Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Inner Arbor Testimony for Planning Board

To get everyone revved up for Thursday's continuation of the planning board meeting on Inner Arbor, I figured I'd post my testimony from November 6! I did ad-lib a couple of times, but this is what I submitted to the Planning Board as I wasn't sure I'd be able to speak. One reason I ad-libbed was the awesome presentation that Michael McCall gave that night. It inspired some ideas that I thought needed to be said again. But I think you, intelligent readers, will get the gist of my testimony.

My name is Kirsten C and I have been a resident of Town Center since 2003 in the Governor's Grant neighborhood. 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. It uses some creativity & outside-the-box thinking, which the 2010 Paumier plan that this board rejected did not. When I saw the 2010 plan, I was very disappointed in the lack of creativity. The 2010 plan had no energy in it. The IA plan includes opportunities of new spaces to meet with friends, allow children to play and host community events to create special memories.

Tonight I’m excited that Phase 1 – the Chrysalis – is up for approval. This is my favorite part. I hope would be a destination for smaller bands, a speaker series, library events and our local public school children. One opponent of Inner Arbor said that we should just use Merriweather Post. However, Merriweather Post is owned by a corporation that puts on shows to make money. The public sector partnership that our county has forged with them over the past few years is growing stronger & should continue that way. However, if they used that space for an author-led book club event instead of having sold-out concerts, I would question their sanity. Symphony Woods, on the other hand, is a quasi-public space that is more appropriate for community events.

This is a hole in our community. I have lived in Town Center for 11 years, waiting & waiting for something to happen. For these spaces to be attractive & open for all – I finally have the Metropolitan, Wilde Lake is being renovated and Maggiano’s and Seasons 52 offer fine dining outside my door. Finally. When Seasons 52 & the library hosted a party for the Howard County bloggers a few weeks ago, I was describing where I live by gesturing up the hill. As a friend (Village Green/Town Squared) noted what I said: “Yes, right there! In those townhouses, right there. And I've been waiting and waiting for this (she gestured around her) to happen." I don’t want to wait until my daughter has gone to college for Symphony Woods to become something to visit. I want people to say to us when we say we’re from Columbia, Oh that’s a great place with that pretty lakefront and that cool park & that awesome mall.

I am proud that my council member, Mary Kay Sigaty, has been a champion for this project and supports creating a vibrant downtown district in Columbia. Saving Symphony Woods is an empty mantra – there is nothing to save. Inner Arbor brings life to a dead, wasted area of my neighborhood. 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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