When Less is Not More

Mike Davis of New City Alliance contacted us yesterday after his Letter to the Editor appeared in the print version of the Columbia Flier.  He was disappointed at the edited version that appeared in print, which seems to be more about Kimco’s plans for the Wilde Lake Village Center, and less in support of Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty.

He explained that his intent was to respond to Mike Berla’s letter from August 5th, which Mike Davis, a longtime Wilde Lake resident who has followed the village center saga closely, took issue with.

(We remember Berla’s letter itself and were so amazed at how it misrepresented the facts, we’ve got to admit, we just rolled our eyes and moved on.)

So, Mike sent us both versions of his response, which appear below.  Draw your own conclusions.

Dear Editor:

The silly season is surely upon us, for nothing could have been more silly than Mike Berla’s letter about Kimco’s proposal for Wilde Lake Village Center (Flier, August 5th).  The premises set forth by Mr. Berla were so erroneous that no reasonable conclusion can be drawn from them.

First, Mary Kay Sigaty did not sponsor any legislation regarding the village centers. What she did do was to take a bill that was filed by Kimco and, working with the community and the other members of the County Council, help craft a bill that provided real and substantial community input into any significant redesign of a village center.  This opportunity for community input did not exist before.

Second, Kimco has at least two hurdles to jump before any construction can begin.  It must get approval from the village board’s architectural committee for covenant compliance, and it must satisfy the County’s requirements as set forth in the new legislation.  Should Kimco choose to ignore community input in this process, it does so at its own peril.

Third, the process that Kimco and the Wilde Lake Village Board are going through right now reflects how much community input there really is under the new legislation.  One evening session and three listening sessions have just been completed, providing residents the opportunity to give feedback, with more opportunities to come.

Finally, the proof must surely be in the pudding.  While everyone may not like the current design that has been rendered by Kimco, there is universal agreement that Kimco did incorporate community input into that design.

Building a case against Mary Kay Sigaty, as Mr. Berla has attempted to do, is difficult because Ms. Sigaty has done a tremendous job of representing her constituents in Wilde Lake and the rest of her district.  Maybe that’s why Mr. Berla must resort to twisting the facts to suit his purpose.

Michael W. Davis

Wilde Lake Village

UPDATE: last night, the Flier printed Mike’s letter in full in its online version.  You can see it here. Thanks, Flier!


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2 responses to “When Less is Not More”

  1. Mary Pivar says :

    Well, I am late to this. but what the hey.
    Just for the record, MKS did not “work with the community” re the Village Center redevelopment.
    The Village Board did however. Townhall meetings were held, surveys sent out, elections held.
    Residents overwhelming wanted and expressed both a need and a value for a village center which provided the necessities for daily life for those hundreds living adjacent and more hundreds who supported Giant until they left. The village board drafted a set of 6 principles/positions to to which they have held, several internationally known architects have honored and are working with the WLVB.
    MKS worked only with Kimco, Mike Davis, and never did her homework re what the residents of the village needed. As an attorney, you may be legally correct in stating MKS did not sponsor the bill.
    But supporting, forwarding etc. from a position of
    influence, matters…..agreed? Got M. Berla on a lega
    technicality, maybe, but not a pragmatic, realistic one.

  2. Michael Davis says :

    Understand, Mary, that a councilperson has no power, no authority and no mandate to dictate what stores should be located in a village center. All the County Council can do is provide a mechanism that will allow community input into the design and use of that center. And that is exactly what Mary Kay Sigaty did – she helped implement a process that will allow and even promote that kind of input. It is now up to us, the community, to work with the Village Board and with Kimco to provide our voice to this process. So far, the results of our input seem to have been heard.

    This does not mean, of course, that a full-service grocery store will be included. If market and demographic conditions were such that Wilde Lake Village Center was an attractive location for a grocery store, it is my belief that Kimco would jump at the chance of bringing in such an anchor. That would solve the tremendous problem of finding a viable anchor to a shopping center that is in desparate need of an anchor. But those conditions just don’t exist right now.

    And, if you want a good illustration of this problem, take Liz Bobo’s campaign. Instead of shopping for campaign supplies for a fundraiser (food, etc.) in her own district (such as Harper’s Choice or Hickory Ridge), Liz went shopping at Costco. Just like so many other people in Columbia. So, you can see the challenge any grocery store would have with Wilde Lake Village Center. This is a challenge for which an answer has not yet been found.

    One thing is for sure, however, the answer to the challenge of finding a grocery store for Wilde Lake will not be found by any legislative initiative in the County Council. As Pogo once said, and as Liz’s actions illustrate, “we have seen the enemy, and the enemy is us!”

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