Columbia is heading into perhaps its most important period of time since Jim Rouse first conceived the idea of the city nearly half a century ago. That notion might seem like hyperbole, but it's not. The next few years could bring sweeping change, with plans to potentially change Symphony Woods from a passive tree-lined park to a more vibrant and bustling district with restaurants, performing arts theaters and a new Columbia Association building, all surrounded by woods.
This, potentially, is just the tip of the iceberg. The Wilde Lake Village Center is poised, finally, for revitalization. Improvements to other village centers could stand to see a similar overhaul. Then, do we build a bridge across Route 29 to connect Oakland Mills and downtown? What about mass transit and affordable housing?
And, of course, we can't forget other large-scale projects in Town Center like the Metropolitan apartments and the renovation of the former Rouse Co. building that will house a Whole Food grocery and a CA Fitness Club. And down the road, the crescent property, located between Route 29 and Merriweather Post Pavilion, is likely to be developed.
So when Columbians go to the polls Friday and Saturday to elect representatives to the Columbia Council, also known as the CA board, there's a lot on the line. The 10 CA representatives will play a key role in formulating the direction of Columbia's future. They will be the gatekeepers and the voices of the residents. Critical roles, to say the least.
As we announce our selections to serve on the Columbia Association board, we are looking for people who have a vision for Columbia's future while not forgetting its past, a drive to make changes but not to rush decisions and, above all, a positive outlook with a dose of healthy skepticism. With those items in mind, we endorse these candidates that are in contested elections for the CA board: Regina Clay in Wilde Lake, Ed Coleman in Long Reach, Michael Cornell in River Hill and Alex Hekimian in Oakland Mills.
In addition to these candidates, we also urge Columbia residents to get involved in the process. Recent village elections have seen more apathy from voters than interest. A recent Long Reach meet-the-candidates meeting, for example, had two residents in the audience. With so much at stake, residents have to play their role, too.