Friday, July 11, 2014

Inner Arbor Testimony

I had never done this before last night. I had never gone to a Columbia Association meeting, being content to let others "do stuff."

But this week, I HAD to. As Tom Coale writes in his blog today, "Eventually, you hand off to someone else." He is already on record as being a supporter, most obviously, because he voted for it last year before he followed the CA Ethics code  & resigned his seat before running for House of Delegates.

(C'mon, you didn't think I would get through a blog post without mentioning Tom, right? Oh, and my little cat, Disney, who is dreaming of a mouse chase right now next to me.)

So I put on some mascara & dressier clothes than just my summer shorts (I didn't want to be told I was too informal!) and signed in to the Resident Speak-out around 6:55. Julia was happy to let me join her on a comfy seat overlooking Lake Kittamaqundi. I need not have worried about my clothing - it was casual. I was glad to see other friends & chat about the upcoming meeting, because I got distracted by it.

I have been a little bit nervous to have people put a face with my name. Actually, the hubby & my mom are worried. But I support this plan. I don't think everything is my cup of tea, but how can everything be? Luke doesn't like roller coasters, but that doesn't mean he's never going to King's Dominion. I don't boycott the mall on the basis of not liking one or two stores. And I owe it to people like Tom & Michael McCall & others who have put a lot of effort, energy and their reputations in some cases on the line to support this plan.

Note: After I spoke, I left soon thereafter to have dinner with my family. I walked by an opponent from the Howard County Citizens Association who GRABBED my wrist VERY tightly. I struggled to get away as she tried to persuade me to oppose the Inner Arbor. I kept saying "I am leaving. I am going." Meanwhile, another speaker had the floor & I was trying not to be discourteous. Of course, another anti-IAT guy hissed nastily at me "You had YOUR time" as I extricated myself from her grip. I said, "It wasn't me!" But what could I do? I was livid. I wanted to walk back in & scream at him that it was HIS ally that was making the noise, not I.  OK, deep breaths...

Luke showed me a move to get someone to release the wrist, but I was trying to be low-key making my way out so I don't know that I would/could have handled it differently. The anti-IAT crowd seems to literally use strong-arm tactics.

Here's my testimony - I may have ad-libbed a couple of things in addition. I felt like I might been a little strident or somewhat sarcastic, but feedback has been very positive.


My name is Kirsten and I have been a resident of Town Center since 2003 in the Governor's Grant neighborhood. I realize that my 17 total years of residence in Columbia do not count in the eyes of some pioneers & I cannot repeat Jim Rouse aphorisms from memory, but I plan on living here for the next 20 years. I am tired of some sacred vision impeding progress. Symphony Woods’ disuse has been a sore subject for me throughout as it's practically my front yard. 

The Inner Arbor plan has piqued my interest. The current plan is within the concept authorized by CA previously. And it at least shows some creativity & outside-the-box thinking, which the 2010 Paumier plan did not. In fact, when I saw that plan, I said, "Huh? This is all we can do? Where's the creativity?"

I think it's fine if we're the test lab for some of these concepts. My favorite part is the Chrysalis, which I hope would be a destination for smaller bands, a speaker series and our local public school children. 

Columbia Association, my apologies, but it's true, has done a mediocre job over the past several years utilizing the Symphony Woods space. The only significant use of that park is by the Howard County Parks & Rec Department. It is clear that politics have stymied every attempt to do something productive and placing the project in a separately incorporated 501c3 entity insulates it from political grandstanding such as this. Some members here tonight exemplify the need to take this project out of direct Board involvement if anything is ever going to be done. Just as opponents have done dozens of times in looking to repeal Obamacare, you are wasting time, our time. However, unlike our House of Representatives, you do not get paid for your service here, which is the only slightly positive thing I can find in this childish & ridiculous fight against an unorthodox plan that used to be the sort of innovation that Columbia was known for.

I look forward to seeing the concept of Inner Arbor become a physical reality for my family to enjoy.

Thank you.


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