Yesterday I wrote of an idea which is going to be raised at Wednesday night's FY15 Budget Session with the County Executive which I support and which would be worthy of your support too. Today, I'm here to tell you what it is!
Ian Kennedy, Stevens Forest resident and all-around man about town the last 10 years or so-- has it been that long already???-- has an idea to create a "Neighborhood Investment Fund" in Howard County. The point of this fund, which would be seeded with county dollars, would be to seek grants or private funding to add to it. Once augmented, the funds could be used for a number of community-building enhancements, such as modernizing housing stock, promoting retail development in the Columbia village centers, improving Columbia facilities and supporting more school enrichment activities.
Ian admits that it's not a very fleshed-out idea and well, it's not. But it's one worth keeping. Here's why.
Because, despite what some who want to maintain the status quo in Columbia may claim, time is not on our, or their, side. In his testimony for Wednesday's meeting, Ian writes of a huge problem coming down the pike with regard to suburban housing, a crisis recently outlined in Atlantic magazine. (Unfortunately I am too lazy to provide a link.)
Anywho, the study cites the fact that the baby boomers are aging, and that generations behind them have much less of a predeliction towards the type of suburban development that Columbia is. Therefore, Columbia needs to change, or else a huge tax base in Howard County is going to start to become stale. And if that happens, my view is that the disparity of income levels and housing prices between Columbia and non-Columbia in Howard County will only increase, which will lead to many other sorts of social ills.
Creating this fund is therefore a logical and wise first step towards acknowledging the existence of this problem and to express the willingness to do something about it. It's a noble idea that may need further and more granualr defining, but it's worth it. So Hayduke, sign me up!
The only downside I can see to this is criticism that this is a Columbia-based initiative. I actually think this thing could and should be translated and applied countywide.
So if you see Ian down there Wednesday evening (you woun't see me because I'll be busy counting my 600 million smackeroos) ask him about the idea. And maybe give him a hug. A tiny one would be OK.
Let's be careful out there.