Friday, January 29, 2010

Town Centers Unsung Heroine

In earlier posts I’ve lobbed a couple of zingers at Ken Ulman for what appeared to be his lack of enthusiasm and public support for the Town Center redevelopment enabling legislation, CB 58 and CB 59. I may have been a little too harsh with that criticism.

In his annual state of the county address to the Howard County Chamber of Commerce this past Tuesday; Ken delivered a pretty strong endorsement of the plan that will be voted on this coming Monday.

“Working together, we have created a comprehensive master plan for the revitalization of downtown which incorporates green development, environmental restoration, arts and culture, workforce housing, pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, new amenity areas, transit, and a renovated Merriweather Post Pavilion – all in a carefully phased development plan.

It is important to recognize, as Jim Rouse did, that doing it right is the right thing to do – not only for the benefit of the community, but also to add value to the development itself. As I look at how far we have come, I am proud of what we have accomplished and excited about the future of downtown Columbia.”

More importantly, Ken’s chief of staff, Jessica Feldmark has worked tirelessly behind the scenes over the past few months to keep this effort on track. Those who have been intimately involved in process acknowledge the extraordinary effort she put in to make this a reality. So while Ken may not have been as visible as some in this effort, he does deserve a lot of credit for marshalling his staff to bring it to fruition.


Anonymous said...

For someone who is not a member of the Chamber of Monarchy, you certainly seem to be informed and in synch with them.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely! Jessica certainly deserves our kudos and our thanks! Well done!

Anonymous said...

What did she do?

PZGURU said...

Jessica is just a lackey for the rat-boy. She's a snob, and dispicable, contemptable brat who rides around on politicians's coattails. She applauded at the Crescent Property Planning Board meetings, way back before this whole stages charette and downtown master plan, when County staff were being slammed for SUPPORTING the development. It's funny, she, Ulman, and that other lackey, Ian Kennedy, ALL OPPOSED THE DEVELOPMENT of the Crescent Property on the basis of noise, dust, and traffic concerns. YET, all of them turned around and now support GGP's master plan which calls for more development and traffic than what was ever proposed in the Crescent Property plan. Gee, I wonder what could have caused them to do a 180 degree turnaround? Closed door deals with GGP? Pitiful, shameful, sleazy.

Anonymous said...

Many people have worked very hard on the legislation to allow redevelopment of downtown Columbia, starting with staff members of county government, and ending with, and particularly important, the County Council members who have to actually make the decisions. I don't want to take anything away from Ms. Feldmark, but unsung hero is an unfortunate remark made by the Executive. She may have been his unsung hero since it kept him from having to be involved, but certainly not Columbia's unsung hero. The unsung heros in this drama are the citizens - on both sides, who took the time to inform the conversation.

Anonymous said...

"She's a snob"? What are you, 14? Did she turn you down when you asked her out to Homecoming?

Bob O said...

PZGURU, don't split hairs. C'mon man, say what you mean!

I'm sorry Mr. Anon is ganging up on you.

I really have no insight into this issue, but I do know that most public servants are hardworking people who care about doing a good job for their community. They're good people. Notice, however, that I said "most."

Anonymous said...
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macsmom said...

Perhaps we should be thanking the author of this blog who continues to allow such nasty people to spit at each other (and him) on a regular basis. Good grief, folks, where's the civility?

PZGURU said...

Where's the civility indeed? Ms. Feldmark certainly didn't show any civility when she was hooting it up with the opponents of the Crescent Property plan.

And, where's the civility when the CE and other then-councilpeople sit idly by as COunty staff are threatened with lawsuits for having the audacity to require ALL developers to follow the laws and regulations?

I've even gotten wind that the level of corruption has gotten even worse since Tom Butler was appointed the 2nd Deputy Director for P&Z. Mr. Butler apparently believes it's ok to loosen rules and make special allowances for certain developers, without going through the legal process (either obtaining a variance or a waiver approval). County staff that object to this wheeling and dealing are reprimanded, demoted, or threatened with termination. It's shameful.

Yes, I would like civility. I would also like some honesty and integrity but alas, the current CE and his staff, half of whom are his crony friends whom he appointed to cushy, newly created positions just for them (ie: Mr. Josh Feldmark) are void of such traits.

And, please, Anon, I would have never asked ms f-mark to a prom, I would have gone stag before that thought ever crossed my mind.

Anonymous said...

Feldmark, Ulman et al opposed the crescent big box development because it was wrong for Columbia. Funny how they're always being accused of being on the take from developers - if so, you'd think Ken woudl have supported that to get some much needed money to run for County Exec. It was becasue they knew Howard Co deserved better and immediately sprung into action to kick off what has been a long planning process. The outcome is a plan that experts across the country believe will return Town Center to being the special place it once was. Yes, I agree that they are all aloof and arrogant at times, but that's more the fault of our one-party majority right now. Personality aside, they're supporting what experts and the vast majority of citizens know will be an important positive step for Howard Co.

PZGURU said...

Anon: you obviously do NOT know squat about the Crescent Property proposal. If you did, you'd know that the so called "big box" component of the proposal was removed from the FDP by GGP during the Planning Board hearings.

GGP was legal and technically allowed by right to do everything they proposed in the Crescent Property Plan. Ulman and his cohorts, including one of his close friends on the Planning Commission, blocked the approval, or more accurately, just sat on the plan neither approving nor denying it.
My impression is that GGP threatened to appeal/sue Ulman and the County over this, so Ulman came up with the idea for the charette and promised that he could help get GGP even more development than what GGP was requesting under the Crescent Plan. Hence was born the whole notion of the "need" to redevelop Town Center. After all, there has to be some foundation (even a contrived lie of a foundation) for the new plan. The rest is history.
And, for the record, I strongly support any developer's right to develop their property within the bounds of the law and to make as much profit as they possibly can. The difference with this Town Center master plan is that (1) too many regulations and procedural requirements have been bent and even broken and (2) the Town Center area just can not handle the amount of development proposed. It will be a nightmare as far as traffic circulation. I have said on the record many times, some kind of redevelopment would be good/appropriate, but not what is being proposed.