Route 175 section soon will become the Rouse Parkway

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

May 07, 2006|By LAURA CADIZ

Drivers heading down Route 175 in Howard County soon will be driving on the Jim and Patty Rouse Parkway.

The state announced Thursday - Patty Rouse's 80th birthday - that a four-mile stretch of Route 175, between U.S. 29 and Interstate 95, will be named for Columbia's founder and his wife.

Bart Harvey, chairman and chief executive officer of the Enterprise Foundation, a national neighborhood revitalization group that the Rouses created in Columbia, said the foundation held a celebration for Patty Rouse and surprised her with the announcement of the road naming.

"It's a wonderful tribute by the governor," Harvey said. Patty Rouse "was quite pleased."

Harvey added that James W. Rouse likely would have appreciated the sentiment.

"Jim was always gracious," Harvey said. "He wasn't necessary looking for his name on buildings or things, but I think he really would be enthusiastic were he alive today."

Carol A. Arscott, an assistant to state transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan, said naming the portion of Route 175 for the Rouses seemed particularly appropriate as it turns into Little Patuxent Parkway, which she called "Columbia's Main Street."

"Howard County would have developed in a very, very different way had it not been for the vision of Columbia," she said.

Arscott said signs will be posted along the parkway proclaiming: "This Parkway Named for Jim and Patty Rouse."

An average of 47,000 to 58,000 vehicles travel the parkway daily, according to the state.

Town Center vote

Columbia Town Center posted its highest voter turnout in at least seven years during its April 29 election for the Columbia Council, when voters ousted incumbent Jud Malone.

The 348 voters brought the village turnout to 17 percent. Village Manager Patricia B. Laidig attributes part of that high turnout to residents in two new developments - Lakeside at Town Center condominiums and the Evergreens, a senior rental complex - being able to vote now that they are annexed into the village.

Laidig said 51 people out of 156 units voted at Evergreen. She has not been able to determine the voting rate at Lakeside.

The roughly 200 residents living in the developments earned the ability to participate in elections when Del. Elizabeth Bobo submitted emergency state legislation that would make those developments part of Columbia.

"I just think it's wonderful that we've brought that many more people into the community," Laidig said.

Two women living in those developments were elected to office. Gail Broida, who lives at the Lakeside condos, was elected to the Columbia Council, defeating Malone.

Linda Wengel, who lives at the Evergreens, was elected to the Town Center Village Board, along with Burt Knauft.

Laidig said the contested council race, along with the redevelopment that Town Center will undergo, also likely brought more people to the polls.

"Downtown Columbia is no longer the sleepy little quiet section of Columbia it used to be," Laidig said. "We have more residents, and with the prospect of all the changes of downtown, people are starting to get interested in their community."

Focus group timelines

A 23-member community focus group is continuing to discuss the fate of Town Center's redevelopment, and it has not finalized a timeline for when the plan will be presented to the Planning Board and County Council, which has final approval.

Bill Mackey, the county planning supervisor, said the focus group is leaving the option open for two timelines. One schedule has the Planning Board hearing the plan in early October, with the council voting on it in February. In the second scenario, the Planning Board would hear the proposal in early February, and the council would rule on it in June.

Mackey said the group members, which the county named to give feedback on a development master plan for Town Center, would select a schedule "when they feel satisfied they have enough discussion."

The group is discussing zoning amendments, transportation improvements and the possibility of a creating an architectural review board for a 30-year plan to redevelop Town Center.

laura.cadiz@baltsun.com

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