I will freely admit that some of us in Oakland Mills are guilty of being just too doggone academic. Too thinky. Some would even say we're navel gazers. And we get piqued and upset and PO'd about things, after not only the horse has left the barn, but after we knew the horse was leaving the barn and after we watched it leave! And, know what? I think there's some truth to that perception.
And being genteel and academic and intellectual doesn't get. Some people here in OM get this. And although I'm not all that thrilled by the attitudes of some of the members of the Oakland Mills Improvment Association-- some of them are just bitter, immature, jaded husks of what used to be human beings-- I appreciate that they realize that to get action, you need to apply some strong emotions. That includes being passionate and upset and maybe even angry.
Which leads me to where I am about the multi-use pathway project; specifically, the part called Phase Four, which includes the bridge over US29. Luke Lavoie has an article about it here. And I've been part of an email thread of OM leaders about the bridge. Unfortunately I couldn't attend the meeting.
And I'm not thrilled about what I've read. And it's time for all the decision makers regarding the bridge-- Howard County, Howard Hughes, and CA-- to get serious about the future of the bridge. Decide how to rebuild it. Rebuild it at another location-- across South Entrance Rd and into OM would be fine by me. But that's me speaking for me. But decide. Or else just tear down the stupid thing and forget about it.
Those are conclusions presented without justifications. Here they are.
It is apparent that the decision makers listed above have not been coordinating thoughts and conceptions regarding the bridge. Which is disappointing and sad because Bridge Columbia has been throwing up stuff for years and seeing what would stick. So here's who's annoying me and why, in order of annoyance level.
1. Howard Hughes Corporation. Who is this Bob Jenkins? A disciple of The Wolf? From the article and e-mails, sounds like an empty suit and an empty skull to match. I hold HHC most culpable here because they control the keys to the development which will then make the bridge a higher priority level for CA and Howard County, though they also hold some responsibility. And I know HHC is in plenty of trouble with Howard County. But Bob-- did you expect to gain favor with the community by telling us that you're going to toss down some asphalt soon? Get your weak stuff outta here, son.
2. Columbia Association. CA feels that discussion of the bridge is premature due to lack of residential development downtown. On the other hand the village center market study is telling us that more restaurants at the village center would be good. Hey now-- how about a nice bridge that connects Town Center's great restaurants with the existing and wonderful new restaurants that we're going to get in OM (since we know CA will be partnering with us on the village center redevelopment)-- like some healthy food (not healthy like McDonald's is considered healthy) restaurants people can stop in to while they're in the middle of their run or bike ride around Blandair and Lake Kittamaqundi? It's called vision, CA. We're looking at you to help amplify our vision and add your expertise to make it stronger.
3. Howard County. I would love to see a bridge over US29 that would be lit for the holidays-- red white and blue on Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day, Green for St. Pat's, red for Valentine's Day, red and green for Christmas and blue and white for Hannukkah. I believe in HoCo's talented staff in planning to develop ways to make the bridge a local landmark. Not the eyesore we all know it is but no one has the capital to do anything about it. And it's over a state easement so we need you to work with the state, maybe even get funding to support this. But I know that people in executive management there aren't too sanguine about the bridge because the other parties haven't stepped forth.
So, for those of you not in OM or TC grinding your teeth about the bridge and why is it important to you? Here are clear and present advantages to a nice connection over US29.
-- It expands the concept of downtown Columbia, putting thousands of homes within a 10-minute safe walk of the Columbia Lakefront. I guarantee you that if the Brooklyn Bridge weren't so damn beautiful, not as many people would use it. Can anyone think of proposing marriage to anyone on the current bridge over US29?
-- It makes property on both sides of the bridge more valuable and important in the overall mosaic of Columbia redevelopment.
-- It helps make Columbia healthier. It provides a safer connection-- more welcoming, and more people will use it. I can see cool opportunities for races using the bridge, maybe taking the pressure off of Centennial Park as the venue for all local distance and endurance races. Bring triathlons back to Lake Kittamaqundi and have them use the length of the pathway between Wilde Lake and Blandair for the run and bike portions? Why the heck not? And I am fine with lighting the pathway around the bridge.
-- It helps make Columbia safer. I have seen Howard County's finest drive across the current bridge and they're not there to sightsee. With increased foot traffic and better lighting, they won't have to. I know some have proposed upgrading the bridge sufficiently so heavier emergency vehicles can go across it. I could give and take on this point too. I believe communities are largely responsible for their own safety-- police exist for law enforcement-- and building a nice connection over 29 brings more people there, makes the property more high profile and more valued, and with those factors, evildoers will find other places to rob and do their drugs and vandalism and such. Or maybe they won't!
-- It is an opportunity to create another iconic landmark for Howard County. Maybe the Howard County iconic landmark. So we have the Inner Arbor? This bridge would connect to pathways that would connect to that. Let's have some fun with it. The Columbia Narrows Bridge? The National Gateway Bridge?
I truly become fatigued with the negative energy regarding this bridge. If decision makers don't want it, have the courage to go tell us in OM to pound sand. Heaven knows we have enough other projects to work on. We will no longer waste our time or yours on this.
But if a valuable bridge over 29 is something you want to see, then let's get concrete plans on paper. Now. The opportunity is now. And if y'all want to see anger instead-- we know how to do angry. Generally we're not liked when we're angry.
Happy Opening Night for Major League Baseball! I'll be watching. And Opening Day too! Because this post will be up through Monday. Let's go O's and Nats! Would love to have that bridge decked out in Orange and Red for a Beltway World Series in October.
And let's be careful out there.
#columbiamd #bridgecolumbia #hocopolitics