Columbia Lakefront Design Guidelines being considered by Design Advisory Panel

As stated in the Downtown-wide Design Guidelines, the vision for the Lakefront Core Neighborhood is to bring community life and activity back to the water’s edge. Lakefront Core should be a lively, walkable neighborhood connected and oriented to Lake Kittamaqundi. The existing Lakefront Plaza amenity space shall retain its identity as an important historic and symbolic gathering place in Columbia. Iconic sculptures such as the People Tree and The Hug are landmarks in the community and should be retained within the Lakefront area.

One of the objectives for the development of Downtown Columbia is to create a vibrant, walkable, and economically sustainable community in which to live, work, and play, by creating dense and compact mixed-use neighborhoods. A
sustainable neighborhood should create an urban ecology through an integrated green infrastructure network that includes trees, vegetation, and amenity spaces.

Design Advisory Panel

by Russ Swatek, Howard County Citizens Association

The Design Advisory Panel (DAP) is meeting in the Ellicott Room on Wednesday June 14, 2017 7pm at the County offices to address the Howard Hughes Corp (HHC) newly proposed Columbia Lakefront Core Neighborhood Design Guidelines.

Passing these proposed Guidelines past the DAP is just the first part of their journey to the Planning Board and on up the chain to eventual approval/ disapproval. The DAP recommendation of approval/disapproval will go along with it and be considered by future entities in their deliberations of the proposal.

  1. These proposed Guidelines are intended to be a total replacement of the existing Columbia Downtown wide Design Guidelines for the Lakefront Core Neighborhood.
  2. The footprint of the Lakefront Core Neighborhood is proposed to be expanded to include the current American City building with its parking lot and the Copeland restaurant/parking structure areas.
  3. The maximum allowable building heights for the additional areas proposed to be included in the Neighborhood are to be raised from 9 stories to 15 stories. This new area is on the east side of Little Patuxent Parkway.
  4. The Wincopin Circle street is proposed to be extended southward from its current location to run between the current American City building with its parking lot and the Hug Statue / Columbia Association Lake Kittamaqundi amphitheater area and then on past Whole Foods.


Plans for Columbia Lakefront Core Neighborhood

The Lakefront Core Neighborhood, surrounded by the larger Lakefront Neighborhood, is located between Lake Kittamaquandi and Little Patuxent Parkway and is bounded by Wincopin Circle to the north and the access drive to
Whole Foods/ former Rouse Company Headquarters to the south.


Lakefront Core Neighborhood – Connectivity

The Lakefront area has been isolated from other areas of Downtown Columbia due to the design of Little Patuxent Parkway and topography. The Downtown Columbia Plan proposes three new amenity space corridors extending east
to west that will enhance connectivity between the lake and other downtown destinations.

Lakefront Core Neighborhood Active Frontage Plan

As described in the Downtown Columbia Design Guidelines, Lakefront Core is envisioned as a lively, walkable neighborhood connected and oriented to Lake Kittamaqundi where residences, offices, shops and restaurants as well as entertainment, civic, and cultural uses are all integrated.

Lakefront Core Neighborhood Building Height Plan

In character with this vision, buildings range from 1 to 15 stories in height with shared parking facilities and parking facilities integrated either wholly or partially within individual buildings.

Amenity Space, Downtown Columbia

Open spaces, such as plazas, promenades, and greens, are incorporated within the neighborhood, providing connections back to other Downtown destinations and views to the lake. Natural areas flank and buffer the lake, providing trails and shared-use paths that connect to a larger pedestrian and bicycle network.

More info and share your opinion

by Russ Swatek, Howard County Citizens Association

The Design Advisory Panel (DAP) is meeting in the Ellicott Room on Wednesday June 14, 2017 7pm at the County offices to address the Howard Hughes Corp (HHC) newly proposed Columbia Lakefront Core Neighborhood Design Guidelines.

The newly proposed Design Guidelines are at:

The DAP agenda can be found at:

If you have any thoughts about these proposals, then please submit them to the DAP.  The DAP does not take public testimony at their meetings, but written input can be provided in advance of their meetings by using their web input form at:

or by emailing your comments to:

Note that any comments should be there before Tuesday night so the DAP members have a chance to read them prior to their meeting.

