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Gehry is right about Symphony Woods [Letter]

CultureJames Rouse

Thank you to Frank Gehry, who joins the hundreds of us who have provided constructive input to the Columbia Association Board of Directors regarding the "improvement" of Symphony Woods, a parkland adjacent to the Columbia Mall and owned by the Columbia Association, i.e. owned by all annual CA charge payers ("Frank Gehry: Inner Arbor plans 'deeply disturb me,'" March 5).

Two years ago Cy Paumier, an internationally known and respected peer colleague of James Rouse, submitted a plan for Symphony Woods that was decisively approved by the Columbia Association Board of Directors as well as the Howard County Planning Board.

Then a strange process began, unknown to most, and hopefully unknown to CA Board members.

Behind closed doors in secret meetings, a new set of designs was developed.

No publicity, no resident input, no notification of, but a rather dramatic announcement by the soon to be ex-CA President Phil Nelson.

A storm of protest ensued, but the new designers went ahead undeterred, producing the weirdest set of "amenities" imaginable: a floating turf picnic deck (pervious? impervious?) a threatening faux crystal insect looming over the pathways, a playground fit for an upscale school where adult supervision is required.

The disrespect shown to Mr. Paumier personally and to his sensible, sensitive, flexible design is stunning and beyond comprehension. Shame is the term to describe this incredible betrayal of public trust.

The community needs to demand that those in charge act on the views that were beautifully, appropriately expressed by Frank Gehry and so totally agreed upon by us all.

Mary Pivar, Columbia

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