I've been asked by a lot of people about what I think about this article about the Grande Point property in Oakland Mills. Fair question; since I put my views out there for the public in this forum, I should own those views. And I'm going to own them on this issue, right here, right now.
I don't know what happened in a meeting I didn't attend. I do know that I didn't know about the meeting before it happened. I didn't know about the meeting until I walked into the village board meeting about an hour and a half late on September 21 due to a late day at work and long commute home. Then I heard about this meeting with the County Executive, Chief of Staff, and Tom Carbo.
Now, whether or not the "views of the board" were disclosed at that September 18 meeting, I don't know. But I know this board member had never taken a vote as to whether or not the Housing Commission should have bid on Grande Pointe. And I was not part of the board that reviewed the current Village Center Community Plan.
And I say "had never" because the opportunity now to further discuss this is now over. My understanding is that the time to submit bids for the property has passed. And so this lends itself to a better focus as to what really bothers me here.
I believe we have a responsibility as village leaders to do what we say. We advertised and promised to the community two meetings to discuss Grande Pointe, September 8 with Housing Commission staff and September 21 with Tom Carbo. We should have followed through on that promise. Not doing so means that we denied people on both sides of this issue a chance to have their voice heard on this matter. And that's unfortunate.
I also think that the habit of community boards in this county to hopscotch back and forth across the line of what meetings are to be disclosed to all its members is a poor one. And frankly, helps make all this county's talk of civility one big honking joke. Do I want to know all of my board colleagues' itineraries? No. But a quickly called and arranged meeting with the County Executive, Chief of Staff, and Executive Director of the Housing Commission is an important one, and what leadership does is notify the other leaders in advance in an effort to inform and to maintain support. That didn't happen and I don't get why it didn't. And I know I could ask about it in an email to my colleagues, but I'd like to have this discussed at the October 13 board meeting.
Third, the opportunity to talk Grande Pointe has passed. But we in Oakland Mills still want Tom Carbo to come to us and speak to the community about how the Housing Commission has handled the Verona property in the two years since the Commission purchased it. Most of us have asked for this to happen and I have confidence it will, after perhaps a slight cooling off period. But we still have to press for that to happen.
Does the Grande Pointe decision leave me wanting more? I don't know. I know it leaves me feeling a bit frustrated and not of much use. And when I'm in such situations, my choices are either retreating or advancing. And I don't retreat well.
Let's be careful out there.
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