Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Cartoon on Health Care


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Columbia Association's Goals Assigned to New President (June 2009)

Annual Strategic Issues

Describe strategic issues and include any and all expectations for the specific issue.  Identify measurements or indicators for achieving the desired outcome.

Issue 1

Columbia plans and enhances the health and safe living environment of the community

o   Improve accessibility and affordability of programs for all age groups in Columbia.

o   Use existing and future results of surveys to better understand what Columbia’s residents want or need

o   Work with the County and other related agencies to recommend that new subdivisions in or within the watershed follow regulations that prohibit sediment flow or other agents that are harmful to the environment

o   Work with the State Legislature to initiate and place into effect a new law that would give Columbia jurisdiction over its own zoning and platting matters while giving village boards a prominent recommendation role in such matters.

o   Make CA a leader in implementing green initiatives by working with Howard County to develop high standards that promote green policies in land use planning, transportation projects and building construction.

Issue 2

Columbia Association provides programs and projects to promote community and environmental sustainability

o   Work to initiate and strategically implement the recommendations of the Watershed Management Plan using grants from outside sources to the maximum level possible.

o   Refine and develop the approved Symphony Woods Concept Plans and provide a timetable for design, financing and construction phasing of the plan.

o   Explore and recommend alternative energy sources for CA facilities such as solar, geothermal, etc.

o   Continue and enhance the existing recycling programs for all CA facilities, even those owned by outside firms

o Initiate, with the condition of state and federal permitting approval, progress on dredging of community lakes.

Issue 3

Columbia utilizes available means and policies to foster financial stewardship that will require refocusing resource management

o   Develop a multi-year business plan that provides greater explanation and coordination of resources, the use of “best practices”, and equipment and priority needs

o   Develop a short-range capital improvements program based on the Board’s goals and objectives.  The plan should include but not be limited to projects such as: Symphony Woods, the Lake Front development and CA infrastructure.

o   Initiate structural reorganization that coordinates resources with the highest priority needs of the community, both current and future.  Make CA more cost-effective, productive, and responsive to changing demographics, and right-size CA in a competitive environment by focusing CA’s services on Columbia’s residents.  Ensure balanced CA budgets with spending levels that are realistic, and show how CA can improve quality of services, minimize costs, practicing cost containment, and making services for Columbia’s residents more affordable.

o   Prepare a successor to CA’s long-range Financial Management Program.

o   Assist the Board in distinguishing between budget centers that should be subsidized versus unsubsidized by the annual charge.

o   Initiate for Board review and approval short and mid range fiscal policies document that will provide the Board with the realities of CA capabilities for financing programming.

Issue 4

Columbia Association encourages community engagement, satisfaction, connection and individual development

o   Implement the CSS software system no later than May 1, 2010, and show that actual progress has been made at several checkpoints between now and then.

o   Implementation of a Residents Solution Coordinator to provide a source of information and answers to residents/property owners and to supply answers and information within specified timeframes.

o   Implement the Communications Plan to provide general project and/or program information to the community at initiation of the program or project.

o   Develop various information pieces using available resources to let Columbians know what they get for the assessment dollars.

o   Implement a process that ensures transparency in all CA operations.

Issue 5

Columbia Association utilizes interagency partnerships to develop the best programs possible for the residents of our community

o   Work with Village managers and boards to help determine their needs to plan for the future.

o   Work with Columbia “stakeholders” to develop information conduits that will assist in project and program development. 

o   Utilize community intelligence to develop pathways to the future through the development of focus groups and/or citizen roundtables.

o   Work with Howard County and the State of Maryland to share responsibility and funding for programs that are responsive to inevitable changes i.e. demographic, environmental, and advocacy that will directly impact the Columbia community.

o   Develop partnerships with the Columbia Foundation, the Chamber of Commerce and other agencies to provide input and resources into the second renaissance of Columbia.


