CA, why hide it? You’re making a good decision here!

The Columbia Association recently created a new Community Development Service Bureau, which, according to this article in the Flier, is “tasked with overseeing CA’s role in the redevelopment of downtown Columbia, as well as master planning and revitalization projects throughout Columbia.”   A little slow on the uptake here, as the redevelopment has been in the planning process for over five years, but kudos to CA for (eventually) doing something that makes sense.

The creation of the bureau includes a new position for Community Planner, which is where Jane Dembner comes in.  She seems to have the expertise and experience to do a great job.  As someone who rides her bike three miles to work on a regular basis, she says improved connectivity is one of her goals (which is fitting, since connectivity is a signature goal of the downtown redevelopment.)  She says, “Columbia was planned by a very visionary person.  CA hasn’t had this position before because it was a planned community. … I do think we have a great start. But how do we expand that?”

Our question is: what is the Community Development Service Bureau? For what seems like such a significant and timely new organization, we couldn’t really find out anything about it online, other than that Phil Nelson mentioned it back in February, and $350,000 was proposed for it every year in the budget back in January.  It is kind of strange that CA doesn’t have any more information about it available publicly, but maybe we are just missing something.  Does anyone have information on this?  E-mail us at if you do!

Seems like this could be a great opportunity for everyone.

UPDATE: Columbia Association’s Manager for Communications & Community Relations Division responded by e-mail to our post above.  Below is what she had to say.  (And thank you to her for the response!)

Thank you for your interest in CA’s Community Development Service Bureau.  We are enthused by the level of talent and passion that our two newest team members, Jane Dembner and John McCoy, will bring to the organization.

In January 2010, CA’s organizational structure was modified to better address the needs of our internal and external stakeholders. This concept, titled the “Service Bureau Model,” was designed to encourage CA divisions and departments to work together, combining knowledge, expertise and resources. Committees comprised of team members representing various divisions within the organization are often formed to collaborate and exchange ideas on major projects and initiatives.  One component in this reorganization was the creation of a Community Development Service Bureau (now the Community Development/Sustainability Service Bureau). This was created largely in response to the overwhelming feedback we got from the Villages who requested assistance with Master Planning and zoning issues.  Recently, we expanded the scope of this service bureau to encompass both Community Development and Sustainability in response to the citizen-driven request for a Watershed Manager and CA’s strategic direction in sustainable operations and programs.  The Watershed Manager is responsible for implementing the programs and projects in the Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan and furthering that work beyond the present initiatives in that plan for future sustainable water quality initiatives, improving the quality of all water bodies in Columbia.

The Service Bureau is also responsible for leading CA’s going green program; acting as the liaison to the county, state and federal government for CA’s Emergency Preparedness and resiliency programs; and coordinating CA’s Capital Improvements Program including our aging infrastructure.  All of this is performed by existing experienced professional CA team members, along with Jane Dembner, our new Director of Community Planning, and John McCoy, our new Watershed Manager who form the core of this Service Bureau.

While we are working to make this information even more accessible on the main CA website,, we do have a robust web site devoted to our watershed efforts,  As the bureau continues to develop and CA strengthens its going green-sustainability and community planning efforts, we look forward to updating our site with additional content on a regular basis.


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One response to “CA, why hide it? You’re making a good decision here!”

  1. Anonymous says :

    I applaud Jane Dembner’s appointment as Community planner as well, but I too have some questions. First is her appointment another staff position under CA board mamnagement? Considering the CA board’s history of staff micro-management and some members continuing reactionary response to the downtown plan (think TAG), this could be a problem for Jane.
    The second question is also problematic. Will Jane be able to coordinate her efforts with other stakeholders, developers,county and state agencies private owners & businesses etc without having CA board approval first?
    In the past the CA board has not been open to anyone including CA assessment payers in its planning or its positions on community issues. $350,000 is a lot of our money in this economy. The Columbia Association definately needs what someone like Jane Dembner can bring to its planning process so I wish her well. I just hope the new Community Service Bureau will be worth the expense.

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