Development and redevelopment continues to hum along in Columbia, helping revitalize the community and bring it closer to the complete city Jim Rouse originally envisioned. Whether directly involved or serving the role of a key community stakeholder, Columbia Association (CA) knows that the pursuit of its mission is a long-term endeavor and will require assistance from many people.

With the changing landscape of Downtown Columbia during the coming years, the planned addition of Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods will serve as an attractive gathering space for residents and others and as a destination for visitors. The new park also will complement the improvements to Merriweather Post Pavilion and development in “The “Crescent.”

Two CA board members and I sit on the board of directors for the Inner Arbor Trust, which was created to develop Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods.

As CA’s president, I also sit on the board of directors for the Downtown Columbia Partnership and serve as an ex-officio member of the board of directors for the Downtown Columbia Arts and Culture Commission. CA is able to participate and have a seat at the table as efforts of these organizations bring redevelopment and new amenities into the downtown area.

CA also has a strong interest in the redevelopment of Long Reach Village Center, much of which has been acquired by the Howard County government. CA’s interest is not merely because of its property there — CA owns Columbia Art Center and Stonehouse — but because Long Reach is a village center that needs to be revitalized in order to become more of a neighborhood amenity and gathering place than it is. The success of Columbia’s village centers is crucial to the success of Columbia in general.

That’s why CA partnered with Howard County government and the Howard County Economic Development Authority last year on a village center market study that analyzed conditions at eight of Columbia’s village centers and offered recommendations for their long-term viability. The county is hosting three more community input meetings regarding the Long Reach Village Center, one of which was held in late April. The next one of the three remaining on the scheduled is set for May 28.

CA is also appreciative of County Executive Allan Kittleman’s recent town hall meeting in the village of Oakland Mills and of the Howard County Council’s listening tour with Columbia’s village community associations. CA board members and staff are attending these events and listening as well.

Where we can work with the county, we will. Howard County government remains an active partner with CA and within the Columbia community. We continue to work with other community stakeholders, so that we’re working together, rather than duplicating efforts.

These projects, as well as others, will be important to all of the community as we continue to work toward making Columbia more vibrant and keeping it one of the best places to live, work and play.

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