Watching Maryland Ladies in Final Four
Sunday, April 2nd at 6:45pm at the Hoff Theater at Stamp Student Union in College Park
Admission is free and popcorn is free.
A Blog on what is going on in Howard County
Those were my thoughts in 2002 and since then I have been impressed by Calvin’s hard work that have achieved amazing progress in revitalizing Oakland Mills.
Shortly after I moved back to Howard County after completing grad school I met Calvin Ball at a community event. He impressed me with his vision for the future of Howard County. For a number of years I have watched with concern as the community I grew up in has seemed adrift. The visionary James Rouse had passed from the scene and new visionary leadership had yet to step forward.
After getting to know Calvin Ball, I believe he has the vision, energy and commitment to help lead Howard County forward. He will bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to the County Council and will be a strong voice in articulating the path forward for Howard County.
Though each of the candidates for County Council rightly focuses on issues of improving schools and public safety, Calvin Ball goes a step further and looks to issues of long-term planning. He realizes the importance of our location in the Baltimore-Washington Corridor and how our planning for the future must take this into account. He also presents a long-term vision for serving the transportation needs of Howard County residents, including ideas that have the potential of easing the commuting burden of Howard County residence.
Calvin Ball will be a strong voice on the County Council in formulating a clear vision to serve the long-term needs of Howard County and is the best choice for County Council District 2.
I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!
And most importantly, Myspace has detailed logs of its users' preferences, online behaviour and personal information.
CA's cable television program, Columbia Matters, is seeking second generation Columbians for a future show on that topic. Second generation Columbians are current residents in their twenties or older who spent all or a portion of their childhood in Columbia and have remained or returned after living elsewhere.
For more information, please contact 410-715-3210 or email CATVShow@columbiaassociation.com.
From Jan. 13, 2005 through Jan. 11, 2006, Christopher Merdon, a Republican member of the Howard County Council from Ellicott City, raised $173,658 in his bid to win the executive office. Merdon had $222,730 in his campaign war chest on Jan. 11, the latest date on which candidates were required to file finance reports with the Maryland State Board of Elections. . . Kenneth Ulman, a Democrat council member from West Columbia, raised $161,698 in his bid for the office during the same period. Ulman had $196,124 on hand as of Jan. 11. . . Both Merdon and Ulman have received significant donations from developers and residents outside Howard County. Each contributor can give no more than $4,000 to candidates, according to state election law.
[Merdon] received $3,500 from NAFA USA, a real estate management firm in Silver Spring. . . [He] also received $4,000 from Lundy Family Partners, which is connected to Harry "Chip" Lundy, president and CEO of Williamsburg Group, a Columbia-based builder . . . $6,500 from JP Bolduc and his wife, Evelyn Bolduc. Bolduc is CEO of JPB Enterprises, a venture capital and real estate investment firm in Columbia . . . On top of their individual contributions, JPB Enterprises and ETB Enterprises, both of which are controlled by the Bolduc family, gave Merdon $5,000, bringing the Bolducs' total contributions to $11,500, Merdon said. . . Ulman's top contributors [included]. . . $3,240 from Dorsey Family Homes in Woodstock; $3,000 from Hamilton Reed, LLC, a builder in Ellicott City; and $4,000 from Tucker Construction Group in Elkridge.
The race for Howard County executive is on track to be the most expensive ever.
I would like to suggest that the focus group meetings be held in the evening, rather than during the workday, so that more citizens can attend. A commitment to an open process, in substance as well as in form, will go a long way toward restoring public trust in this process and its outcome.
I just returned from a trip to the Fort Myers/Bonita Springs/Naples, Fla., area. It was supposed to be a pleasure trip, but what wasn't fun were the long traffic backups practically everywhere in the area. It stands as a sobering lesson for us here in Columbia.
WCI Communities Inc., the builder of the proposed 275-foot high Plaza Residences building in downtown Columbia, is based in the area of Florida I visited. I saw firsthand what a mess builders have made in that part of Florida. They are overbuilding and causing massive traffic jams throughout the area. According to the local newspapers, residents have been so upset about the unsustainable growth that they recently voted out of office all of the incumbents in the City Council of Bonita Springs, the city where WCI's headquarters is located.