Our car-centric culture endangers people and our planet

We allocate an awful lot of space to accommodate the automobile and they are a major cause of global warming. To create a sustainable future, we will need to lessen our dependence on cars and develop alternative means of transport. 

Howard County is beginning to build this future with consideration of  public transportation, development of bike trails, and implementing shared usage of roads. Columbia is grappling with the same issue as we plan for downtown development and rejuvenation of our village centers.

The United States had a very different infrastructure about 100 years ago, until cars took over the roads. How we became a car-centric nation, and what it might look like to share our roads and encourage alternatives to the car are the subject of these articles.

Howard County Complete Streets Policy (DRAFT – October 2016)

Vision: “To ensure that Howard County is a place for individuals of all backgrounds to live and travel freely, safely, and comfortably, public and private roadways in Howard County shall be safe and convenient for residents of all ages and abilities who travel by foot, bicycle, public transportation or automobile, ensuring sustainable communities Countywide.” – Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Executive, Council Resolution 35-2016.

Scope:  The County shall approach every transportation improvement and project phase as an opportunity to create safer, more accessible streets for all users of all ages and abilities, including people who walk, bike, take the bus, and drive cars and trucks. These phases include, but are not limited to: planning, programming, design, right-of-way acquisition, subdivision and land development, new construction, construction engineering, reconstruction, operation, repair, and maintenance. This applies to both new and retrofit projects.

When city streets were a public space

By Nov. 4, 2015

Hester Street, 1914 Manhattan, Lower East Side
Hester Street, 1914 Manhattan, Lower East Side

It’s strange to imagine now, but prior to the 1920s, city streets looked dramatically different than they do today. They were considered to be a public space: a place for pedestrians, pushcart vendors, horse-drawn vehicles, streetcars, and children at play.

“Pedestrians were walking in the streets anywhere they wanted, whenever they wanted, usually without looking,” Norton says [Peter Norton, the author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City]. During the 1910s there were few crosswalks painted on the street, and they were generally ignored by pedestrians.

As cars began to spread widely during the 1920s, the consequence of this was predictable: death. Over the first few decades of the century, the number of people killed by cars skyrocketed.

As deaths mounted, anti-car activists sought to slow them down. In 1920, Illustrated World wrote, “Every car should be equipped with a device that would hold the speed down to whatever number of miles stipulated for the city in which its owner lived.”

The November 23, 1924, cover of the New York Times shows a common representation of cars during the era — as killing machines. (New York Times)

The turning point came in 1923, says Norton, when 42,000 Cincinnati residents signed a petition for a ballot initiative that would require all cars to have a governor limiting them to 25 miles per hour. Local auto dealers were terrified, and sprang into action, sending letters to every car owner in the city and taking out advertisements against the measure.

Most notably, auto industry groups took control of a series of meetings convened by Herbert Hoover (then secretary of commerce) to create a model traffic law that could be used by cities across the country. Due to their influence, the product of those meetings — the 1928 Model Municipal Traffic Ordinance — was largely based off traffic law in Los Angeles, which had enacted strict pedestrian controls in 1925.

Ultimately, both the word jaywalking and the concept that pedestrians shouldn’t walk freely on streets became so deeply entrenched that few people know this history. “The campaign was extremely successful,” Norton says. “It totally changed the message about what streets are for.”

[For more on the auto industry’s campaign to assure that cars had primary use of roads, read the whole article at the link below.]

Murder Machines: Why cars will kill 30,000 Americans this year

by Hunter Oatman-Stanford (Collectors Weekly), March 10, 2014

“If a kid is hit in a street in 2014, I think our first reaction would be to ask, ‘What parent is so neglectful that they let their child play in the street?,’” says Norton [Peter Norton, the author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City].  In 1914, it was pretty much the opposite. It was more like, ‘What evil bastard would drive their speeding car where a kid might be playing?’ That tells us how much our outlook on the public street has changed—blaming the driver was really automatic then.”

1909 Cartoon (Library of Congress)
1909 Cartoon (Library of Congress)

As cities attempt to undo years of car-oriented development by rebuilding streets that better incorporate public transit, bicycle facilities, and pedestrian needs, the existing bias towards automobiles is making the fight to transform streets just as intense as when cars first arrived in the urban landscape.

