Debate extended on HCC gift

Panel charged with making recommendation delays a decision


Amid signs of division on the Columbia Association board - and in the community - a committee given the task of recommending whether the homeowners association should donate $200,000 to the construction of Howard Community College's visual and performing arts instructional building has postponed making a decision until next month.

The decision came at an external relations committee meeting at which the three-member panel heard comments from a handful of residents who voiced opposition.

"I'm against donating my money to HCC," Tom Scott, a resident of Wilde Lake, told members of the committee at the meeting Thursday. "This is not how I want to see my money spent."

Howard Community College is completing construction of its $20 million Peter & Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center. The facility, scheduled to open by Aug. 28, will include an art gallery, recital hall and music and painting studios.

Construction is funded in part by state and county grants. In addition, the construction needs to be funded by $5 million in private donations, and the college has said it has raised a third of that.

During a Columbia Association board meeting last month, Phil Marcus, board member representing Kings Contrivance, suggested that the homeowners association contribute $100,000 from the fiscal 2007 and 2008 budgets because the donation would contribute to the cultural and visual arts of Columbia.

During the committee meeting Thursday, Marcus, who was in the audience, said: "A city without arts is not worth living in."

But Cynthia Coyle, board member representing Harper's Choice, said during the meeting that she received correspondence from residents in her village, stating that they oppose the donations.

Coyle said that creating alternatives to giving money to the college - such as establishing an arts fund for underprivileged residents - would be good way to improve the visual and performing arts in the community.

The next external committee meeting is scheduled for Aug. 3.

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