For the past several years, Columbia has been at a crossroads. Redevelopment plans have the potential to change the downtown in ways that founder Jim Rouse could have never imagined.
More housing is destined for the core, as is a revamped mall and even a grocery store and gym on the lakefront. Meanwhile, Howard County General and Howard Community College continue to grow. In other parts of Columbia, a plan to overhaul many of the village centers could be ready soon and a new president for the Columbia Association could be introduced nearly any day.
And let's not forget that this reimagined Columbia seems destined to include changes around Merriweather Post Pavilion, both in Symphony Woods where there's currently a debate on how to develop portions of that property and on the nearby "crescent property," where the Howard Hughes Corp. has plans to build a multi-use urban streetscape.
There are a lot of moving pieces in play, requiring effective and commited community leaders to give residents a voice in the issues ahead. This coming weekend, Columbia's villages will be holding elections to select representatives who will help guide the town through these changes. Some officers will be selected to oversee specific village issues while three seats, one each in Town Center, Hickory Ridge and Harper's Choice, will be picked for the Columbia Council and, ultimately a seat on the Columbia Association board of directors. For these races, we see their voices as being more critical. And for those open seats, we suggest voters give their support to Bob Fontaine in Harper's Choice, Gregg Schwind in Hickory Ridge and Suzanne Waller in Town Center.
But more importantly, we renew our annual plea to residents to simply vote. In most villages, that can mean voting early by paper ballot or showing up this Saturday at your local village center. Sadly, in too many instances, a mere few hundred will cast their vote. With so much happening, we would like to see more get involved.