“The fact that changes like redesigning streets for bike lanes set off such strong reactions today is a great analogy to what was going on in the ’20s,” says Fried. “There’s a huge status-quo bias that’s inherent in human nature. While I think the changes today are much more beneficial than what was done 80 years ago, the fact that they’re jarring to people comes from the same place. People are very comfortable with things the way they are.”

The U.S. Ended Up Much More Car-Dependent Than Europe

Between the 1920s and 1960s, policies adapting cities to car travel in the United States served as a role model for much of Western Europe. But by the late 1960s, many European cities started refocusing their policies to curb car use by promoting walking, cycling, and public transportation. For the last two decades, in the face of car-dependence, suburban sprawl, and an increasingly unsustainable transportation system, U.S. planners have been looking to Western Europe.

The numbers show the need for change. In 2010, Americans drove for 85 percent of their daily trips, compared to car trip shares of 50 to 65 percent in Europe. Longer trip distances only partially explain the difference. Roughly 30 percent of daily trips are shorter than a mile on either side of the Atlantic. But of those under one-mile trips, Americans drove almost 70 percent of the time, while Europeans made 70 percent of their short trips by bicycle, foot, or public transportation.

How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths

by Mark Wagenbuur, who blogs at BicycleDutch

[The Dutch became a car-centric nation similar to the United States, but then they chose a different road.]. 

Featured image at top of post

From Greater Aukland (2014) –

Lt. William H. Schwarz served in Korean War battalion of black enlisted men and white officers

The Korean War began June 25, 1950 in response to North Korea’s launch of a full-scale invasion across the 38th Parallel into South Korea.  My father, William Harry Schwarz of Baltimore MD, had just graduated on June 10th from Virginia Polytechnic Institute with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He married my mother (Jane Frances Imbach) on June 17th.

Lt. William H. Schwarz, Pusan Harbor, Korea

On August 14, 1950, Dad was called to active duty as a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to the 376th Engineer Construction Battalion, 2nd Army, Ft. Meade MD. 

State Army Reserve Unit is Called Up

The Baltimore Sun – July 25, 1950

The 376th Engineer Construction Battalion Reserve, Maryland’s first army unit to be called to the colors, will report for active duty on August 14, the Military District headquarters announced yesterday.  The 376th Reserve Battalion, consisting of Negro enlisted men and white officers, returned to Baltimore last night from Fort Belvoir VA where it had gone only the day before to begin two-week summer maneuvers.

Assembly of 376th Engineer Construction Battalion at US Army Reserve Armory, 301 Fallsway, Baltimore MD (Photograph by Baltimore Sun)

First Maryland Reserve Unit Leaves Tomorrow for Service

The Baltimore Sun – August 24, 1950

Flags will fly and music will set the tempo for marching feet tomorrow when the first Maryland reserve unit, called to active duty since the outbreak of the Korean War, leaves Baltimore for training.  The unit is the 376th Engineer Construction Battalion, made up of Negroes commanded by white officers and led by Lieut. Col. I.H. Ferdinand Hahn, of Pikesville. . . .  Colonel Hahn said the mission of the battalion will be to build roads, airstrips, and installations of a more permanent nature.

Citizens Soldiers Off for Training

The Baltimore Sun – August 26, 1950

Martial music filled the downtown area yesterday as Baltimore’s first citizen soldiers to depart for active duty since the Korean crisis made their farewell salute.  They were members of the 376th Engineer Construction Battalion Army Organized Reserve Corps who entrained at Camden Station for an undisclosed training station.

The 376th Engineer Construction Battalion (Photograph by the Baltimore Sun)

. . . The engineers’ battalion marched from the armory at Calvert and Lombard streets through the downtown section as thousands of office workers and others crowded the sidewalk along the line of march.

Construction Battalion Arrives in Korea

The 376th Engineer Construction Battalion debarked on February 11, 1951 from USNS A.W. Greely and assigned to 8th United States Army Korea (EUSAK)

USNS A.W. Greely

Battalion assigned to repair Main Supply Route near Pusan, South Korea

On May 28, 1951, the 376th Engineer Construction Battalion was assigned the job of supervising the repair and maintenance of the Main Supply Route in the Kyongsang-Bukto Province.

