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NEWS
March 13, 2014
The debate over the future of Symphony Woods is back on center stage - thanks, in large part, to a letter by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Gehry, whose firm designed Merriweather Post Pavilion and the former Rouse Co. building on the Columbia lakefront, told the Baltimore Sun in a letter to the editor last week that the Inner Arbor plans "deeply disturb me" and that those plans were not in keeping with Columbia founder Jim Rouse's original vision...
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NEWS
May 6, 2014
Power brokers count upon apathy about Symphony Woods Despite my reputation as a community and political activist, I had developed a veil of apathy, indifference and cynicism about Columbia's "politics". Quite frankly, I saw much of the decision-making about what happened at our village centers and public arenas as rigged in favor of an interlocking directorate, with certain barely elected, perhaps naive CA board members being used to do the bidding of the power brokers who were really calling the shots.
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EXPLORE
February 11, 2013
There is a Maryland foundation whose purpose is to fund sacred places, green spaces that celebrate nature by creating verdant calm refuges tucked away from urban chaos. It seems CA proposes to do the opposite.  Our Symphony Woods is already a sacred place. So we have a responsibility to tread lightly, with small footprints, when we make it a public place. The last plan to create walkways through the trees, "Columbia's Central Park with a fountain," seemed to be an unobtrusive way to enjoy SW's exquisite trees.
NEWS
April 25, 2014
Before attending a presentation in Symphony Woods last weekend, I had already decided to vote for Alan Klein as Columbia Council rep for Harper's Choice. At this meeting I learned just how important it is for us to elect Alan. The way in which the Columbia Council has ignores the rights of Columbia residents is incredible. They have given away Symphony Woods to a private corporation that proposes to fill the park with gimmicky attractions. On top of that they are spending millions of dollars of our lien payments for these attractions.
NEWS
March 11, 2014
Thank you to Frank Gehry, who joins the hundreds of us who have provided constructive input to the Columbia Association Board of Directors regarding the "improvement" of Symphony Woods, a parkland adjacent to the Columbia Mall and owned by the Columbia Association, i.e. owned by all annual CA charge payers ( "Frank Gehry: Inner Arbor plans 'deeply disturb me,'" March 5). Two years ago Cy Paumier, an internationally known and respected peer colleague of James Rouse, submitted a plan for Symphony Woods that was decisively approved by the Columbia Association Board of Directors as well as the Howard County Planning Board.
EXPLORE
February 4, 2013
The editorial cartoon in the Jan. 24 editor of the Columbia Flier, "Tuning up Symphony Woods," makes no clear statement, except one against its quality. The being pictured "tuning up" a music note lacks any features identifying as a creature of this planet. Its face lacks a mouth, eye or nose. It seems to be the end result of a gorilla-rat love affair. The unidentified species seems to be using a tuning fork to tune the contents of a musical note. This does not portray any coherent message at all. Is the Arts District trying to make all trees in Symphony Woods be in tune?
EXPLORE
February 11, 2013
As an Ellicott City neighbor of Columbia who has enjoyed many aspects of downtown over the years, let me weigh in and say that, from my perspective the current proposal for Symphony Woods is going in the wrong direction. Toby's Dinner Theatre is wonderful. Toby's is art. Toby's does not make a neighborhood vibrant. Toby's patrons go immediately indoors when they arrive and are sequestered for up to five hours. Even on the best weather days only about 20 patrons go outside between the dinner and show and at intermission. Most go for a smoke, the rest to use their phones. After the show all depart within 15 minutes. And after hours eating, drinking and being entertained, they do not go for more desserts and drinks. All of the vibrancy is contained indoors, not out in the neighborhood.
NEWS
April 25, 2014
As word seeps out further about the biggest blunder in Columbia's history, Inner Arbor, it now becomes clear that the Columbia Association's directors covertly gave an outsiders' group not just part of Symphony Woods, but all of it. That's 40 acres of prime land worth upwards of $90 million dollars. Touting itself as a trust, Inner Arbor is merely a new corporation created by its chief and his cronies who now sit on its board as majority members. Inner Arbor Trust started off with $!
EXPLORE
February 7, 2013
During the 1960s I worked, as an architect-planner, with Jim Rouse, Bill Finley and Mort Hoppenfeld creating the plan for Columbia. In the Town Center land use plan what we now call Symphony Woods was designated as a permanent public open space Town Center Park. Now as a 45-year involved resident I urge the community, CA and the County to seriously consider and act on the following: The Symphony Woods CA Park Plan must be implemented as approved by CA and Howard County. If and when the McCall concept finally shakes out, its location east of the Music Pavilion is compatible with and depends on the adjacent CA Park Plan.
EXPLORE
February 11, 2013
Just as the Greeks distracted the residents of Troy with the Trojan Horse, the Columbia Association elected representatives and paid staff have created their own Trojan Horse - the new plan for Symphony Woods. Our elected representatives and our paid staff would like the taxpayers to be focused on the details of the redevelopment plan and not on the proposed mechanism for its implementation. And exactly what is hidden in the Symphony Woods plan? The Symphony Woods Trust, a new organization, to which Columbia taxpayer dollars would be transferred but Columbia taxpayers would have no right to know how those taxpayer dollars are spent.
