Columbia village leaders at 2-hour forum say they want to run own facilities

Officials seeking input on CA decisions

January 12, 1999|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

Dozens of Columbia's village leaders turned out for a meeting last night with top Columbia Association officials to discuss what has become a tense topic in the 87,000-resident planned community: whether CA should exercise more control over the villages.

The consensus among officials from the villages, all of which were represented at the two-hour forum at Owen Brown Community Center, was near unanimous: Let us run our own facilities; spend our money the way we want; and offer input on proposed policy changes before they are made.

"I don't think micromanagement is the answer," said Donna Rice, a village board member from Town Center.

Nicholas Mangraviti, chairman of the Town Center Village Board, said the villages should act like lighthouses, or buoys, to guide the association as it addresses major policy concerns throughout the community.

For months, a task force of the Columbia Council, an elected body that oversees the Columbia Association, has been meeting to decide whether to make changes in the way CA allocates money to the villages, and whether to centralize management of village facilities.

"The very mention of raising questions created a little bit of a firestorm," said Norma Rose, chairwoman of the council. "I have more questions than answers."

She said that the villages are "completely dependent" on the association because the homeowners group provides the villages with their operating funds in the form of community grants every year.

Columbia Association officials said their intention is not to stifle the villages' independence; they simply want to evaluate whether decades-old policies need to be changed.

"At some point, you kind of look at it and say, `Is there a better way?' " said Deborah O. McCarty, president of the association.

But village officials stressed the need for more communication.

"It isn't just the village boards vs. the council," said Andrew Stack, chairman of the Owen Brown Village Board, who organized the meeting. "It should be a more cooperative effort."

Pub Date: 1/12/99

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