Our challenge is to learn from Florida's experience and to prevent a downtown Columbia master plan that could allow so much development that it would cause the same potential mess right here in Columbia.
4) The phasing of the plan
5) The lack of small retail places heavily subsidized and available to artists, craftsmen, and musicians
6) The lack of workforce housing
7) What happens to the economic draw to the Lakefront while Clyde’s is gone if they renovate or tear down the CA Building?
8) How do we make sure we get amenities before we give away everything the developer wants?
Answering this last question goes to the issue of building trust back into the process. It is pretty clear to me that trust is gone from the process because of General Growth behavior thus far and the approval of the 22 story Tower, which robbed the community of the believe the government would stand on their side, while also proving that developers left to do what they want don’t - despite everything Dick Talkin says during the focus groups – look out for the communities interests.
OK so what is the solution to these concerns? It is to have the first part of downtown to be built be on the current Spear Center parking lot and have what is built there be an elevation transition building that serves as a South Lake Pavilion and then turn Wincopin Street South into a pedestrian only street. I know that is not very clear so let me walk you through the parts:
1) The elevation drop from the Mall/Merriweather area to the Lakefront is very steep and thus not very walkable. In Wellington, New Zealand they have parallel roads that are 3 stories higher than each other. To address this they use a cascade of shops inside buildings like Gallery Place at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to transition people from one level to the next. If we built a similar building on the current parking lot south of the Spear Center and make it a South Lake Pavilion modeled in content after Faneuil Hall in Boston or Pike Place Market in Seattle, then we create an elevation transition building that will transition people from the end of Corporate Boulevard to the Lakefront and added an economic draw to the Lakefront that will keep the Lakefront alive during any remodeling of the CA Building.
2) This new South Lake Pavilion, combined with some (maybe 20%) residential in Corporate Boulevard creates an east-west axis that complements the Mall to Merriweather Promenade and thus makes the main east-west axis not be through the Mall. We could even make Corporate Boulevard into a new Main Street.
Let me know what you think.
The Columbia Association Board of Directors/Columbia Council (what is in a name? I think in the future I will refer to it as the Columbia Council because in fact they are the elected representatives of the lien payers of Columbia) voted tonight to continue to have open meetings on the creation of the downtown partnership between CA, the county, and General Growth. I applaud those on the Columbia Council who stood up for open meetings and allowing the public to observe such an important process that is crucial to the future of downtown Columbia and Howard County as a whole (the first time there was a public meeting on the creation of the downtown partnership I am told 13 members of the public showed up).
Here is a review of the final vote:
The vote was on a proposal to allow closed meetings.
Voting for open meetings were:
Voting to allow closed meetings were:
Because the vote was tied the effort to allow closed meetings failed.
The irony of the evening was supplied by Jud Malone expressing concern about the creating of distrust while advocating for closing the meetings. I mean lets be real, a good part of the reason the public has been losing trust in the process has been a concern that decisions are being made behind closed doors and the public’s concerns are not being addressed. Most people I have talked to who attended the charrette thought the first day was great and they were thrilled by how much in agreement the public is, but then they felt that what they said was not reflected in the plan.
Anyway, back to open meetings. The way trust is built is by having a process that is open and where the plan is a true product of community input. I want to applaud Phil Marcos and Josh Feldmark in particular in being vocal advocates for keeping the meetings open. And while we are at it I think a lot of credit is due Ken Ulman for opening the whole downtown Columbia redevelopment process up by pushing to have the charrette.
A highly praised after-school program at the east Columbia library has helped dozens of pupils from nearby Cradlerock School and reduced library disruptions, but officials have no money to keep it operating beyond June.
Teen Time organizer Contobia Adams created so much excitement over the program among middle school pupils that she has a waiting list for the free, four-afternoon-a-week sessions, and parents and local leaders love it.
But two grants that produce $33,500 for a small part-time staff, snacks and field trips for 35 children are due to run out after this school year, and library Director Valerie Gross said she has no firm financing for the fall.
"The kids would like it [to continue] through the summer, and parents want it to operate on Fridays, too," Gross said. "What we are hoping for is funding from some source."
