The Columbia Association Board Of Directors last week elected two members to serve on the board of the Inner Arbor Trust, a nonprofit organization set up by CA to manage the development of Symphony Woods.
The trust, which will apply for 501(c)(3) status, is named after the Inner Arbor Plan, the newly adopted design for Symphony Woods that calls for an arts village, CA headquarters, theaters and restaurants on the eastern side of the park.
Following a silent vote on Thursday, March 28, the board elected Hickory Ridge representative Gregg Schwind and Long Reach representative Ed Coleman from the field of six to serve on the trust board.
In addition to the two CA members, the five-member trust board with consist of the person holding the office of CA President and two members of the community, both of whom will be appointed by the three other trust board members.
Before ballots were cast, each of the six candidates, who nominated themselves, delivered two-minute candidate statements.
The rest of the field included: Wilde Lake representative Regina Clay, Dorsey's Search representative Tom Coale and the two members of the board who voted against the approval of the Inner Arbor plan, Alex Hekimian of Oakland Mills and Cynthia Coyle of Harper's Choice.
Schwind, who received the most votes, has been one of the more vocal proponents of the plan.
"I, like others, care deeply about this project and deeply about this plan. I favor every aspect of this plan," Schwind said before the vote. "This will transform downtown into something we will be proud of. ... My goal is to do everything I can to move the plan forward."
Coleman, who also voted on Feb. 14 to approve the concept plan, said he will bring a critical eye to the board.
"By nature I'm skeptical of almost anything, and I'm skeptical of this plan," Coleman said before the vote. "There's value in planning, but I don't know if I necessarily believe in the value of the plan itself. I think I bring that strength to the (Inner Arbor) Board."
Following the first ballot, Coleman and Coale tied for second-most votes.
Coale, who has been an ardent proponent of the plan both in board meetings, on his blog HoCoRising and in letters to the editor, lost to Coleman in a second round of head-to-head balloting.
"I've made myself a lightning rod for this issue, and that is because I care passionately about the success of this plan," Coale said prior to the vote.
In his morning blog March 29, Coale commended the board for their vote, stating, "We really can't have someone like me on that board. Not right now."
During the resident speak out at the beginning of the meeting, a contingent of 8 to 12 community members against the trust reiterated their stance.
"It would seem to this observer that it is premature for the current CA board to even think or deal with the election of a board for the non-existent Inner Arbor Trust," said Town Center resident Joel Broida. "Vote this evening to table the election of the Inner Arbor Trust board nominees."
Prior to the silent ballot, the board approved to hold an election by a 6-3 count, with Coleman, Hekimian and Coyle voting against.
In CA we 'trust'
According to a list of frequently asked questions published on Coale's blog, the two-pronged purpose of creating a 501(c)(3) organization is to raise money for the project through deductible donations and to take the day-to-day responsibilities of managing the development away from the CA board so it can focus on other items.
While the governing documents of the board of the Inner Arbor Trust have not been created, it must abide by the following conditions:
• It must be a 501(c)(3) entity, able to accept charitable donations and grants.
• It must implement the approved Inner Arbor Plan, unless otherwise directed by the CA board.
• It must be a five-member board consisting of two CA board members, the current CA president and two community members.
• It must enter into a perpetual easement agreement with CA, allowing the trust to manage the development of CA-owned land in Symphony Woods.
Initially, $1.6 million budgeted for the project will be allocated to the trust from CA. Additional funding for the trust will come from grants as well as future allocations approved by the CA board.
CA officials have said on multiple occasions that the organization will retain ownership of Symphony Woods throughout the development.