Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has proposed $5 million in one-time funding for the arts and cultural programs and facilities in Downtown Columbia while throwing his support behind the Columbia Association’s Inner Arbor Plan for Symphony Woods.

Ulman released details of his proposed $966.7 million fiscal 2014 operating budget Friday, including the one-time funding for arts and cultural programs in Columbia.

According to Ulman, his funding is intended for a combination of projects, including a new downtown arts center and the first phase of the CA-adopted Inner Arbor Plan, which envisions an interactive sculpture and outdoor amphitheater in the northern section of Symphony Woods.

Ulman said he is “really excited” about the direction of Symphony Woods and the notion that it will become “a great central park for arts and culture.”


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“Downtown Columbia is, to a certain extent, Howard County’s downtown,” he said.

Although he only has one budget left in his term to allocate funding for the project, Ulman said he hopes the county will continue help fund the plan, which was approved by the CA board as the lead concept for the woods on Feb. 14. 

“It’s really a very important piece of our economic development future, it’s an important piece of our tax base future,” he said. “A modest investment into a great park that helps all of that come together is really, truly in the county’s best interest.”

CA has set up the Inner Arbor Trust, an entity consisting of a five-member board that includes CA President Phil Nelson and two CA board members, to manage the development of the park and solicit financial contributions from outside sources, including the county government. 

The entity is in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service. 

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Luke Lavoie contributed to this report.