There are approximately 8,000 acres of surface parking in Montgomery County. This is just one of the insights provided by Rollin Stanley in his lecture in Columbia Tuesday night.
To put this into perspective, 8,000 acres is over half the size of Columbia.
Rollin was in Columbia at the invitation of Bring Back the Vision to share his views on the need and desirability of compact development. He is the Planning Director for Montgomery County who was recruited from St. Louis a little over a year ago to help the county manage its growth. According to this story by Sarah Krouse in the Washington Business Journal, Stanley believes the county needs to “eliminate its strip malls, use surface parking lots for high-rise developments and encourage residents to bike and walk to stores. Stanley added that eliminating cul-de-sacs and slowing down traffic on main streets are key to improving an area's walkability.”
Some of his other key points were:
-18% of county resident’s household costs are taken up by transportation.
-There are more cars than people in Montgomery County.
-Howard County will never have the density to justify a subway extension, even with the proposed additional residential units in Town Center.
About 60 people attended the evening lecture at the Vantage House in Town Center, among them were Councilperson Mary Kay Sigaty and State Senator Jim Robey.
It’s a too bad more folks didn’t turn out. Rollin Stanley is a dynamic speaker who peppers his talk with humor. He may not have changed any minds about GGP’s proposed plans for Columbia Town Center but at least he provided a compelling argument for giving it serous consideration.
I always feel a little funny about going to meetings in Vantage House. The community room is certainly one of the nicer meeting facilities in Town Center but there is just something that always makes me feel a little uncomfortable about my own mortality when I go into that place.
Perhaps it is because of the signs like this one that I spotted in the elevator.