Monday, November 26, 2007

Is That What You Think?

The Columbia Association Board of Directors has placed full page advertisements in several local publications featuring this letter to County Executive Ken Ulman outlining their position on any redevelopment of Town Center.

For the most part the document is fairly innocuous, restating themes that all parties generally agree upon, such as respect the land; create a livable community, more restaurants and businesses and so on.

What struck me was the misleading statement about open space. The letter calls for preserving the “open space” around the Hug statue. That land is not open space. It is private property. CA has plenty of open space under its exclusive control in Town Center. From the looks of things they do a pretty lousy job of maintaining it too.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the CA board instead spent the same amount of energy looking at how their own organization might adapt to a new downtown.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It would be futile for CA to spend energy now attempting to plan to adapt to upcoming proposed changes to Town Center that may or may not be currently defined and have been neither refined, made public, reviewed, nor approved.

The CA Board's letter was effort well spent at this point, commenting directly on matters at hand currently, in this case, the framework. While their letter concisely addressed many points where the framework needs improvement, it did not cover all of the framework's current shortcomings.

Your narrow definition of open space differs from many commonly accepted definitions of open space. Just because it isn't CA-owned open space doesn't make the undeveloped, unpaved, unbuilt-upon land in and around Hug Statue Park not open space.

To replace Hug Statue Park and nearby areas with roadway to extend Wincopin Circle would remove trees and make the adjacent area too loud and unsafe for already existing amenities, such as family movies during summer evenings enjoyed freely by the community. I'd consider such a change a detriment to livability, a detractor from vibrancy, and hard to justify if truly respecting the land.

Tom said...

Anon- So when GGP replaces "the Hug open space" with more open space in other areas thruought the downtown it won't be a positive for downtown? Since when has the Hug been a no touch zone? Monuments and statues are moved all the time. Look at Jim & his brother.

Anonymous said...

When you say "more open space in other areas", does that mean GGP will increase total open space in Town Center? Or do you mean it will be a 1:1 replacement? If it will truly be more, at first glance of course more open space is better than less open space; however, we should be careful to ensure it is functional open space: contiguous (not just a patchwork of ornamental "naturalistic" affectation), natural (not in constant need of mechanized maintenance), healthy (not continuously fertilized and treated with herbicides and pesticides), safe, peaceful, refreshing, and certainly hospitable for wildlife, too.

I don't think the open space around the Hug was ever a no-touch zone merely because of the statue, but, besides the safety and noise impact on adjacent movies and performances, the scope and proposed paths of the framework's traffic study's expanded road infrastructure would put roads through or in close proximity to sensitive environmental areas including streams, wetlands, and/or adjacent or connected open space. The extension of Wincopin Circle, both to the north and to the south, is one of those proposed road expansions.

wordbones said...

Anon,

I am not sure that your concern that a limited service road through the Hug Statue area would pose any greater safety than already exists is valid. First of all, any road through that area would, as I stated, be of limited service. It would not be a feeder road. The fact that this condition already exists on the CA building side of the Hug Statue area should be instructive. No one seems to have a problem crossing from the parking garage to the lakefront and there isn't that much noise either.
-wb

Anonymous said...

Your comparing the proposed Wincopin Street to the existing Wincopin Circle is a good example.

No one seems to have a problem crossing Wincopin Circle from the parking garage to the lakefront because of three reasons: less traffic, lower vehicle speeds, and less pedestrian activity nearby.

The current Wincopin Circle has less traffic than the proposed Wincopin Street would because Wincopin Street would serve through traffic, not just traffic coming to immediately adjacent destinations. The framework's traffic study, in fact, proposes and recommends "roadway extensions that provide a 'more equitable' distribution of traffic" and one of the road extensions mentioned (nine times) and specifically recommended is extending "Wincopin Street to Hickory Ridge Road extended to the south and Vantage Point Road to the north". That certainly implies some of the current or increased future traffic on Little Patuxent Parkway will instead be traveling Wincopin Street.

Through traffic, unfortunately, does encourage higher vehicle speeds. Besides higher vehicle speeds creating greater danger to pedestrians, higher speeds also create more noise and more pollution, too. And, if stop signs are used at any intersections along it, there will be increased noise and pollution from vehicle's reaccelerations after stopping.

Wincopin Circle has pedestrians cross it, but those pedestrians then either walk into adjacent restaurants and other buildings, or they walk a good distance from it, to the lakefront. Conversely, Wincopin Street would have pedestrians spending considerable amounts of time adjacent to it, the example in this case being families attending performances or outdoor movies just a few feet from this through roadway. And, like the recent challenges posed to road safety resulting from cellphone and other internal-to-car audiovisual distractions, combining an outdoor movie screen in close proximity to a through street distracting passing drivers with many pedestrians nearby seems to make for a dangerous combination.

I would like to hear more clarfication of what you mean by 'limited service road', a phrase that, like the phrase "feeder road", appears nowhere in the framework's traffic study.