Horizon Foundation provided a $15,000 grant, and the Friends of Howard County Library pitched in $18,500 on a one-time basis. The library contributes space, material and staff time.
The program "has been successful beyond our dreams," Gross said. "We're eaching the students to understand they are in control of their decisions, and every decision has a consequence. It was not working with them simply being in the library."
Adams, who started the program a year ago after creating a similar one for the Woodlawn library in Baltimore County, said her idea was to create a program designed to excite middle school pupils who otherwise might prefer to be unsupervised between 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., the hours of the program.
She enrolls every child who shows an interest, she said, and then, using an interview process every six weeks, weeds out those who are not as committed or willing to follow the rules.
During the year, some children leave, and others on the list are admitted.
But the effect of the interviews is to build a bit of exclusivity that makes the program more desirable to the 10- through 14-year-olds the program serves.
"I get them in to find out how fun and rewarding it is," Adams said. "Then we back off and find out the true soldiers who really want to be there. I'm a hard person. I'm not an easy person."
The Lazarus Foundation provided laptop computers to help with homework, and Cradlerock School has worked with the program to enrich it with books and staff support, said Principal Jason McCoy.
For an Educational Service Provider (ESP), that's about $9,000 per year. For a teacher with 30 years experience, that's about $23,000.
What's another few months when we're talking about the shape downtown Columbia will take over the next 30 years?
Linda Wengel lives in the heart of Columbia and wants to run for a seat on her village board this spring, but she can't.
Wengel's new apartment at the Evergreens, in a building for seniors next to The Mall in Columbia, is -- like every other new building in the planned town -- in a legal purgatory.
Owners of new buildings must pay the taxlike property lien to the Columbia Association, but the buildings have not been legally annexed into Columbia, so their residents can't participate in village affairs. The problem is the result of a January 2003 change in practice by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which was used to perform annexations because the only other method requires getting approval from at least two-thirds of a village's eligible residents -- a virtual impossibility because most village elections attract a bare minimum of voters.
Whatever the reason, it is not pleasing those affected.
"If you believe in the Columbia concept, the idea that we can't vote but are still paying the assessment is upsetting," Wengel said. For apartments, however, the building owner pays the assessment directly, though it is reflected in the rent.
Joel and Gail Broida, who live east of the mall, at the new Lakeside at Town Center condominiums, agree.
"It's sort of taxation without representation. We can't vote in the election. That's not right," Joel Broida said. Gail Broida, like Wengel, wants to run for a spot on the Town Center Village Board, but she can't.
$49,99921.5% of the county households have incomes from $50,000 to
$74,99917.6% of the county households have incomes from $75,000 to
$99,99919.6% of the county households have incomes from $100,000 to
$149,9997.2% of the county households have incomes from $150,000 to
$199,9995% of the county households have incomes of $200,000 or more
[The meeting] will cover up to date information on many of the important issues currently before the Maryland legislature ... [The meeting] will also report on Monday evening's presentation by the Department of Planning and Zoning on the redevelopment of downtown Columbia as well as next steps to be taken. As in past years, there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.
Thus to create a one lane each way road requires a 20 feet wide road. From the steps on the north side of the American Cities Building to the line of the top edge of the grass amphitheater is 22 feet. That would leave only one foot on either side of the road for a sidewalk. This is not creating a very pedestrian friendly walkable area as they declare. And don’t forget that Wincopin Street South is declared to be a special pedestrian oriented street. Now if they were to take out the stairs they might have more room for the road, but then they would have a 5 foot 6 inch roughly drop from the sidewalk (and doorway of Lakeside Coffee) to the road. Again not very walkable or pedestrian friendly.
Then there is the problem of the roads in the grid system that are not feasible because of existing roads and topography. A great example of this is on the north end of the Mall behind the theater where they plan to have a road go down in front of Nordstrom from the road running behind the movie theater.
In this area they cannot lower the slope from the top because of the movie theater, which they have no plans to tear down, and they cannot reduce the grade of the slope from the bottom because it would block the exit of Nordstrom, which again they have no plans to tear down. To add to it this road area is yet another one of the examples of zigzag intersections.
And this is only the start. I will continue this discussion tomorrow. Please as always let me know what you think and feel free to discuss these issues with other readers of the blog in the comments section.