Alan Klein is energized. The proposal to transform Symphony Woods into an
Arts Village has awakened his anti downtown Columbia redevelopment activism. Once again he is attaching “Coalition for Downtown Columbia” to his
byline, insinuating that he represents something real and vital to the interests
of the citizens when he mounts his soapbox in opposition.
In a bellicose email sent out yesterday, purportedly on behalf of this coalition, Alan claims the proposed "Inner Arbor" plan would destroy “the serene, park-like environment which we all supported and which was brought to fruition by Cy Paumier's design and which was already approved by the Planning Board.”
This is intentionally misleading. The Cy Paumier plan he refers to may have been approved by the CA board but the Design Advisory Panel, charged with overseeing the cohesion of the downtown redevelopment process, found it inadequate. They directed CA to go back to the drawing board.
It really wasn't much of a plan, particularly when compared to what is now being considered. The key elements were a fountain and a café. There weren't even any restrooms in the plan. The whole café concept was somewhat suspect too. Cy told me that initially it likely would be a mobile café, something that would be wheeled into the park during the warmer months and then parked away during winter. In any other place this would be known as a food truck.
The fountain was a nice design element but it’s not a destination, even if it is interactive. How many times would a family spend an afternoon there?
So who exactly is this coalition that Alan claims to speak for?
He claims that CoFoCoDo is made up over 400 members yet it has no regularly elected board of directors or officers. The membership (or supporters) list is at least five years old. Many of those who initially signed on are no longer supporters. County executive Ken Ulman is listed as a member yet he has wholeheartedly endorsed the new plan for Symphony Woods. I doubt he would have ever signed up if he knew doing so would mean committing to a lifetime of having Alan claim to represent him on issues pertaining to Columbia's downtown.