My father was promoted to grade 1st Lieutenant and provided the following Letter of Introduction by the United Nations Civil Assistance Command (in English and Korean) to the Gun Soos and Myon Chiefs:

“At the last Gun Soos’ meeting, you were informed by your Governors and the various Bureau Chiefs that one of the most important jobs to perform at this time is the maintenance of the Main Supply Routes (MSR).  You will be expected to cooperate in every way with Lieutenant Schwarz in the performance of his duty.”

Lt. Schwarz and members of Platoon “on the job in Taegu” (photograph from album of Lt. William H. Schwarz)

Work of Platoon described in recommendation of Commendation Ribbon for Lt. Schwarz

Lt. Schwarz was Commander of 2nd Platoon, Company A, 376th Engineer Construction Battalion. The Recommendation on October 25, 1951 notes:

The Platoon had the mission of road maintenance and bridge construction on the Green Diamond Main Supply Route between Pusan and Taegu, Korea. Located in an isolated position along their road responsibility, the platoon was constantly subject to guerrilla attack. Due to the shortage of engineer troops, the platoon maintained several times the mileage of road normally assigned to an engineer platoon. Material and labor was in extremely short supply.

“The parking lot gang. The Korean is Rimi, my interpreter. The dozer is bogged down in lots and lots of ooze – 3000 years of s_ _ _ .” (photograph from album of Lt. William H. Schwarz)

Lt. Schwarz welded his unit into an efficient construction team.  By personal example and leadership, he inspired confidence and esprit de corps in his troops. The delinquency rate for the platoon became the lowest in the battalion.

Making use of local materials and unskilled indigenous labor, Lt. Schwarz demonstrated unusual engineering ability, and produced highly creditable results. On two occasions the quality of bridges built by Lt. Schwarz in the Pusan area were the subject of letters of commendation to his company. In one case a bridge was built in record time, without interrupting traffic, by means of a temporary structure above the new bridge.

376th Engineer Construction Battalion becomes part of 434th Engineer Construction Battalion (November 19, 1951)

Lt. Schwarz was named Platoon Leader, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 434th Engineer Construction Battalion.

Letter from Lt. Schwarz to parents further describes Platoon’s work (February 10, 1952)

Whenever an asphalt job comes along, it’s dumped into my lap.  Funny what a little experience means.  My asphalt experience is rather slim, except when compared with other officers in the outfit.  Consequently, whenever an asphalt job comes along, it automatically falls to me.  I’m supposed to know all about it.  Just one big bluff – typically Army.

The latest asphalt job is interesting in that it’s a departure from the ordinary – and we are using some new equipment.  The job: putting an asphalt deck on a bridge.  It’s an I beam bridge with timbers placed to hold the asphalt.  The new equipment is a hot-mix plant.  Throw in aggregate and asphalt, and out comes a lovely mix.  We haul in trucks and spread partially by hand.  So far, we’ve been trying to work the kinks out of the plant.

434th Engineer Construction Battalion awarded Meritorious Unit Commendation

Brigadier General Henry K. Kellogg presented the award April 27, 1952 “for outstanding performance of duty in support of combat operations in Korea.”

“Pusan – On line. The General is just arriving.” (Photograph from album of Lt. William H. Schwarz)

Lt. Schwarz discharged; War comes to an end

On July 8, 1952, Lt. Schwarz was released from active duty and given honorable discharge. He was awarded the Korean Service Medal with four Bronze Stars (denoting participation in that number of military campaigns), the United Nations Service Medal, and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.

On July 27, 1953, the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed; all fighting stopped twelve hours later.

Hon. Corrine Brown names the 376th Engineer Construction Battalion among twelve Negro military units deserving of special acknowledgement

In the US House of Representatives, December 15, 2000

“6.8 million Americans served in our military on active duty during the Korean War era; 1.8 million of them in the theater of operations.  Nearly 37,000 Americans died; more than 92,000 were wounded.  The fates of as many as 8,000 more men have never been accounted for.  But thanks to their service and their sacrifices, Korea stands today a free nation, with people proud of their freedom and grateful to the men and women from the United States who came to stand and fight with them in their hour of crisis.

