The Inner Arbor Plan to develop Symphony Woods was revealed in January as a bold solution to creating an iconic park in a growing city, but many residents disagree with how it has been handled and the plan itself.
Columbia Association's Board of Directors may vote on the plan as soon as its meeting on Thursday. The public meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Columbia Association building (10221 Wincopin Circle, Columbia). The agenda has alloted 45 minutes for public discussion, as well as 60 minutes for the Strategic Implementation Committee to discuss the plan.
In a letter to the board, CA's president Phil Nelson recommended that the board should adopt the Inner Arbor Plan, set Symphony Woods as the preferred location for a new CA office building, and ask management to establish the 501(c)(3) Trust that would be able to accept charitable donations and grants to help pay for the park concept.
Patch has aggregated five of the arguments defending the plan and another five criticizing it from letters to Explore Howard, blog posts, comments on Patch and public comments in interviews.
Five Arguments for the Inner Arbor Plan:
- CA has designed a plan that "balances both natural beauty with artistic beauty. It includes iconic sculptures, performance spaces, tree houses, a canopy walkway, plazas and a connection to Merriweather Post Pavilion that could turn regular concerts into magical experiences." - Ian Kennedy in a petition signed by over 200 people asking CA's Board to approve the plan.
- CA has laid out a "bold vision for Columbia's central park" that will match the "dynamism" of the development in Downtown Columbia - Dennis Lane, in a post on his blog Tales of Two Cities.
- The Inner Arbor Plan creates an interconnected system of elevated walkways that brings together community gathering spaces and focuses on the importance of art and culture. - Jen Terrasa, chair of the Howard County Council in a letter to Explore Howard
- Symphony Woods as it currently exists is not widely used, this plan will bring people to the park. - Julia McCready in a post on her blog Village Green Town Squared.
- The plan would protect the environment, provide entertainment and showcase the arts. - CA president Phil Nelson in an interview with Patch when CA announced the plan.
Five Arguments Against the Inner Arbor Plan:
- Columbia Association not providing a cost estimate for an expensive plan before the board votes on it is "foolish" - Cy Paumier, urban designer who helped create the original pathway plan for CA, in an interview with Columbia Patch.
- Evidence that CA has collaborated with Howard Hughes Corp., owners of Merriweather Post Pavilion, on the park's design has not been presented. - Marvin A. Lawson, in a letter to Explore Howard. - CA Board members Suzanne Waller and Alex Hekimian in an interview with Explore Howard.
- CA should not approve what looks to be an expensive plan until it receives a guarantee from the county or state to contribute funds. - Barry Blyveis in a comment on Patch.
- Symphony Woods is better off with a simple plan, emphasizing the nature already on display. - Ann von Lossberg in a letter to Explore Howard.
- The plan to build CA's headquarters in the park may create a situation where there's "a dead office building" amongst evening and weekend cultural events in the park. - Robert Tennenbaum, architect-planner who formerly worked on plan for Columbia, in a letter to Explore Howard.
What would be your arguments for or against the new plan to develop the park? Tell us in the comments.