Tag Archive | Downtown Columbia

I Support CA’s Inner Arbor Plan. Do you?

If so, please sign this petition. The goal was to get at least 300 signatures by this Thursday, when the CA Board is scheduled to discuss and vote on the plan. I think there’s something like 226 right now. Please click the link, sign the petition and encourage your friends to do the same. This is too important to our future to delay.

-Brian

p.s. Here’s what we can continue to expect of Symphony Woods if we don’t act:

A World Class Plan for Symphony Woods

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard about CA’s bold and innovative, “Inner Arbor” plan for Symphony Woods. If not, please read about it here.

First, let me say that I think Michael McCall has hit a home run with this plan, and I hope we can see his vision come to fruition as soon as possible. I’m glad CA realized that this was their chance to give Columbia something truly special, something that could be enjoyed by everyone in our community for generations to come.

The Inner Arbor plan masterfully incorporates art, music, theater, food and culture into the natural setting of the woods. It provides a place where people can gather to enjoy the myriad of events that will take place there. It will not only be a regional and national  attraction, but I predict it will be an international one as well.

I really have a hard time believing anyone could find fault in this plan, but we all know there is a small group of people amongst us who have vowed to do whatever it takes to sabotage real progress in Columbia. Some of them showed up last night and expressed anger at the process and their perceived notion that the plan was hatched in secrecy.

Former Boardmember Russ Swatek even went so far as to submit what has now become known as “The Swatek Memo”, which is a rambling 19 point document, “related to Symphony Woods development spanning the direction of CA, the process being employed, and the plan itself.”

If Russ and Company continue to rally against this plan, they will once again be showing their true no growth colors. Last night I testified in favor of the plan to the CA Board, and I encourage you to do the same. You can write to the entire CA Board here.  Let them know you support moving forward on the Inner Arbor plan!

-Brian

Downtown Drama

Last night, I attended the pre-submission community meeting for GGP’s proposed new development at the mall. I’ll let you read about the drama that ensued here.

One of the things that kept coming up during the question and answer portion of the evening was the fact that the documents and renderings displayed around the room were hard to understand.

Really?

Let me get this straight. You’re not an architect, planner or engineer, but you expect have a good understanding what’s going on in complicated site drawings? Really?

I heard a lot of negative comments, but one in particular really made me angry.  A woman named Ursula Kondo, who I remember from her LTE’s opposing the beautiful new Walgreens at the corner of 175 and Thunder Hill Rd said, “This is a waste of time.”

Really?

Let me get this straight. You’re seeing these documents before they are submitted to the county, yet you think this is a waste of time?  Really? Isn’t MORE community involvement one of your mantras?

Look, it is clear to me that the same tired old voices are trying to remain relevant and will stop at nothing to derail or delay the progress we need downtown. If we thought the opponents of change that tried so desperately to stop the plan before would magically disappear, last night’s drama at HCC is proof that they were just laying low for a while.

Those of us who fought so hard to get the plan passed cannot just sit by and let these people dictate the terms of this process. Stay tuned….

-Brian

Bigotry Trumps Civility

Last Thursday night, I attended the Zoning Pre-Submission Hearing conducted by the Howard Hughes Corporation. After their presentation, they opened the floor to questions and comments. At one point, Joel Broida, one of the more vocal opponents of the redevelopment grabbed the mic and made a comment that literally left my mouth open wide.

Here’s his quote from The Columbia Patch article: “Renters don’t have pride in the community,” he said. “They aren’t the ones to pick up that piece of paper someone dropped.”

Instead of commenting on just how wrong I believe his statement to be, I will instead ask you to read this post by Bill Santos over at Columbia Compass. He sums it up more succinctly that I could ever hope to.

However, I would like to add one thing. It is obvious that Mr. Broida is so against change that he would violate core values of inclusion and diversity we hold dear here in Columbia, just for the sake of complaining. And that’s just sad.