“Among the 1.8 million men and women who fought in the Korean War there were more than 100,000 African Americans.  Black personnel made up 13% of the total military strength in Korea.  Americans of African descent have always served our nation with distinction; from Crispus Attucks at Bunker Hill, to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.  But before 1948, they fought, when they were allowed to fight, in segregated units – denied the opportunity to show their abilities in an integrated setting.

“However, after President Truman’s 1948 executive order and the armed forces compliance forced by the requirements of war, African American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines were quick to show they were every bit the equal of any soldier in combat, anywhere.”

Lt. William Harry Schwarz
November 30, 1926 – December 19, 2010



The BRT is coming to US29 in Montgomery County. Should Howard County be next?

Howard County has few transportation options for people traveling into DC. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) may be a relatively inexpensive option.

Montgomery’s bet on an ambitious Bus Rapid Transit system hinges on Route 29

By Luz Lazo (Washington Post), May 13, 2017 – ABRIDGED

Montgomery County’s years-long plan to build a 14-mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line on one of Maryland’s busiest commuter corridors appears to finally be moving from idea to reality.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who has championed BRT as the county’s next major transit undertaking, included $21.5 million for the project in his capital budget. A County Council committee earlier this month signaled its support for the BRT project, voting to send the plan to the full council for approval of funding for the design phase, putting the project one step away from construction — and closer to a 2020 opening.

The plan as it stands would put buses on shoulder lanes for a portion of the route, but also in regular traffic. This decision, which sacrificed earlier plans to have a reversible HOV lane in the southern portion of the route, cut capital costs by more than half to $31.5 million. Officials say the money will pay for new stations, buses, and new bike and pedestrian infrastructure. The county’s portion will be matched with a $10 million federal grant.

For the complete article, go to:

What is Bus Rapid Transit?

by Institute for Transportation and Development Policy – ABRIDGED

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a high-quality bus-based transit system that delivers fast, comfortable, and cost-effective services at metro-level capacities. It does this Continue reading The BRT is coming to US29 in Montgomery County. Should Howard County be next?

John Swinglish, a member of the Camden 28, has died

John Swinglish was a great man. I met him in 1973 when we were both involved with the Catholic Peace Fellowship near Catholic University in DC.  During this time, he put his life on the line to oppose the Vietnam War. 

I lost track of him about 10 years ago until I learned he died suddenly in early April. His friends will miss him for the quality of his friendship, his easy rapport, and unmistakable laugh. The world is a better place for his witness. It is a story that must not be forgotten.


John Swinglish was born March 25, 1944 and grew up in Lakewood, Ohio near Cleveland. He attended St. Edward High School, and in the early 1960s, he served in the Navy with Attack Squadron VA-42 at the Naval Air Station in Oceana, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Following his military service, John came to DC to work for a defense contractor doing research on nuclear guided-missile destroyers. But he became more and more disillusioned with the country’s war effort and became active with the DC Catholic Peace Fellowship around 1968, attempting to influence the Catholic Church to re-establish its priorities.

In 1971, John was indicted, along with 27 other antiwar activists, for conspiracy Continue reading John Swinglish, a member of the Camden 28, has died

Human Services delivery in Howard County now enhanced with new Nonprofit Center

Howard County is creating a model of collaboration for the delivery of human services.  The New Howard County Nonprofit Center has opened at Patuxent Woods Drive in Columbia. My post about the plans for the Center is here.  The offices will soon be part of a larger Community Resources Campus when several Howard County government offices move to adjacent buildings. 

The Campus will be a one-stop shop for folks in need of assistance. It is centrally located at Broken Land and Snowden River Parkways, and is on several RTA bus routes. 

Proximity can serve to enlarge the world view among participants and foster innovation, for the benefit of the organizations and the clients. It requires the commitment of the agencies to make it happen, and our encouragement. 

Nonprofit center model comes to Columbia

by Fatimah Waseem (Columbia Flier), April 28, 2017

A vision floated more than two decades ago to bring local nonprofit organizations and human service agencies under one roof is materializing in a small corporate park in Columbia.

A dozen local agencies and organizations have moved into the nonprofit center at 9770 Patuxent Woods Drive, which will serve as their headquarters and as a Continue reading Human Services delivery in Howard County now enhanced with new Nonprofit Center