October 22, 2006

Noisy hobby disturbs peace

It is a beautiful October weekend at Centennial Park - blue skies, the fall foliage reflected in the park's lake, geese flying overhead, walkers filling the pathways - an oasis in busy suburban Howard County. But not last Friday and Saturday. The calm of Centennial Lake is shattered by the high-pitched whine of remote-controlled racing speedboats.

Once again Howard County's Department of Recreation and Parks has opened the lake to the noise and pollution of nonstop model speedboat racing. Even from a mile away, the noise is amazing. And other than the noise-induced headaches of park visitors and nearby homeowners, what impact does this event have on the fish and wildlife inhabiting the lake and nearby wooded areas? That question continues to fall on deaf ears at the Department of Recreation and Parks.

David White

Ellicott City

Candidates should attend forums

The Columbia/Howard County PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) recently held a candidates forum. We were somewhat disappointed in the number of candidates who did not respond to our invitation, and who decided simply not to attend and participate. One was quoted as saying he "wanted to avoid an emotional response over his support for a constitutional ban on gay marriage."

If these candidates had attended they would have learned that the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) community is extremely diverse in their concerns. The missing candidates would have learned that we are interested and care about a very wide range of issues, from the environment to health care and transportation along with many other issues. Yes, we want to know if a candidate supports our goal of equality, but we also want to live in the whole community, and learn about all the issues that affect our lives.

Candidates who chose not to attend out of fear of being asked "only gay-oriented questions" that they might have been uncomfortable answering missed a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk to our loving, hard working, caring families and friends.

Candidates cannot continue to ignore our thriving and growing GLBT community and its allies. We warmly thank the candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, who did attend and honestly answered our wide range of concerns. When all candidates acknowledge that they have gay constituents and family members, and show us respect, only then we can have a strong, successful and caring community that embraces diversity.

Colette Roberts


The writer is the chair of the Columbia/Howard County PFLAG

Support charrette for Town Center

The charrette process to develop a master plan for downtown Columbia is a positive and important process that I feel should definitely continue. I grew up in Columbia and now I am raising my family here. I attended the charrette process that took place last year. I have followed closely the progress of the planning process since that time. I am truly disappointed by the negative light this process has been painted in by Chris Merdon and others.

As I understand, there is property in downtown Columbia that will be redeveloped or newly developed. This land is privately owned and the landowners have the right to do certain things with their property. The purpose of this planning process is to have a master plan to protect downtown Columbia from haphazard development.

It is for this reason that it is so crucial that this process continue. It is for the benefit of Columbia and encourages citizen input and good planning. In addition, to stop now would waste the enormous time, expertise and energy already put into this process.

It is my concern that the charrette process is being used as a political or election issue. It was started last year in good faith by Councilman Ken Ulman and others in the best interest of our community. It was started so that The Rouse Company then, and General Growth now, would have guidelines to follow that would insure that Town Center would be more pedestrian-friendly, more vibrant and more welcoming. These guidelines would assure that the plans would include housing for people with a wide range of income levels and infrastructure that would support new development.

There were many things in Columbia's original plans that have not come to fruition and there are things that were not planned at that time that perhaps should be added now. This downtown Columbia planning process must continue without any break.

Lisa Chodnicki


Flu clinic a big success

Last Sunday was a landmark day for the citizens of Howard County and the Howard County Health Department. Over 2,080 people received inoculations for this season's flu by participating in a mass drive-through flu clinic, one of the largest clinics of this type in the nation.

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