write two centuries of workplace culture.) But, we are nevertheless looking to fix it.
The comedy routine comes in when we try to create a "desired state". No one, myself included, can make the desired state narrow enough to mean something, while also broad enough to address the general unease regarding our relationship with the Villages. You would think this would be easy, but it is not. When this item came up on the agenda, I kept my head down and hoped for the best. It appears as if the "desired state" will be conveyed to the Villages for input, which may be fruitful in terms of "two heads being better than one."
Apparently, "We just want you to like us" does not make for an adequate objective.
Selection of Two CA Board Members to the Inner Arbor Board
For fear of damning them with my friends from Resident Speak-out, I think the Board made the right choice in selecting Gregg Schwind and Ed Coleman to serve on the Inner Arbor Board. I had thrown my hat into the ring, but I think the Board saw how much of a lightning rod I had become with certain elements of the community, and appropriately chose to go in a different direction. We really can't have someone like me on that Board. Not right now.
I've spoken at length with both Gregg and Ed about this Plan and am confident that they will be good stewards. Unfortunately, this position is going to come with a great deal of scorn along the lines of what we heard in Resident Speak-out, regardless of what they do. There is no safe path in supporting something this big. Gregg and Ed are professional enough to stay the course despite such pressures, and on the other side of things, bring a healthy skepticism to the fireworks and flashing lights that accompany great excitement.
Personally, I'm happy to let this cup pass. Between vigilance in support of the Inner Arbor Plan, two to three phone calls a day related to the same, Village Elections, the Columbia Foundation, Voices for Children, and...my job...I have been stretched very thin this past month. I don't need to add another meeting to the itinerary, and hope that this new Board fills some of those roles. Nevertheless, I will not change one thing about my advocacy for this project.
In closing, there can be no spectators on this journey. I am empathetic to all of the time conflicts that make up your Thursday, but, as I've said before, if you don't speak up, your will is presumed. I can hardly count how many times we've heard "It's clear the residents want..." in reference to the 8-10 people that speak at Resident Speak-Out. If this is really representative of what the 100,000 Columbia residents want, I think I need a new home security system. For those that have already made yourself heard, thank you. For those that have found excitement in the Inner Arbor Plan, stay tuned. This was not just one push to get a big idea passed - it is a prolonged effort.
Have a great Friday doing what you love!