Morning walkers want Columbia Mall to continue early opening WEST COLUMBIA

NEIGHBORS

September 01, 1993|By LARRY STURGILL

John and Millie Chase are mall walkers with a complaint.

For years, the Harper's Choice residents have been part of a group of friends and neighbors who don sweats or walking shorts bright and early and head to The Mall in Columbia for a quick stroll.

"With work, kids and everything else that has to be done, it's the only time many of us have to get any exercise at all," says Ms. Chase.

"There are lots of people in Columbia who use the Columbia Mall for morning walks," adds Mr. Chase. "We see familiar faces all the time. Like us, there are a number of groups who walk together."

But the Chases and others are upset at a change in the time the mall is open for recreational walkers. Citing security concerns, mall manager Rod Renner has changed the opening time from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

"Seven-thirty in the morning is too late for many of us," says Mr. Chase. "We have to be at work by 8 a.m. or 8:30 a.m., and there is not enough time to walk, change clothes and get to work on time."

The security issue doesn't seem reasonable to Mr. Chase.

"They had plenty of security there when they opened at 6:30 in the morning," he says. "And we were never made aware of any problems at the time."

But Mr. Renner says that concerns about mall security include the stores, and cart vendors, as well as the mall walkers and others who use the mall.

Mr. Renner notes that surveys he has done of other malls in the Maryland and Virginia region indicate that the 7:30 a.m. opening time is still earlier than most others.

Though he refused to disclose the size of the mall's security staff, he says, "If we were to change the opening time back to 6:30 a.m., it would require the hiring of additional security, at significant cost."

He said that he and Sue Ellen Weisberg, the mall's community events coordinator, have asked to meet with some of the groups who are protesting. "So far none have come forward," he says.

Ms. Chase contradicts this statement. "We wrote to Mr. Renner over two months ago explaining our position. Just last week, we finally received a reply. In the letter, he states that they have reviewed our request, but have decided that no changes in the opening time of the mall can be made."

Undaunted, the Chases say they hope to organize mall walkers to protest the time change. They plan to bring the matter up at the Sept. 8 meeting of the Columbia Association.

"We would like to hear from other walkers," says Mr. Chase. "If we can get an accurate head count of how many people use the mall for walking, I believe it will help us present our argument."

L Those interested may call John and Millie Chase at 992-9752.

*

Wilde Lake resident Karen Bottomley recently returned from three weeks in the Catskill Mountains, at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y. She was there with other aspiring young actors and actresses to hone their acting skills.

Although Karen was in the mountains and says she had fun, it wasn't exactly a vacation.

"We worked five to seven hours a day in workshops, learning our characters and preparing for our performance at the end of the session," she says. "And that doesn't include the time spent studying on our own."

Last year, Karen spent six weeks at the center and performed in two plays, "Blue Collar Blues" and "The Little Princess." This year, she was there for one three-week session, but performed a challenging role in "The Children's Hour."

Becoming an actress wasn't always her goal. Karen says her first love was music, the flute in particular.

After spending her freshman year at Wilde Lake High School, Karen transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts to pursue her interests in music. While there, she was drawn into acting and found the challenge exciting. Soon after, she changed her major to theater arts and graduated this past spring.

Her summer stints at Stagedoor Manor were in sharp contrast to her studies at Baltimore School of the Arts.

"The school is instructional in nature," she says. "StagedooManor is more production-oriented. We learned how to take a finished script and produce it on stage."

Karen admits that one of the hardest things she had to do in school was write a script.

"I thought it would be easy, but, it wasn't. The script I wrote was terrible," she says, laughing. "I think I'll stick to acting, and I know I'll never again complain about a script written by another playwright."

This fall, Karen will be attending New York University, where she will major in theater and sociology. "That may sound like a strange combination. But, I think the sociology will help me understand my characters, to get inside their heads and make me a better actress."

*

The Slayton House Gallery, in Wilde Lake Village, has long been showcase for local artists, some who have gained national and international recognition.

Bernice Kish, the gallery director, has selected excellent exhibits over the years, and continues to do so quite skillfully.

The 1993-1994 opening exhibit, beginning Tuesday at the Gallery, is called "Singular Journeys/Passageways."

The exhibit presents a diversity of works from Passageways Artists Studios displaying various approaches, styles and subject matter. The curator is Lee Mills, the Director and Curator of the Cardinal Gallery at the Maryland Hall for the Arts.

An opening reception is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept16.

% Information: 730-3987.

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