A freshman member of the Columbia Council wants the policy-making body to take a good, hard look at itself.
Vincent L. Marando, who represents the Village of Wilde Lake, proposed last night establishing a task force to examine how -- and how well -- the 10-member panel sets policy for the Columbia Association, which governs the planned community of 87,000 residents.
"Each of us is committed to helping CA fulfill its mission, but as volunteers, we are constrained in how we can do so," Marando wrote in a memo to council members and CA President Deborah O. McCarty. "I think it is important to explore feasible ways to enable the Council/Board to better perform its primary policy-making function."
Because it is not an incorporated city, Columbia has no official government, although the CA, the homeowners association that provides services and maintains recreational facilities, functions somewhat like one.
Marando, a University of Maryland political science professor, suggested that the task force address a number of issues relating to how the council, which serves as the CA's board of directors, makes policy.
Those issues include legal responsibilities; communication with constituents, the CA staff and other council members; the role of the chairman; the length of council terms; and compensation.
Council members are elected to one- or two-year terms and serve without pay.
After completion of its review, the task force would present a report to the Columbia Council "evaluating and assessing its capacity to perform its policy-making functions."
Also at last night's meeting, the council took up again a proposal to renovate and upgrade Symphony Woods, a 40-acre park in downtown Columbia.
The council agreed to meet next month with officials from LDR International, a Columbia-based landscape design company, to review concepts for Symphony Woods that the company prepared for CA in 1994.
Those plans called for creating a main entrance on Little Patuxent Parkway, constructing a pathway system around the property and connecting those pathways to the surrounding network of open space.
"There are some elements [of the original plans] that are very attractive," Chick Rhodehamel, the CA's director of open space management, told the council.
"There are some that would need to be refined and improved, and put before the council and the community."
LDR International, which has offered to donate time to help with the park design, has recommended a four- to six-month study. Input would come from the council, the CA staff, Rouse Co. and the public.
CA has not committed to paying for the project.
The council also adopted a charter for the Columbia Association Horse Center Advisory Committee.
The 10-member committee will be a liaison between horse center users, the council and the CA staff, and will advise council members on policies, programs and expenditures at the facility.
Those recommended for appointment to the committee are Dana Kleinstuber of Dorsey's Search; Cindy Coyle of Harper's Choice; Janet Anderson and Jim Shields of Hickory Ridge; Bob Aiken, Dan Bednarik and Beverly Vattimo of Kings Contrivance; Joan Athen of Owen Brown; and Beth Richards and Bill Ruiz of Wilde Lake.
Committee members will serve staggered two-year terms and meet quarterly.