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. It does not create overflow into other amenities
The Columbia Association Board should really think about what type of vibrant neighborhood it is trying to create if it decides to use its members' land and resources to put buildings like Toby's or restaurants in Symphony Woods, Columbia's last chance for a real Central Park. Centennial Park and Lake Elkhorn are both vibrant by making good use of their natural settings. Keep the woods; shelve the buildings.
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