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Letter: Facts surrounding Symphony Woods plan are 'eye-opening'

CultureHoward HughesGeneral Growth Properties, Inc.

I read the Jan. 31 edition of the Flier and found some eye-opening information. Michael McCall's Inner Arbor Plan is called new: however, it is almost identical to the General Growth Properties Plan for the Columbia Association's Symphony Woods open space/parkland property that was approved by the County Council in 2010 legislation. The orientation and entry point to Symphony Woods seem to be the only major changes. Is it surprising then that the three Council members representing Columbia indicated they love this "new" plan?

The only money currently available for developing Symphony Woods Park, which may cost $45 to $50 million under the Inner Arbor Plan, is the limited funding that the CA Board authorized for their original more modest plan that was vetted with the public for over two years. Neither the county, Howard Hughes Corporation nor any other business or arts entity has pledged any financial support or land to date. CA's money has been collected from Columbia residents and businesses through an assessment for over 45 years.

Meanwhile, the county executive has proposed a new environmental farmland preservation plan for the county that could cost as much as $3.5 million a year. He also said he will include $3 million in his FY14 county budget for improvements to downtown Ellicott City, which are similar to those improvements that will be needed under the Inner Arbor Plan. Is it surprising then that the county executive's former chief of staff has started an online petition urging the CA Board of Directors to approve the Inner Arbor Plan and establish the proposed 501(c)(3) trust to pay for this project in Columbia?

Barbara L. Russell

Columbia

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