Thursday, November 30, 2006

Enough Already

I took a brief hiatus from blogging to enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays. I also did not feel the need to add to the dialogue on any of our local news items. The other Howard County bloggers were doing just fine.

Until now...

I have recently had the opportunity to speak with Barbara Russell, the Columbia Council representative from Oakland Mills and I have come to the conclusion that she is clueless. I happened to mentioned to her that the commercial property owners do not have any vote in Columbia elections, even though they contribute over a quarter of the CA assessment income.

She said that wasn't true.

I told that it was and to prove the point I asked her what village Columbia Gateway Corporate Park was in.

She didn't know.

I do. It isn't in one.

This is no small issue. To not understand that a significant source of your assessment income comes from disenfranchised property owners is inexcusable, particularly for someone who has been on the board as long she has. In other words, I believe she's clueless.

Ms Russell is also beginning to flex her seniority muscles more and more on the council. The latest example is her participation in the group that does not want to extend Maggie Browns contract. Maggie Brown is the president of The Columbia Association. She has served in this role for five years. She has admirably guided an organization with a $50 million dollar annual operating budget while dealing with a Board of Directors that can best be called dysfunctional.

I find Cynthia Coyle, the Harpers Choice Columbia Council representative, to be worrisome as well. While I have not had the opportunity to speak with her directly I have recently attended a meeting and watched her in action. The people in Columbia should be concerned. Very concerned.

It is interesting to note that the CA website does not contain any information on the backgrounds or qualifications of the board members. These are the people making policy decisions for a large organization that touches the lives of everyone in Columbia. They are often elected by fewer than 300 votes!

What will it take to change this?

I spoke with Guy Guzzone at a cocktail party about this very issue. The majority of the assessment paying population of Columbia simply does not have the Columbia Council on their radar screens. It is amazing that such an educated and informed populace can be so out of touch with what is happening in their own community. Until that changes The Columbia Association is destined to be run by some people who ordinarily would never be entrusted with much more responsibility than dogcatcher.

In my not so humble opinion that is!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Foot Traffic

The Howard County Department of Planning & Zoning has published the Howard County Pedestrian Master Plan - Final Draft outlining priorities for pedestrian improvements throughout the county.

It appears that there is very little in the plan for the old town area of Ellicott City. In fact most of the improvements slated for this area are slated for either mid term or long term time frames. It is a shame that more thought wasn't given to creating better connections with the old town and the adjoining areas of Patapsco State Park. With the opening of the new Grist Mill Trail, it would be nice if we could have some better connections here.

On the other hand, there seem to many improvements planned in the short term in the area surrounding The Mall in Columbia. That makes sense. Right now walking around the mall is not for the meek of heart.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Roaring Mice

The publisher of the Business Monthly wrote a great letter in this months issue.

I couldn't agree with her more!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wednesday Morning Hangover

It looks like Ken will enjoy his trip to California this weekend. Congratulations Ken! I hope you and your bride enjoy a much needed rest.

I hope Chris has a getaway planned as well. He too deserves a break after running a very spirited and intense campaign.

What messages do I get from the election results?

1) COPE was a big NOPE. Angela Beltram and her minions were less than advertised in influencing voters. Cooler heads prevailed.

2) Democrats for Merdon were a very small group. The only ones behind those individuals who stood beneath the people tree pledging their support to Chris were the gold plated figures on the people tree.

3) We may not know who represents District One until Thursday. Tony did better than many expected him to. This is the one race besides the Governors that could be decided by absentee ballots.

4) Being a member of the Colloseum Gym on Red Branch Road in Columbia continues to be good luck for county exec candidates. Chuck Ecker is a member, Jim Robey is a member and Ken Ulman is a member. Chris Merdon is not a member.

5) The people in Howard County are more informed than I thought. The strongest evidence of that was Allen Dyer failing to win a seat on the school board.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Some Random Musings...

What will the various Howard County blogs (Ho Co Hayduke, Howard County Maryland Blog, Columbia Compass, Fineline, et al) occupy themselves with after next Tuesday?

Post election analysis and general bellyaching can only last so long.

Does anyone else find the traffic patterns at Columbia Crossing (Target, Dick's, etc..) maddening?

It is extremely frustrating trying to navigate around those various stores and parking lots on a weekend. It is only going to get worse as we approach the holidays. Forget Town Center planning, we need a charette for Columbia's suburbs!

And speaking of bad shopping center layouts, the Long Gate Shopping Center (Target, Safeway, Kohls, etc.) in Ellicott City is another one. I think the land planner who laid that one out should be made to direct traffic there on weekends.

If you ever want to make a point to your kids as to why they should stay in school, take them by those guys who stand on the corners around the Columbia Crossing shopping area swinging those Ryland Homes signs. That's their future without an education.

I happen to think that the Home Depot in Columbia is the worst one on the planet. Just my opinion. I cannot wait for Lowes to open.

Last week, on our way back from the eastern shore, my partners and I decided to stop into the Rams Head Tavern on West Street in Annapolis. Within five minutes we realized that Anne Arundel County still hasn't "gotten it" with the smoking thing. We Howard Countians have become spoiled. Next time we'll wait till we cross the Ho Co border.

Best places to meet for beers in Howard County?

Clyde's, Kelseys, Green Turtle, Ellicott Mills Brewing Company...

Anyone I missed?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm A Little Confused...

I was just reading the Executive Summary of the Coalition for Columbia's Downtown.

It calls for 20% "of the lot area of each individual parcel be devoted to public open space."

Existing New Town zoning requires that 36% of the land be dedicated to open space. Are they suggesting that the amount of open space in Town Center be reduced?

Or are they suggesting that an additional 20% on top of the 36% be set aside for open space in Town Center?

Or is this simply evidence that they are clueless?