The Columbia Association board Thursday night tabled voting to elect two board members to serve on the board of directors for the Inner Arbor Trust — an entity that will be set up to manage the redevelopment of Symphony Woods Park.
The board voted to pursue setting up the trust after adopting last month the Inner Arbor Plan, which consists of placing an arts village on the eastern side of the park as the lead concept for the redevelopment of the land.
The trust, which is expected to obtain 501(c)(3) status, will consist of two CA board members, the CA President ex-officio and two members of the community.
It was anticipated that the two board members serving on the trust board would be elected from a pool of six self-nominated members — Regina Clay of Wilde Lake, Tom Coale of Dorsey's Search, Ed Coleman of Long Reach, Cynthia Coyle of Harper's Choice, Alex Hekimian of Oakland Mills and Gregg Schwind of Hickory Ridge, according to CA President Phil Nelson.
The anticipated vote was tabled after River Hill representative Michael Cornell, and others, said voting on electing the members was not properly advertised on the agenda released March 9.
"The item on the agenda specifically says special topics for presentation," Cornell said. "I'm having trouble because the item is not on here as an action item, it's on here as an item for presentation."
Cornell's motion to table was supported by five other board members. Owen Brown representative Andy Stack and Clay abstained, while Coale was the lone vote against (Town Center representative Suzanne Waller was absent).
Although Cornell's motion to table the vote ended a contentious discussion, it was punctuated by a passionate 10 minute soliloquy from Coyle about the perceived lack of transparency with the agenda.
"We have a rush to make a decision, and I do not understand what's going on with that. We have the capability of thinking through this," Coyle said. "The Inner Arbor Plan is great. The trust concept is good. There is a serious problem, with what looks to be, even if it's not true, a transparency issue."
Coyle raised questions about the structure of the trust, including term limits for board representatives and what happens if a board member elected to the trust board loses their seat on the CA board.
"Are they elected for two years? One year? Does this board switch them out? That is a process discussion," Coyle said. "This is an election of people with no discussion of what happens to them."
After Coyle's speech, the majority of the eight to 10 residents in attendance, many of whom testified against different facets of the plan and the trust, applauded.
The issue could come up for a vote again at the board's next meeting on March 28.
Exhibit C: A comment from Alan Klein on the HCCA listserve about said article:
What the article doesn't mention is that the CA Board voted AGAINST asking CA President Nelson to come up with a full plan to answer the questions that were raised. They just put the decision off for two weeks so that it could be listed as an "Action Item" on their agenda and, therefore, be eligible for a vote. (It was listed as a "Presentation" on last night's agenda and not, therefore, eligible for a vote.)
And NOBODY has asked how the 2 non-CA Board members of the new corporation's board will be selected. Or how the bylaws of the new corporation will be drafted and decided upon. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Remember all those good feeelings we have had about progress starting on Symphony Woods? About the Inner Arbor plan? Well, those good feelings are being threatened. Because, as the above exhibits suggest, opponents of the development of downtown Columbia are starting to do what they do best. Invoke unnecessary issues of process as a means of raising doubt about the product, and the motivations behind the people responsible for the product.
I'd been thinking for three days about how best to address this topic. I'd read Tom's post and ultimately, I decided to kind of put the MM character aside for my discussion of this. Yeah, been kinda serious this weekend. Anyway, the redevelopment of Columbia is no joke.
Neither, for that matter, are sincere issues of process. But using legitimate process questions to advance an agenda that has already been demonstrably proven to be contrary to the wishes of the people of Columbia-- through their elected representatives, the CA Board-- well, that's the sort of stunt Congress has been fabulous in pulling. And it works so well for them.
In Tom's post I sense he kind of kicks himself a little for being responsible for creating the situation the opponents of progress used to their advantage. He shouldn't. If there wasn't that issue, there would've been something else. Experience has shown me, that's how these people roll.
So, now we're in the quicksand of CA process. How exhilarating! Next chapter will apparently unfold on March 28.