Letter: CA plan will make Symphony Woods 'crown jewel of a New Columbia'

Although I serve on the Columbia Association Board of Directors, I write this letter as an individual interested in the future of Columbia and Symphony Woods.

Your article regarding the Planning Board's review of CA's plans for Symphony Woods seems to crystallize the various considerations that come into play when executing a democratically deliberative process for designing a park. I hope it is clear to the community that CA staff and the Board of Directors have spent many hours walking the line between rejuvenation and preservation.


While many speakers expressed concern about the removal of trees, others criticized the plan for not providing enough of a draw, a continuing criticism that is repeated without solution or alternative. In the most micro sense, these considerations may appear contradictory, but on a macro level, it shows just how difficult it is to have a park planned by the multitude as opposed to the single benevolent developer to which we have become accustomed.

I write this letter to ask the Columbia community to avoid the paralysis of division. We have the opportunity to create a truly spectacular park for which the final plans have yet to be drafted. Subjective understanding of what a park should be, and what constitutes a "draw." are legion and diminished in their surplus.


The Columbia Association has engaged, and will continue to engage, expert consultants from all over the country to stage this park with the development of the surrounding city, and make it the crown jewel of a New Columbia. As additional resources are available, the park will further flourish under a plan that respects the original natural surroundings and augments the park's use with future programmatic features.

CA will always solicit and value community input. That is what distinguishes CA development proposals from those of Howard Hughes and General Growth Properties. When CA's plans begin the 16-step approval process, these proposals have already undergone hours of public testimony and deliberation with many edits along the way.

I can only hope, and expect, that this investment in the interests of our residents, the deliberative process underlying these plans, and the difficulty in managing contrasting interests therein, is respected by our elected leaders and other Columbia stake-holders. The alternative is the status quo of an empty forest. I think we decided a long time ago that Columbia was destined for something much greater than that.

Tom Coale

Dorsey's Search