-Brian

hocoblogs@@@

Getting Closer to Shovels in the Ground

We fought long and hard for the changes that will be coming to Downtown, and now we’ll finally get to see the plans for the first project! Tonight at 6:30, Howard Hughes Corp. will present its plans for 817 residential units and more than 76,000 square feet of retail space. The meeting will be held in room 400 of The Rouse Co. Foundation Student Services Hall at Howard Community College. Hope to see you there!

-Brian

Biggest. HoCo BlogTale Party. Ever.

I’ve written about the evolution of the HoCo BlogTale Parties before, and I’m happy to say that tonight’s promises to be the biggest one yet. As of now, over 100 people have registered or the event, which is being co-sponsored by The Baltimore Sun.

These parties are a great way to meet new people and connect with the community. See you there!

-Brian Dunn

#hocoblogs

Columbia 4.0?


We started Columbia 2.0 in 2008 as an outlet for a younger generation of Howard County residents to engage in the debate over the future of downtown Columbia. We were among the first to embrace new media and social networking to reach our audience. We started this blog, as well as a facebook page and twitter account.

We taught ourselves video production, and we rallied supporters to testify in favor of the legislation that was eventually passed. Looking back, we did some great things, but admittedly, there were some things we could have done differently. That’s what happens when you take risks and learn on the fly.

So now that we’re 3 years in, it’s time to take a step back and try to imagine where the next wave will take us. To find out, I recently spoke with social media expert and current member of Howard County’s Leadership Program, Nichole Kelly.

As one of the country’s preeminent Social Media Consultants, she preaches the importance of measuring social media in a meaningful way. Kelly feels the upcoming downtown redevelopment is a perfect example of how key stakeholders can maximize their intended results.

I asked Nichole what recommendations she would have for Columbia 2.0 to not only get to the next level, but to stay ahead of the game:

“Now that you have successfully engaged a younger audience on the future of downtown Columbia, the big question is whether or not you can mobilize them to help downtown Columbia become their local hotspot. The reality is that many young people still make the trek to downtown Baltimore to hang out with friends rather than staying here in Columbia. I would recommend building a social media strategy around showing your audience why it’s cool to stay in Columbia and hang out locally.

As construction begins, you can work to change the perception of downtown Columbia in the mind of the county’s young adults and you can do this in a way that you can actually measure whether or not it works. The beauty of social media tools is that you can create campaigns that encourage users to tell you where they are. A popular tool many young adults used is called Foursquare (link). You can put together local events in area bars and restaurants and tell people to use this application to ‘check-in’ if they attend. Done well…you can actually show the rise in restaurant revenues from your target market over time and once the construction is complete you will have a loyal audience to support our local businesses. That’s a win for the future of downtown Columbia and a win for our local residents.”

Now here’s a woman that gets it! It’s no surprise she is nationally recognized for creating social media strategies that deliver results. Recently she teamed up with Hootsuite for a whitepaper series that talks about how to measure social media to core results. The next whitepaper will be available for download on Wednesday followed by a webinar on Thursday. I know I will be tuning in, and if you’re interested in how social media can help you, your business or organization, I suggest you do the same!

-Brian Dunn

Getting it Done for All of Us

We sat down with the Columbia Association‘s Jane Dembner the other day to talk redevelopment, village center master plans and how CA is building relationships for the good of its stakeholders.  It is truly exciting to see everyone coming together on our community’s plan!  Thanks, Jane, for all your hard work and your vision.

One Year Ago

This week marks the anniversary of the historic passage of CB 58 & 59. After 5 years of charettes, meetings, hearings, work sessions and discussions, our County council voted unanimously to approve the bills that are now providing the framework for the development of Downtown.

At times, it seemed like it would never get done. But we, as a community, believed in a bold future for Columbia. So we pressed on and we are beginning to see real progress.

