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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!


Congratulations, Columbia!

Last night, Mary Kay Sigaty won the District 4 Council race with 62% of the vote (with 25 of 28 precincts reporting).  In what some had called a “referendum on the downtown plan,” the community again voted overwhelmingly in favor of moving forward.  This is the second referendum on the downtown plan to prove decisively that Columbia has chosen to embrace its future.

We sincerely hope that this affirmation brings our community even closer together.  We hope Alan Klein continues to participate in the process, and that we find ways to work toward a common vision. Klein’s views might differ from ours, but in Columbia, we respect our differences.

This election is a beginning, not an ending.  Columbia has so much to celebrate, so much to look forward to.  As Jim Rouse said, Columbia will never be completed – as a city or an ideal.

One Columbia, One Future.

A Double Negative

2010 represents something huge for Columbia: the second coming of the original planned community that was so ground-breaking in its day, it’s still awe-inspiring to consider how James Rouse pulled it off back in the 60s.

We’ve seen the creation of a 30-year comprehensive plan created to inject life into a fading downtown, re-invoking Rouse’s ideals – to respect the land, to create a place a for people, and, finally, to create a “real City.”

We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s good work.  It’s environmental restoration of lands and bodies of water that have been sorely neglected; it’s building pathways and walkways that will allow us to travel by foot and bike, on a human level; and it’s a creation of a $43 million housing trust fund to help make these opportunities available to everyone.

As we look at the upcoming elections through this lens, two candidates in Howard County stand out as embodying what we don’t need going forward.

Alan Klein doesn’t have much of a record – a work record or a political record.  The little we know about him is that he likes to oppose things.  He continually criticized the downtown plan, although he couldn’t articulate why exactly.  After that plan passed with overwhelming public support and major re-writes by local government, he helped with a petition effort to take the issue back to the drawing board.  He couldn’t make that happen either.

Now, his one-issue candidacy hinges on unsupportable statements about that same plan.  He continues to rant, for example, that the plan is too much, too soon, despite the fact that it is phased over 30 years and he can’t offer anything better.  And he continues to insist that the plan is unenforceable, despite statements by the Council and legal opinions to the contrary.

Klein doesn’t have a better plan, alternative solutions, or even a reasonable basis for opposing the existing plan.  He doesn’t have any expertise or experience on any of the other major issues he’d have to address as County Council representative.  He just represents a big Dead End.

Liz Bobo began as a pioneer and participant in Columbia.  She was really something.  But times changed and she didn’t.  Her effectiveness has been marginalized to the point that she seems to derive her political power from opposition – to almost everything.  Let’s take a look at some of the things she’s done for Columbia and Howard County:

1.  Fought to “limit additional medical centers from moving to Howard County.”  (Flier, 8/26/10).

2.  Fought to deny Dorsey’s Search’s inclusion in Columbia.

3.  Fought the construction of Route 100. How much did that fight cost us, as taxpayers, with the eventual cost of Route 100 going up so much over the years?

4.  Fought growth in western Howard County by trying to implement 20-acre zoning.  Remember the tractor-cade?

5.  Fought growth throughout Howard County by instituting the draconian concept of a growth moratorium.

6.  Fought for a diminished vision for downtown Columbia.

7.  Fought the current plan for the redevelopment of Columbia’s village centers.

8.  Expressed grave concerns about Wegman’s being constructed.

9.  Opposed Walgreens.

10.  Instituted a land use policy for Howard County while she was County Executive that lost her her re-election bid.

And, this doesn’t even address economic development measures she has resisted over the years.

Columbia needs leaders with courage and vision, leaders who aren’t afraid to “make no little plans.”  We’ve worked hard to keep that founding principle alive.  Let’s not allow these negative candidates to take that away from us.

Alan Klein: Off the Deep End

At the candidates forum Tuesday night, we were absolutely stunned when Alan Klein compared the downtown redevelopment to the Iraq War.  Below is the footage of Klein’s comment – and Brian Dunn’s response.