NEWS
April 25, 2014
I am writing in support of the proposal for Symphony Woods which was approved by CA and the county a couple years ago, a plan which would be user friendly and would also preserve the "woods" and park environment. I have been unable to determine how, all of a sudden, we seem to have discarded the previously approved, relatively simple, plan and are now stuck with the Inner Arbor pie-in-the-sky mini-Disneyland proposal (hopefully not a fait accompli) which involves spending an enormous amount of money, as well as destroying the "park" environment.
NEWS
April 25, 2014
As word seeps out further about the biggest blunder in Columbia's history, Inner Arbor, it now becomes clear that the Columbia Association's directors covertly gave an outsiders' group not just part of Symphony Woods, but all of it. That's 40 acres of prime land worth upwards of $90 million dollars. Touting itself as a trust, Inner Arbor is merely a new corporation created by its chief and his cronies who now sit on its board as majority members. Inner Arbor Trust started off with $!
NEWS
April 25, 2014
In August 2012, the long awaited Symphony Woods Park was close to becoming a reality. However, on Feb. 14, 2013, the Columbia Association Board suspended its rules, ignored questioners, closed off debate, and with stunning speed, voted 8-2 to accept a scheme termed Inner Arbor (IA). Its supporters call it visionary, bold and exciting. Critics call it a costly misuse of a treasured public asset. Among the myths posited for IA are: Myth 1: The Howard County Planning Board rejected the original plan.
NEWS
April 25, 2014
As a resident of Harper's Choice for 33 years, I am excited about the opportunity to have Alan Klein serve as our representative to the Columbia Council. Alan and I have worked together in the field of leadership and organizational change and for many years. I know him to be an independent thinker with insight and intelligence who always strives to treat others with respect. Alan has the kind of mind that enables him to grasp very complex, systemic issues, the kind of issues facing the Council as it grapples with decisions about Symphony Woods, open government and ensuring that lien payers receive real value for the fees we all pay. He consistently applies his skills in bringing people of divergent views together to come to a result that serves the common good.
NEWS
By Mike Giuliano | April 25, 2014
The moral lesson in "Shrek the Musical" is that it's important to accept people who are different; and the title character, who is a green-hued ogre, definitely qualifies as different. It's easy to learn this lesson in the festive production running at Toby's Dinner Theatre of Columbia. Derived from the 2001 animated movie, this 2008 Broadway show makes sure the moral of the story is not overwhelmed by all of the colorful costumes, fairy tale complications and playground-level jokes.
NEWS
April 25, 2014
Last Saturday, almost 100 people gathered in Symphony Woods to learn more about the two proposals for development there. The Coalition to Save Symphony Woods did a great job of helping us to understand them, their history, and their impact on the Woods and Columbia. Most striking to us was the negative impact that three features of the Inner Arbor corporation's proposal will have if it is allowed to proceed. The misnamed "Picnic Table" (only 18 inches off the ground) will cut across the Woods, making access through them difficult.
EXPLORE
February 7, 2012
After living here in Columbia for 34 years, I thought I had become inured to the oddities and missteps of amateur government. Well, a decorative fountain meant for children to play in the middle of Symphony Woods ("Reviews mixed for planned fountain," Feb. 2) certainly ranks up there with bad software decisions and water flumes that break down. Has anyone ever sat near that same kind of fountain now operating in Fairfax, Va.? What you see there is a constant parade of parents and children and noisy adolescents.
EXPLORE
March 19, 2013
I am thrilled the Columbia Association and the Columbia Council Representatives responded to the present and future needs of our community in moving forward with the McCall/Inner Arbor Plan for Symphony Woods. The previous plan was generally found to have missed the mark, and was additionally rejected by the Planning Board. The McCall Plan was created out of the very real need for something better. It was presented to the community. Response was heard in person, by email and by petition.
NEWS
April 17, 2014
This is one in a series of submitted candidate profiles for the Columbia Association Elections.  The Columbia Association will hold elections on Saturday, April 26. During the elections, Columbia residents who pay the Columbia Association assessed fee can vote in their respective village for their village's representative to the 10-member Columbia Council, which becomes the 10-member Board of Directors. Each village hosts its own election. This year, there are only three contested races for the 10-member board.
NEWS
April 13, 2014
Those supporting Columbia Association Directors' secret giveaway of a hunk of Symphony Woods for a private group's folly disregard the intent of the visionary they invoke.  Last week, a former board member claimed here that James Rouse would love what looms ahead for the tract. Actually, early on Mr. Rouse decreed that 22 percent of Columbia's acreage would forever be set aside as Open Space.  For years this pledge echoed at the Visitors Center in the orientation film that he helped craft. It highlighted the solitude of Symphony Woods as the new town's elegant centerpiece.  Rouse's formula focused on making Columbia comfortable for residents and workers, not burdening them with excessive tourist traffic destined to a gimmicky exhibit wiping out many trees and natural ambiance.
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