The Columbia Association Planning & Strategy Committee (Aug 09)

ü  Working on the following:

o   Approximately 17 trees need to be cut down in Symphony Woods (SW) because they are unsafe and/or dead or dying.  Considering the implications of tree removal in SW, the PSC will host a meeting on August 20th at 6:30pm to allow the public to see the trees that will be taken down.  These trees were identified as dead or dying by a consulting arborist who provided CA with a report on which tree should be removed.  The public will be able to see which trees have been identified as they be marked with ribbons until they are taken down in approximately 2-3 weeks depending on weather conditions.  The committee will discuss the tree replacement plan with the CA President, consultants and staff. 

o   Budget Planning is being aligned to the strategic plan.  The President is developing a operational plan & business plan that will be presented in October.

o   If the Board approves, the Financial Advisory Committee will begin to develop a new Financial Management Program that will be benchmarked with best practices to help the organization create other tools beyond the current ratios that have been used exclusively to determine if CA is fiscally sound.

The Columbia Association Performance Oversight Committee (Aug 09)

Working on the following:

o   Customer Services System Update: The committee received an update from Steve Sattler on the Customer Services System  (CSS) to ensure that the project remains on track for a May 1, 2010 go-live.

o   Lake Kittamaqundi and Lake Elkhorn Dredging Projects:  Chick Rhodehamel gave an update on the dredging projects for Lake Kittamaqundi and Lake Elkhorn, the permit for the latter has been issued on July 9, 2009.  The RFP for Lake Elkhorn has been sent out and bids have been received.

o   CA’s Monthly Financials:  The POC monitored CA’s monthly financials as provided by Rafia Siddiqui to ensure that CA remains on track financially. 


The Columbia Association External Relations Committee (Aug 09)

ü  Working on the following:

o   Process for regular Village Roundtable Discussions

o   Environmental Sustainability, including Transportation Improvement and discussion of the Berkeley initiative

o   Village Revitalization, including Engaging the Business Community and Public Safety.                

o   Watershed Advisory Committee’s Watershed (WAC) Protection Framework document was reviewed.  The document will come back to committee for another review in October.  It was stated that the WAC members need to work with the Village Board’s to ensure that the Villages are beginning to move toward environmental sustainability.

Presentation of New Vision Plan for Symphony Woods

CA will host two public meetings to present the vision plans for Symphony Woods.
  • First meeting is on September 16 at Slayton House at 7:30pm featuring Cy Paumier and John Slater who will present a visual on plans for Symphony Woods.  
  • Second meeting on September 26 at 10:30am also featuring Cy Paumier and John Slater will include a walking tour of Symphony Woods permitting attendees to compare the plans to the actual landscape.
Residents are encouraged to attend both meetings, but will be encouraged to view the presentation and provide input via a survey on line if they’re unable to attend.  The on-line presentation and survey will be available after both meetings.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

MD moves ahead with the DC Purple Line and Baltimore Red Line

Governor O'Malley sent out the following email Tuesday afternoon:

Three years ago we came together united by a statewide vision for transportation that includes mass transit and roads -- and today I've got some great progress to announce in our work to make Maryland smart, green, and growing.

This morning I announced our plans to move forward on the construction of the Purple Line, a light-rail line that will run between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George's County.

The Purple Line won't just help us reduce traffic congestion and the air pollution that comes with it. It'll also give Marylanders an inexpensive, reliable, and environmentally friendly way to reach the places where they work, play, and worship.

How will the Purple Line affect your daily life? I want to hear what you think -- please share your thoughts here:

At 16 miles, the new line will connect major employment and activity centers to residential areas. It'll also link up three MARC commuter rail lines, Amtrak, and local bus services.

The Purple Line project will now be submitted to the Federal Transit Administration as we seek approvals to begin engineering work and secure $1.5 billion in federal funding to complete the project.

Along with the Purple Line, we're also moving forward this week on the Red Line -- a light-rail project in Baltimore that will better connect East and West Baltimore to each other and to regional transportation lines.

These investments mark the beginning of the next generation of Maryland's transit system, and it's a new era that will yield benefits for commuters and non-commuters alike.

Take a moment now to share your thoughts on how the Purple Line will affect you:

I look forward to hearing your comments!

Thank you,

Gov. Martin O'Malley
This is a major step forward in improving our regional transportation infrastructure. The next step will be to connect the two metro systems. A couple years ago I laid out on this blog one example of how this could be done to maximize the ridership density needed to bring in revenue to the system, reduce congestion on local roads and enabling managed growth in already developed areas, and protect and improve the county property tax base for many years into the future, while staying committed to being a mixed income community.