Much of what fueled the past year's effort to incorporate Columbia originated in the sometimes insensitive approach taken by the Columbia Association in its relations with the community.
Continued evidence of such callousness can be seen in the way the association is handling construction of the $5.2 million Fairway Hills Golf Course. In that case, some unexpected modifications in the course's design angered nearby residents in Wilde Lake.
For the larger community, the modifications represent minor tinkering. But for Wilde Lake residents who live along the 18-hole project, the changes are another matter. This spring, the association annoyed residents by erecting a 1,000-foot-long chain link fence separating the course from the Hannibal Grove townhouses without seeking architectural approval. The organization also changed the location of a tee at the 13th hole, placing it closer to homes along Ten Mills Road.
The history of the association, particularly regarding the golf course, should have told officials to move cautiously. After years of hand-wringing over community opposition to the course, officials were foolish not to expect folks to be suspicious of how the project would be handled. And what does it say about an organization charged with upholding architectural standards when it refuses to follow those guidelines itself?
Now, the association has put itself in the position of trying to placate residents with promises of improved landscaping along the facility. But the damage done isn't just to the aesthetics of the area. The community's trust has been eroded to the point where ideas about radical reform, such as formally incorporating Howard County's planned city, get a boost. Officials ought to know better.
VANDAL, HEAL THYSELF: Maybe the vandals who have bee damaging public property in Columbia should consider this: With the $80,000 that the Columbia Association was forced to spend this past year to clean up graffiti, it could have done more for
youths like the ones suspected of the damage, such as lowering pool fees or expanding the midnight basketball program about to get underway. When people destroy their community, they only hurt themselves.