Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday Round Up: Drying out...

Ah, the joys of camping in the midst of a three-day deluge. At least we had an excuse to eat a lot, play poker (curse you, HoCo Exile, for tricking me into calling with my stupid two pair) and build this:

Tarp City. It's a little hard to see but there are three tarps, two pop up canopies and one Honda Element protecting our group from the cold, persistent rain that was only slightly supposed to happen, at least according to the National Weather Service.

The above picture was from Sunday morning when we were packing up -- the only time it was dry enough to bring out the camera.

Anyway, I don't have much time or energy for a post tonight (Go Ravens!), but if this site is your only source of Howard County news (which it clearly should not be) here is what you might have missed while I was away.

Like bacteria in a petri dish, Howard County bloggers are multiplying. I posted links to their sites on the sidebar last week, but didn't get a chance to formally introduce you to them. Thus, here are Columblog and Howard County Education Blog. Welcome to the fray!

Now, on to the news...

Not surprisingly, our local councilmen can't run away fast enough from a measure that would extend water and sewer service into Turf Valley. The merits of the extension, of course, are inconsequential. It's the timing, stupid.

The County Executive race is getting more and more hostile, and, predictably, the hostilities are centered on the issue of growth. The second link goes to a story detailing the candidates' positions on growth and includes this great line from resident and concrete subcontractor Scott Wyler: "I'm very interested in the candidate who's going to take a systemic approach to dealing with growth." Systems thinking is good.

The tax cut for seniors has been tabled. It may or may not pass before the current council leaves office, but members of the county's Commission on Aging don't appear very concerned about the delay, suggesting that, assurances aside, the impacts of the bill are not fully known.

Mmm, bake sales. Who says all this money in politics is unsavory?

Chris Merdon wants to slow down (even more) the process for the Town Center master plan. The Flier likes what it hears from him, while in other unrelated news, the firefighters don't.

A question: Do you consider the bridge over Rt. 29 from Oakland Mills to Town Center unsafe or "a place where criminals lurk," like the Flier does? If you do, why? Have you heard of a crime taking place there or does it just seem like a place where crime would occur (dark, only two ways out, surrounded by apartments)? I don't, but I go over that bridge pretty frequently, albeit mostly during broad daylight. Whatever your opinion, the bigger point from the article is that a strong pedestrian (or vehicular) connection to Town Center would be an undisputed positive for Oakland Mills, which I agree with.

Finally, let me join Bill Santos in wishing a fond farewell to two of Columbia's village managers, Ruth Bohse and Anne Dodd, who will step down later this year. Both have been in their current positions since 1979, an amazing record of longevity given the often-thankless job being, as one of Bill's commenters said, "CEOs of what are essentially ten small businesses, public relations executives, local historians, counselors, and negotiators."

Since I've lived in both villages mentioned above and I'd like to spur some talk, I think I'll ask about village residency. For those of you who've lived in Columbia, which village(s) have you called home? Ultimately, I'd like to complete the circuit, and I'm already halfway there: Kings Contrivance, Hickory Ridge, Wilde Lake, Owen Brown and Oakland Mills.

If you haven't lived in Columbia but were forced to, which village would you choose? Just to be fair, I'll turn the parameters around and say if I were forced to choose another Howard County community to live in, Savage would definitely win. In fact, we considered (briefly) buying a really old and really small house there.


iandanger said...

If I had to pick a village I'd probably stay where I am right now. I live in Huntington, and I must say I like it. We're far enough from the mall that we don't get traffic from merriweather or anywhere else. We're close to 32 (and therefore 95, but also 216) which makes for ultra convenience in commuting. Plus there's still lower income housing mixed in around this area, which is, i think, the best part about Rouse's vision, people of all classes living together. The rest of the city is becoming stratified.

I still don't know how to take the redevelopment plan, and that being the main issue of the campaign, I still can't decide whom to vote for.

B. Santos said...

I started out in Wilde Lake and spent my teen years in Owen Brown. I will echo this comment with a full post back on the Compass, but I have to say, Wilde Lake is incredible. Although there are some notable drawbacks, the architecture here is quirky (carports), most homes are suprises to the unitiated (i.e. large master bedrooms, most have hardwood floors on the main level), and the lots are bigger. Proximity to downtown is a plus, but with development may become less of a plus. Lastly, there is a strong sense of identity here.

Don said...

Thanks for the welcome to the Howard County blogger world! Starting to get the hang of it. It is harder to blog than you might think it is.

Last Friday and Saturday were miserably wet days. I heard a forecast of in the 30's this Friday. My mom just mentioned snow. Snow in October?

Numbersgirl said...

