Charette Was a Charade
The charade-charette meetings mystified and concerned many who attended. We never saw illustrations requested by many in the community of the Crescent area adjacent to Merriweather Post Pavillion, with a civic center that could include an enclosed theater, town hall, museum, convention center and decked parking.
Numerous participants also requested that no housing be developed in the Crescent area. They were concerned that the residents of 5,000 units would have enough political clout to have Merriweather closed, in part because of the level of sound during concerts there. Most people noticed that Design Collective Inc.'s function was to sell the General Growth Properties Inc.'s plan, despite what the majority of the participants clearly indicated they preferred -- specifically, the preservation of Clyde's restaurant, the former Rouse headquarters, the Teachers Building, and the People's Tree. The whole lakefront area, with Jim Rouse's statue, is considered hallowed ground. When Matt D'Amico of Design Collective asked for a show of hands, 80 percent to 90 percent agreed that the lakefront is the heart of Columbia.
Our County Council should immediately make the lakefront area, as it exists today, a historic district. We need to provide vitality along Little Patuxent Parkway by making it a walkable street, with sidewalks along both sides.
It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that the chairman of the Columbia Association's board, Joshua Feldmark, held a closed meeting without notifying the public. CA's officials are known for their secret meetings and for withholding information from the public. I find it interesting that the design team included in its final draft plan an illustration of what Mr. Feldmark requested at unannounced meetings, while refusing to provide illustrations of what 90 percent of the participants wanted to see. The only thing we saw was modified versions of what General Growth produced in May.