Columbia Council Rep Report

CA Board Meeting January 28, 2021

Columbia Association Board of Directors Virtual Meeting

January 28, 2021

NANCY’S NOTES (Click here for meeting agenda and packet.)

Resident Speakout

Carol Kramme spoke about Haven on the Lake. She is a new member and is upset to hear it may be closing.  She asks that CA think of it as a unique place, a refuge, an oasis that Is needed now more than ever. It is need by people who are both alone and living with children.   It is a diverse clientele.  She hopes that it will not be closed.

Alex Hekeimian was unhappy with the Town Hall meeting last week.  He is concerned about the pools in Columbia.  He wants all the pools opened.  He says CA is pitting one pool against the others.  He suggests other facilities can be closed.  Do not always look to the pools since they are the most important facilities CA has.

Brigitta Fessenden lives in Kings Contrivance Village and is very unhappy that the Haven is planning to close.  It is a critical place especially for seniors and those with health issues including COPD.   The salt therapy room helps COPD incredibly well.   She says the Haven membership will once again grow because COVID-19 will be gone hopefully by the middle of the year.   She requests that Haven not close but find other ways to save the money.

Steve Thur, Hickory Ridge resident, spoke about the closing of some pools.  He asks that Clary’s Forest pool be able to remain open.  He is asking why members should pay more if they get less access.  He recognizes challenges but is not happy with the diminution of access.

Sherman Howell spoke about the absence of diversity on the CA Board of Directors.  He says that Columbia is 47% white and 46% people of color.  He is unhappy and suggests, at the least, there are term limits.  He suggests the Board has leaders who represent the town and that the Board convene a resident advisory committee to help select a new president.  He says the Board needs broader input for decision making.

 Board Votes:  Inner Arbor Trust Revised Concept Plan

The Board worked on a motion to accept the new concept plan for the Inner Arbor Trust (IAT).  Some Board members want to get rid of the McCall plan.  The land belongs to CA therefore the residents.  There was a long discussion about the impact of CA approving the new concept plan.  For the IAT to receive funding in the current funding period it needs this action approved.    The Board approved the new concept plan for the IAT.

 Board Discussion:  FY2022 Draft Budget Work Session

The budget discussion included several items including Haven, outdoor pools and establishing a cash reserve fund.  This year, when people are paying as much as ever to live in Columbia, and to be members of CA facilities, they are having pools closed and potentially the Haven will be closed.  If CA is charging as much as ever, it should not be removing facilities from members.

This is the time to attract, not anger, the community by taking things away while – for the first time – $2 million is put away in a reserve fund.  Do we wait until we have reserves before we save any?   It is not logical.  And it is not good for business.

There was a long discussion about outdoor pools and the budget and how this will function this summer.  People will have to reserve for family swims and for lap swims.  It is unknown what all the restrictions will be when the outdoors pools will be open.  These are being carefully monitored.  Hobbits Glen pool will be used for water aerobics classes.  Stay tuned.

When discussing Haven, the question is whether the current members who wrote the letters and spoke out willing to pay more for their membership?  I know I am willing.

Milton Matthews, Columbia Association CEO/President, said that this budget is a response to the pandemic and the current situation.   A couple of Board members think CA needs to stop putting money in the cash reserve fund rather than close outdoor pools and the Haven.  It was explained that the cash reserve or Rainy-Day Fund is put into the capital budget, not operating funds.

Some also think maybe Haven should not be closed this year but give it more time.

Tim Pinel, CA, Chief Marketing Officer gave Board members feedback from the virtual Town Hall event last week.  Dannika Rynes, CA, Sr. Manager of Media Relations & Communications, did a great job hosting.  There about 100 unique viewers on YouTube and on Zoom there were about 103 attending.

The Board talked about ways to make it even better next time.  I hope people will participate.  CA really does want to hear from you.

Board Discussion:  Howard County General Plan Update

There was discussion about themes.   The 5 themes are – life outdoors, quality by design, dynamic neighborhoods, county in motion and supporting economic prosperity.   These overlap so that the county Planning and Zoning group will overlap in its process rather than typical plans that silo the topics.

The resident survey started yesterday and ends February 9.  Please take the survey online:  The county wants to hear from you.

Stay warm and well.  Get your vaccine shots when you are able.



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