Too Little Land

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Wrong Name, TooHow could this happen...

January 22, 1995

Too Little Land; Wrong Name, Too

How could this happen? Only in Howard County and Columbia. A land shortage for the new high school being built in Long Reach.

I refuse to call it "Eastern," but that's another issue. Has anybody heard of the word "planning"? Planning for the amount of land that the school itself would take. Planning for the amount of land that the parking lots would take. Planning for the amount of land that the athletic fields would take. Sounds to me that the only planning that did take place was for homes, townhouses and condos that are sure to be built on the adjacent lands of the school.

But that's what Columbia and Howard County are turning into. Another wasted opportunity to create something really good for the community. Instead, build something that before it is done will be inadequate. Totally amazing. The school is not even halfway finished and Sun staff writer Rick Belz reports that there won't be enough athletic fields at the sites. Again, where is the "planning"?

Also, is it really going to be called Eastern High School? Can't we come up with something better?

Wilde Lake High School is in Wilde Lake. Oakland Mills High School is in Oakland Mills. Hammond High School is in Kings Contrivance, but was built at a time when nothing else was built around it yet. The new River Hill High School is in River Hill. Now let me see, new high school being built in Long Reach, if you follow the pattern of the new Columbia high schools being

named that leaves . . . Eastern.

Go figure. Again, where is the planning?

Jeff Volmed

Marriottsville

Columbia Association: Enough is Enough

Is the Columbia Association's bureaucracy so bloated and inefficient that it can no longer keep fees at affordable levels? Consider the latest CA proposal targeted at Package Plan members.

The CA staff is proposing to raise residents' new member fees for the standard Package Plan by $75, from $546 to $621 (a 14 percent increase). For residents who are already members, renewals would also cost $75 more, from $477 to $552 (a 16 percent increase).

Now it really gets interesting. CA proposes to create an alternative Package Plan that comes without golf privileges. Sounds OK, except that a closer look shows that this lesser plan would cost $552, more than the $546 a new member would pay today for standard Package Plan with golf privileges.

And then come the gimmicks. CA staff says it might offer people a discount certificate toward next year's memberships. That's fine, but . . . the following year, the certificate will likely be phased out, and Columbia's residents will be stuck with the full brunt of the huge increase.

One has to wonder why the staff feels the need to propose such drastic increases. It's very strange that CA is claiming that it has a big year-end surplus, but then doesn't see fit to use it to keep fees down. Is CA suffering from mismanagement? Is CA in financial trouble?

Or, does CA need to squeeze more money out of Columbia's residents to make up for losses due to the hundreds of free Package Plan memberships that CA hands out to its staff each year? . . . In the late 1980s, residents spoke out forcefully against CA's excessive recreational fees. As a result, the Columbia Council agreed to reduce fees and pledged to keep any future increases minimal. Now, as we see CA staff breaking faith with Columbia's residents, more and more people feel betrayed and are giving up on CA. Many are saying "enough is enough, it's time to replace CA and change our form of government." Concerned residents need to take a few moments to let their Columbia Council representatives know how they feel.

Alex Hekimian

Columbia

The writer is president of the Alliance for a Better Columbia.

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For several years, different groups have proposed the possibilities of changing or replacing the Columbia Association as the governing body of Columbia. None have bothered to develop the facts.

CA was created by placing covenants on the real estate of Columbia. These covenants were placed in the land records and become part of the deed. The covenant is a contract between the property owner and the Columbia Association. This contract cannot be changed by the state legislature or the county government. It must be changed or abolished in the courts. Read Article VII of the covenants.

CA makes this possible by continuous violation of the covenants. Such things as the lease of the horse center to a private party and selling privileges for the use of CA facilities to non-Columbians. Read Articles IV and V of the covenants. If the trustees' agreement was enforced, CA would definitely be in default and that would mean the agreement would have to be terminated and the debt refinanced.

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