Back to the subject matter from my Saturday post. I thank Tom Coale for posting the link to the page on the CA website for the Aquatics Master Plan. It's quite a bit of work and thought that has gone into it.
Tom very rightfully pointed out that the work of the consultants who were engaged were not to ascertain whether or not the need to create additional pool inventory exists, but how to bring that to reality through converting an existing pool. That's fine.
And goodness knows that there's only been about 250 public meetings on the Aquatics Master Plan. And who knows how many hours the CA Boards has spent reading over, reviewing the documents, attending meetings, etc. I don't doubt that this effort has been to meaningful, positive purpose. It is all good.
For-- and hold on to your hearts, ladies and gentlemen-- I really fo think that the staff and board members of the Columbia Association work hard and are doing the best for our community. I don't see conspiracy behind every initiative to define how CA is to be governed and operated.
What I do see CA sometimes is an entity that sometimes brings aggravation upon itself. Hence, these aquatics consultants. These people didn't just drop from the sky; no, they have been involved in this process for many months. But they are part of a company based out of Illinois.
This leads me to my thought for CA-- a thought that maybe would help CA from the perception that sometimes, despite all of CA's best efforts, sometimes things go into a black box and come out the other side kinda funky.
Wouldn't it be a great idea if CA relied upon external consultants for almost nothing, and instead, used labor and expertise that exists in and near Columbia and Howard County? For example, Columbia-based architects and designers have been responsible for the Bridge Columbia initiative and the concept of Thunder Hill Park-- a children's garden to be located inside Blandair Regional Park.
So do we have any Columbians or Howard Countians who know how to design or build a pool? No? Then if not, OK, put out the RFP and let's find the best possible expertise to help us solve our problem.
I describe this in the context of the pool but really, this can be applied to any situation concerning CA. I grant that the contrary argument to this is that having amateurs involved in certain matters isn't good if the expertise of specially-trained professionals may produce a better product. But I will contrast this with the notion that locals-- well, know the culture and the lay of the land better. Would they look at data with biased eyes? Possibly, but the bias would be-- should be-- kind.
And outside help has a great role to play in helping us, as facilitators. I think back to the charrette process that eventually resulted in the Downtown Master Plan. Facilitated by outside experts, but the thought product of locals and locals alone.
So please, no one get me wrong. I think CA is overall doing a superb job with the aquatics mater plan. I simply wonder if the wisdom that CA seeks, on this issue and for that matter, on others, can't be found closer to home.