I started out my life in the Clemens Crossing neighborhood of Hickory Ridge. I spent 13 years there and I think I had the best childhood of any person I know, especially compared to those in the Western end.

When I returned to Columbia as an adult, I lived for 2 years in King's Contrivance. My perspective as an adult was different, but I loved Columbia all the same. I loved being able to walk to the village center (even though Safeway really sucked). I took advantage of the sidewalks and often ran to the Atholton Shopping Center and back, plus all around the King's Contrivance area. It is easy to be active in Columbia.

The walkability, numerous parks, and neighborhood feel can't be beat. Even if the CA does have narcs peering over your shoulder.

Anonymous said...

Am I getting the sense that you're subtly lobbying for a road running direct from your home to your office? Is using the existing roadway that burdensome? Instead of adding pavement, increased bridgework, etc. building this mini-ICC (through protected environmental areas just like its bigger namesake) just to expedite your very local commute, maybe, kidding aside, looking at the real reasons why the Oakland Mills Village Center's vitality isn't now what it was years ago would be in order.

The OM Village Center's slow decline coincided with the arrival of additional nearby retail centers - Dobbin Center, Columbia Crossing I & II, expansion of the Mall, etc. Oakland Mills Village Center can't directly compete with some of those centers. And thinking Oakland Mills Village Center will draw people away from Town Center's attractions and stores is also a pipedream. Instead, it's better off refocusing on its original purpose as village center - serving the daily needs of the village's residents. Having the right mix of shops, restaurants, entertainment, meeting facilities is crucial to everday needs. And throw in shops and recurring unique events those bigger centers don't have, drawing people from beyond the village.

hocoblog said...

Where did you go camping? I take my kids to Patapsco (Hollifield). Great camping pads and easy to get in an out. They love it and it is a great way to introduce them to camping.

I decided I would make a chuck box in order to make cooking and cleaning easier, and also to have portable storage and work surfaces rather than try to do everything on the picnic table.

Ian said...

Anon: Ha! Yes, I've grown weary of the commute and am just trying to lay the foundation for a new Me-centered road network in Columbia. In addition to my own mini-ICC for work, I'd like a more direct route to 95 as well as a straight shot to the Patapsco trail head on Landing Road.

Jokes aside, a better connection between OM and TC would do a lot of good, but not in the sense of converting OMVC into an extension of TC. Rather, by creating an easy connection between the two, OM stands to gain because of proximity and ease of access to TC, while maintaining its more suburban, leafy feel. An residential enclave just outside of downtown, perhaps like Federal Hill in Baltimore.

As for the Village Center, I think many of your points regarding the Snobbin Area (Dobbin/Snowden)are correct. But I also think there's great potential to return the village center to find its niche and return to its quirkier roots. If done right, it can serve both the daily needs of village residents and the occasional needs our neighbors from other villages.

Hocoblog: We went to Green Ridge State Forest, which is about 20 miles east of Cumberland (about 2 hours from here). It's great but primitive. The campsites are isolated and along unpaved (and, often, un-maintained) roads and it lacks public restrooms, running water and other basic amenities of campsites, which is why we love it. Aside from a sweet moutain biking trail -- which I wasn't able to enjoy, despite lugging my bike out there -- it's trail system is just OK.

Hayduke said...

Whoops, forgot to log out of the personal account for the above comment.

Anonymous said...

That's ok, considering Google's left other things hanging open lately.

Why not restore the green, leafy feel to TC? The higher density TC Master Plan is very much lacking the look of the kind of development that should be pursued in light of what we now know about climate change, energy conservation, green architecture, light pollution, etc. Maybe instead of pursuing a rehashed implementation of the urban transect (controlled sprawl), we should expect a more forward thinking 21st century-worthy, community design that preserves Columbia's best attributes, respects and addresses our environmental challenges, and will be thankfully accepted by future generations, both wild and civilized.

Relative to your upcoming post about local, unique businesses, yes they're important to the local economy for a number of reasons. Local mom-and-pop shops roll over dollars in the local economy more vs. non-local companies that fly dollars spent in their stores out to their HQs. Additionally, they can serve as viable anchors for village centers to offer something not found in BigBox strips. And, sometimes, it's the local shops that have more experienced/knowledgeable staff than BigBoxes that are, unfortunately, sometimes in the position of staffing with warm bodies due to volume, attrition, etc.

The trick is finding which unique shops fit where best. The OM village center had a revolving door of restaurants prior to Last Chance. Yet, when JK did put Last Chance there, it was the right fit and lasted for decades.

Ways to support them? Give them feedback. Odds are if it's something you like/dislike/want/need, other customers do too.

Still Anon