Columbia Council Rep Report

CA Board Work Session January 14, 2021

Columbia Association Board of Directors Work Session

Thursday, January 14, 2021


(Click here to view the agenda and packet.)

Resident Speakout

Matthew Schell spoke about the Clippers and CNSL.  CAA is a 46-year-old non-profit program that helps with the Clippers and annual high schools swim meets.  They work with others to support the swimming community of youths. There are 2,400 youths in the CNSL teams with 40 different coaches.  He is grateful that CA plans to open outdoor pools this summer and appreciates the pools available for the CNSL.

Eric Kusmaul from Wilde Lake is chair of the Columbia Association Aquatics Committee.  The committee is fully in support of opening 15 pools.  If there cannot be 23 this year, they are glad for the 15.  Not having a pool is tough on families.  They are all looking forward to some semblance of a typical summer at the pool.

Alex Hekemian said there was a discussion of the CA budget at the Oakland Mills Village Board meeting.  Talbot Springs pool has the highest percentage of Black and Latino children in Columbia.  The desire to not open this pool this summer is a social statement – or read as such.  This needs to be reconsidered.  CA should not pit one pool against the others.  They should all be open.

Laura Torres, Vice Chair, Wilde Lake Village Board spoke about how the pandemic has affected the community, CA and the villages.  It is requested that CA allow the villages to keep the cash reserves they have this year- FY2021, as they did last year FY2020.

Paul Verchinski spoke about the budget.  He had several issues with it and apparently was not happy with it.

Work Session Topics:  Discussion – FY2022 Draft Operating and Capital Budgets

Using the strategic plan established by the Board last year, the Board was told how this draft budget was framed. There is concern about how people will react when life returns to something called normal. CA must continue to invest in cyber security and digital media.

Board members were allowed to ask questions and make comments first.

Dick Bolton first asked about the Haven situation.  He asked if it is wise if it’s not really saving that much money by closing it.

I spoke up about the Haven.  The only CA location in downtown is the Haven. There are going to be condos built right there soon.  Why would CA turn away from this location now when there will be members right outside the doors?  Yoga and Pilates locations have been closing permanently.   Haven provides these classes with less and less competition.

If there is not have a rent abatement of $1 million annually, why would CA no longer provide services that will only grow as the COVID-19 situation improves?  Haven is not an elitist location.  It was first marketed that way, but CA has neglected really changing the way Haven is seen by the community.   I put the blame on CA for never doing the things that had been discussed to bring more people to the Haven.  Also, there is now a new marketing and communications team who will be able to help build up the name and idea of Haven.  Making Haven memberships separate from the Fit & Play memberships also separates it from the other CA facilities.  The idea should be bringing the facilities together.

Board members discussed several issues including pools. Town Center would like to see Running Brook pool opened.  However, Running Brook is the least used pool.

The Board was told that there were plans to make changes to Haven before COVID-19, but because of the pandemic, there was not the funding to move forward.  Communication. Communication. Communication. Staff made these proposals to close Haven and not open eight pools.  There was no discussion with the Board of Directors before these proposals came out.

Apparently, it will cost CA a good deal of money to close Haven.   CA may still need to pay the annual rent of $1 million.   It makes no sense to me, because it will cost a few million to close it down.  But it is expected to have a $500,000 savings.

There was discussion about the economic downturn and pandemic.  As Milton said, there is a double whammy as opposed to 2008 when it was only an economic downturn.  The economy is expected to be impacted for the next three to four years.

Work Session Topics:  Inner Arbor Trust Revised Concept Plan

The IAT has created a new concept plan, replacing the one that was created several years ago.  It will be significantly less expensive and could conceivable be built in the next five years rather than 10 or more years.

Work Session Topics:  Communications Strategy

The new communications and marketing team plans to build better systems and reach out better to the community.  The plan is extensive and comprehensive.  If you are interested in seeing the plan, please look at the packet for this meeting on the website.

There was a brief discussion about allowing the villages another year to maintain their reserves for this year.  Just as CA is creating a cash reserve account, the villages also need to create these accounts because they too are having a very difficult time because of COVID-19 and not being able to rent out their facilities.

Remember, January 21, 2021, 7 pm will be a virtual town hall meeting.  Your questions are welcome.  Check out the website for further information.

Stay safe.  Get your vaccine when you are able and take good care.


Nancy McCord

Email – [email protected]