Columbia Association Board of Directors
March 12, 2020
Resident speak out
Mary’s McGraw spoke about the Neighborhood Centers and their importance to the community. Mary is the founder and on the board of The Village in Howard. They have been located in Stevens Forest Neighborhood Center. They appreciate having that space. They have about 35 activities a month for the members of the Village.
Downtown Columbia Changes
Greg Fitchett, President of Howard Hughes Corporation for the Columbia region, spoke about all the changes made to our fair city in the Merriweather District, land around the Mall, and downtown along LPP at the Lake. He explained that he sees HHC’s role as the successor of The Rouse Company.
There are 37 CEPA’s which are improvements in the community that HHC is completing for the benefit of the people who live and work in Columbia. The park at the lakefront that HHC owns is a small portion outside of the Haven. It will include a Memorial to veterans.
Juniper is the first apartment to open and people are beginning to move in now. Included in Juniper are affordable units. HHC has completed 6 major projects in downtown. There is 3 million square feet of buildings in the Merriweather district, which will be completed over the next few years. This will be a “high density, walkable urban place” according to Mr. Fitchett. Included will be an outside ice rink during the winter months.
At the lakefront there will be about 3,000,000 square feet built. Health and wellness tower to be built in 2021. The lakefront neighborhood will focus on health. The hope is to get Silver Leed Certification on all the new buildings. They would like Gold but that remains to be seen. There will be free WiFi throughout. They are also planning to have STEER technology. It will allow cars to park themselves. “Your car has to park, you don’t” is the expression used by STEER.
Economic impact: It is expected to create 43,000 new jobs when all is completed. $2.5 Billion in annual wage/salary/ proprietor income. $88M in annual tax revenues.
This will attract the new workforce. There is expected to be about 30,000 workers living and working downtown.
Greg stated that he is hoping and working to create some new modes of transportation to move people from place to place. The future needs to be created, not left to create itself. He encouraged the board to speak to our state and county representatives to help them understand the need of dedicated right-of-way where we can have auto vehicles to take small groups of people from place to place.
Howard Hughes Corporation is a publicly held company. They are well capitalized and do beautiful developments around the country. There was a beautiful visual presentation that actually used photos of the new development that looks as good or better than the drawings we saw before the buildings were in place.
Update on Additional Swim Lanes for the Clippers
Dan Burns, Director of Sports and Fitness, spoke about the Aquatics Indoor Pool Schedules. The team spoke about the problems with centralizing the Clippers schedules. Lap swimmers have controlled prime time. Families have had problems because of this. Aqua Fitness also needs more time. At the Swim Center, Splashdown has not been well attended. Therefore, it is hoped that we can schedule better over the weekend.
They are attempting to streamline the schedules. Columbia Gym has the simplest changes. Be prepared. Check the schedules for classes or laps at Columbia Gym, Swim Center and Supreme Sports Club. Clippers Monay-Friday practice may move to Swim Center. Both pools at Swim Center from 3-9 pm are expected to be for swim teams. This means all the children will be at one place to make life easier for families.
This discussion is just the first step in making changes to help families with children in the Clippers while also balancing the needs of lap and aqua fitness pool users.
The Starbucks near the Supreme Sports Center off Snowden River Parkway is planning to move expand the building they are currently in and want to add a drive thru. There is concern that they don’t have to increase the parking spaces because it will include a drive thru. The interior space is going to be increased therefore there will likely be more used by people and thus there will be more need for parking. Therefore, there should be adequate parking included in the demands by the county. There is also concern that there must be adequate landscaping to cover the dumpster enclosure and appearance of the expanded Starbucks from Snowden River Parkway.
Open Space Updates
A presentation by, Nick, a staff member of Open Space explained the process by which the department creates processes to do all the work they must do to keep Columbia looking beautiful. Pathways, structures like tot lots, bridges, tennis courts, golf courses, decking and boardwalks and piers, park furnishings, vegetation management, facilities, environmental sustainability, and more, all come under the care of Open Space. They meet all obstacles and challenges that include weather, pests, etc. They expect to solve most issues within a day. The Open Space team makes us all proud to live in such a well maintained and loved community.
Overall, based on the results of the surveys sent out, we had a large group of people responding to the survey. Apparently, a vast majority of those who responded that the Neighborhood Centers are very important facilities in our community and people want them to be maintained and when needed, upgraded.
The CA Board needs to determine financial parameters, criteria, and need for upgrades in order to evaluate how to best provide a process for upgrading the centers. We need to know how to budget for the changes that are needed so moving forward an updated assessment of all the centers is needed. The villages need to be included in the process.
We need to create baseline criteria to determine what is needed to update or upgrade the centers. Costs, materials, etc. need to be included in the assessment. Dennis Mattey would meet with villages and develop a plan for the Neighborhood Centers in each village.
Village associations need to ask, thru the budget process, for updates and improvements after the upgrades are made to make sure the facilities remain in good shape.
There will be $100,000 baseline for Dennis to spend – based on budget approval, for upgrades. Money spent over that amount will come back to the board for approval. There needs to be an inspection by CA staff to determine if there are problems that need to be resolved in each NC.
Three board members are working on an executive summary of the NC issue. Input that can be shared with the community.
Schools will be closed from Mar 16-27. All out of state travel suspended for 45 days.
Be safe and take all precautions.
Wilde Lake Columbia Council Representative