Commentary: Approve the Plan for Hickory Ridge Village Center

Kimco’s proposal for redevelopment of the Hickory Ridge Village Center is to be considered by the Howard County Design Advisory Panel next Wednesday December 7. Like the rest of Columbia, the issue of increased urbanization at this central community hub is at the heart of controversy.

I support the plan. In the face of continued population growth, suburban sprawl and development of more and more of our natural lands are not sustainable. Higher densities in appropriate locations throughout Columbia is smart growth, will promote public transit, and will serve to improve pedestrian and bicycle amenities.  Two of my previous posts about this subject are here and here.

Some residents of Hickory Ridge formed a group to support Kimco’s revised plan for redeveloping the Hickory Ridge Village Center. Their argument below is one that could easily apply to all of Columbia.

Citizens In favor of a Vibrant Village Center (CIVVC)

Many of us have attended the public meetings Kimco has held and been disturbed by both the tone and substance of the comments made by many in opposition to the plan. The level of uncertainty, fear, and worst-case scenarios has been high in these meetings.

The purpose of CIVVC, then, is to foster a rational dialogue about the merits and Continue reading Commentary: Approve the Plan for Hickory Ridge Village Center

Commentary: Change and Renewal in Columbia

Jim Rouse was an idol of mine, growing up in Severna Park. It was such a thrill for this twenty something in the early 1970s to see Columbia for the first time; to visit the Exhibit Center and take in the architecture and open spaces and design of this new city.  And having studied economics and considered Marxist analysis, I was impressed that the Rouse Company, a shareholder-owned corporation that was driven to make money, created this wonderful city. Continue reading Commentary: Change and Renewal in Columbia

Commentary: Engagement

Improved citizen engagement with the Columbia Association Board was one of my goals as a candidate for CA Board, “so that decisions by the Board reflect the best minds of our well-educated populace.” This should be a goal that all CA Board members can support. The fact that just 4.8% of individuals 18 and over voted in the three villages with contested elections illustrates how much work we have to do to improve participation.  As a public service, following are suggestions Columbians made on facebook and in blogs to improve engagement and increase voter participation. Continue reading Commentary: Engagement

Commentary: I Love This Park

I love the Inner Arbor plan for Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods for so many reasons.

The Inner Arbor Trust recently shared a slideshow that details how the Park’s design has evolved from the earlier plan developed by Cy Paumier and describes the features the park is to include. You can see that slide show at the link provided above. I never understood the Paumier plan as it imposed a rigid, essentially circular walkway on a forest that by nature is irregular and unstructured. The plan disrespected the woods, instead making the walkway and a fountain the centerpiece of the park and linking it to the Mall. Continue reading Commentary: I Love This Park

Commentary: Local Control

How often do we complain about stuff happening around us that is out of our control? I don’t hold that to be true of local government. Our leaders are our neighbors. In county government, Ken Ulman, Mary Kay Sigaty, Calvin Ball, and Jen Terrasa are all Columbia residents. In the course of testifying at public hearings on behalf of nonprofit organizations I’ve worked with and attending various social events, I’ve met these politicians and know them to be honorable people concerned about our community. They will be the first to admit that they are not expert in all things and therefore depend on citizens like you and me to educate them about the issues and their likely impact on the community. Continue reading Commentary: Local Control