CA board approves concept plan for Symphony Woods

CA board approves concept plan for Symphony Woods
The Columbia Association unveiled new plans for the Symphony Woods Park on Friday. (Provided by the Columbia Association)

The Columbia Association board approved the adoption of the Inner Arbor plan as the new development plan for Symphony Woods Park with an 8-2 vote at its meeting on Thursday.

"The Columbia Association board has taken an important step in embracing a new vision for Symphony Woods and Downtown Columbia," Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said in a statement. "Working together, we can bring fresh vibrancy to Columbia and fulfill James Rouse's vision. This is a good day for this community's future."


The plan, which was introduced to the public in January, will create an arts village on the eastern side of the park that will include Toby's Dinner Theatre, a children's theater, three restaurants, a CA headquarters and 1,750-space parking garage.

The plan also calls for an iconic interactive sculpture, a tree-top amphitheater, an elevated canopy walk and a curated sculpture garden in the southern end of the park.

Also on Thursday, the board voted to adopt four other CA staff recommendations regarding the park, three of which dealt with the creation and operation of the Inner Arbor Trust, a 501(c)(3) organization that will manage the development of the park.

The board authorized CA President Phil Nelson to begin drafting governing documents of the trust, a task Nelson said he, CA staff and outside attorneys will begin next week.

The trust will be managed by a five-member board consisting of the CA President ex-oficio, two CA board members, and two community members.

Nelson said all documents governing the trust, which will include how the remaining four members will be selected, will be brought to the CA board for approval.

Nelson added that he anticipates the meetings of the trust will be open to the public.

Once the trust is established, the $1.6 million originally budgeted for Symphony Woods park will be transferred from the board to the trust.

As for the park, CA will begin creating a site development plan for the northern part of the park, which includes the sculpture and the current location of "Wine in the Woods," as soon as possible, according to CA spokesman David Greisman.

The site development plan for Phase One will then be submitted to the County Planning Board for approval.

The site development plan process makes up the final eight steps of the county's 16-step development process, which is mandated by the county's 30-year downtown Columbia master plan.

Phase Two and Phase Three of the park, which includes the bulk of the development, will begin at step one of the 16-step process. Greisman said CA will begin discussing with county officials how to proceed on the final two phases.

The only two board members to vote against adopting the five recommendations were Alex Hekimian from Oakland Mills and Cindy Coyle from Harper's Choice.