It’s been an interesting 12 months to say the least. The opponents of the plan continued to try to derail things, but they failed. The county executive and county council who worked so hard on the plan were unanimously re-elected; supporters of the plan continued to turn out in overwhelming numbers to public hearings on the conforming legislation; the Adequate Public Facilities provisions were passed; and now we’re knee-deep into finalizing the guidelines for design and signage.

We’ve come a long way, but there is still important work to be done.  Let’s keep it moving, Columbia!

“If you don’t create change, change will create you”

 

Yesterday, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman gave his annual State of the County speech.  He talked about managing well, partnering well, and investing well – the “principles that have guided this administration from Day One.”

The two things that stood out to us were his comments on downtown (of course!):

I am extremely proud of the community effort that we went through for downtown Columbia. The master plan we passed last year embodies the vision and values of the community, respects our history and establishes downtown Columbia as a dynamic, attractive place to live, work and play.

And his emphasis on the impact from the coming expansions at Fort Meade (BRAC and Cyber Command):

… after talking about base realignment for years and seeing jobs trickle in, we’re now poised to see the flood of jobs we’ve heard so much about. Already, 500 positions have been moved on base, and by September, that number will grow to 5,800 -- over 5,000 new jobs in 9 months. That’s staggering.

And by the end of 2012, we are expecting an additional 15,000 private sector jobs to have accompanied this expansion….

Wow.  There is no question: Columbia and Howard County will see some stunning changes in the next few years and decades.  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we can look at change as a problem or as an opportunity – but either way, it’s coming.

We choose to embrace change proactively, and we believe Columbia, with our tradition of “creative, forward thinking community planning,” is a great place to do that.

___________________________________________________________________________________

If you’re interested in more of what the county executive had to say, you can read the full text here or watch it on video on Comcast Ch. 99/Verizon Ch. 44:

January 25 – 7 p.m.
January 26 – 1:30 p.m.
January 27 – 11:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.
January 28 – 1:30 p.m.
January 29 – 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
January 30 – 1:30 p.m.

Tomorrow’s Downtown

Phil Engelke is a local architect and urban planner who has worked on projects all over the globe. Last week he was kind enough to walk around Columbia’s underutilized downtown with us to talk about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as we begin our redevelopment.  Thanks, Phil!

Back in March of last year, on a much nicer day, my sister and I went to the lakefront in hopes of interviewing people there about what they wanted to see Downtown.  The only problem was, there was no one to interview…

Cultural Diversity in Columbia: It’s A Good Thing!

Next up on the agenda for the Downtown Plan?  The drafting of a Cultural Master Plan for Downtown, as required in the legislation.  Hired for this purpose at the developer’s expense is Lord Cultural Resources, the largest cultural planning firm in the world, with an impressive resume that includes The World Trade Center Memorial Museum in New York, the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

As part of the process, a Cultural Advisory Committee has been meeting extensively with the community to get their ideas on what that plan should look like.  Since September, there have been two large community-wide public meetings and four focus groups (one each for teens, young professionals, parents of young children, and older adults).  Following that, a survey went out via e-mail so that anyone who is interested can participate.

The survey is here, and the message that went out with it reads:

It is important that your voice be included to ensure that a wide range of ideas and perspectives are shared with the Advisory Committee.  Please share this link with your organization’s database as well as family, friends and others who might be interested in providing their input.

For me and Columbia 2.0, it is truly exciting to see the nuts and bolts of the plan coming together.  But, it seems not everybody views this as an opportunity for inclusion.

Recently, I witnessed an individual from the Columbia Association camp dismiss the Cultural Advisory Committee’s efforts to reach out to the community as disingenuous, after a community member had expressed excitement about receiving the survey to participate.

This attitude is really disheartening.  We should be encouraging community participation, not repressing it. Can’t we expect someone associated with CA to promote involvement and diversity in a public plan?

There’s something very wrong when the people who represent our community question the value of participating in it.

- Brian Dunn
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