Columbia reportedly No. 4 on magazine's livability list

July 16, 2006|By TYRONE RICHARDSON | TYRONE RICHARDSON,SUN REPORTER

Columbia has been ranked No. 4 in Money magazine's "Best Places to Live in America," according to Columbia Association President Maggie J. Brown.

Although a spokesman for the magazine said he could not confirm the announcement until tomorrow, when the official rankings are released, Brown told the Columbia Association board Thursday night.

"We are delighted that Columbia is being recognized as one of the best places to live in the U.S.," Brown said.

"I'm sure if Columbia's founder, James Rouse, were around today, he would be very pleased to see that his vision of an open, integrated and caring community remains a priority for Columbians nearly 40 years later," she added.

Karen Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the homeowners association, said NBC's Today Show will include a story in its 9 a.m. hour tomorrow about the top five communities named in the magazine.

"It was described that [NBC] is going to do an overview of the area, and we provided them with some footage and a snapshot of Columbia," Hawkins said.

Recently, Columbia earned a ninth-place ranking in Best Places to Raise Your Family, published by Frommer's, the travel guide company.

Columbia was ranked among 100 communities that were selected based on affordability, schools, public safety and the quality of life. Louisville, Colo., outside Denver, was ranked No. 1.

"The ones that made the Top 10 were more than a community that serves as a suburbia, and we had a good feeling for Columbia in our dealings with it," said Bert Sperling, one of the book's authors. "We liked the planned-community aspect, and it has enhanced the visibility. The central location was good."

The ranking included a brief description of Columbia, as well as pros and cons. The authors said Columbia illustrated effective community planning, a central location and a strong sense of community. On the negative side, the authors noted rising costs, growth pressure and long commutes, specifically to Washington.

"I think the rating has real meaning, and for me the meaning is that a lot of things have been done along the way that have made it a good place to raise a family," said Barbara Russell, a longtime resident and member of the Columbia Association board. "One of the reasons I stayed in Columbia is because I saw the potential for raising a good family."

Columbia was not the only ranked Maryland community. Gaithersburg, in Montgomery County, was ranked No. 2.

Columbia officials said the recent rankings prove the community is on the right track.

"It's a whole wide range of people who are giving us very high marks for our community. ... We have been ranked, and it shows what a good place it is to live here," said Tom O'Connor, chairman of the association board.

tyrone.richardson@baltsun.com

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