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Bold vision needed for Long Reach Village Center [Letter]

I appreciated Doug Miller's commentary on the Long Reach Village Center. I think many of us who live in Columbia and have seen our village centers deteriorate over time can relate to his personal reflections on the internal conflict of believing in the village center concept, yet appreciating the conveniences of more contemporary retail.

I agree with Miller's point that having a larger contiguous piece of property certainly increases flexibility in the opportunity for redevelopment. While I am truly disappointed that the county administration and Celebration Church were not able to reach a viable agreement that would have allowed the growing congregation to meet its needs while remaining in Long Reach, I do see this opening of additional options for redevelopment as a silver lining.

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However, I think it is critically important that we not allow ourselves to view the property as a blank slate. This is a dangerous misconception.

The village center is exactly that — the center of the village; and as the keystone of an existing community, it is anything but a blank slate. Long Reach needs a bold and creative vision for the future of its village center. That vision must be the community's vision, recognizing the intricate relationships and intertwining needs of village residents, existing merchants, the Long Reach Community Association, the Columbia Association, and other neighboring property owners as well as the broader community.

Jim Rouse reminded us that "Visions describe what best should be, could be — if and when mankind has the will to make them real." I know we have the will!

I remain strongly committed to the revitalization of the Long Reach Village Center. I look forward to working with our community to create a shared vision of what the village center could and should be, and then continuing our work together to make that vision a reality.

Calvin Ball

Columbia

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