I was one of the original planners of Columbia, moving from California to Baltimore in 1965 to work with Bill Finley, Mort Hoppenfeld, Bob Tennenbaum and a small group of planners on the soon to be developed New Town. I was hired by Jim Rouse shortly after the master plan had been approved by Howard County and, with Frank Gehry (then of Gehry, Walsh and O'Malley) Gerry Cope and others planned the Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia's lakefront and early neighborhoods.
I've recently moved back to Baltimore. Imagine my surprise in seeing an article about an "Inner Arbor" plan for Symphony Woods ("Symphony Woods' development stirs more debate," March 13). Not only surprised but horrified. Columbia's "Central Park" was always planned to be a peaceful natural park for Columbia as a relief from what we hoped, in the 1960s, would be a busy downtown. Its name even suggests what Jim Rouse and we planners intended, "Symphony Woods" not "Rock and Roll Playground."
From what has been shown of the Inner Arbor plan, it will be outrageously expensive, will be very difficult and costly to maintain, will not offer a peaceful respite from a busy downtown, will attract tourists to see the bizarre sights without serving the existing residents and will age ungracefully. A flash in the pan, if you've seen it once as a curiosity, there is no reason to come again.
I have seen the 2012 Symphony Woods Park plan approved by the Columbia Association, and it is a far superior plan for Columbia, better serves Columbia's residents and follows the intent of Jim Rouse and we original planners of Columbia. I hope that the Columbia Association and Howard County, after understanding the costs and damage that the Inner Arbor plan does to Symphony Woods and to Columbia, will reject this terrible plan.
Edwin Baker, Baltimore
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