Last night I went to Columbia Association headquarters for the CA board meeting that had been scheduled on very short notice to discuss the Inner Arbor plan. Due to family commitments I had to leave before the main part of the meeting, but I was able to be there long enough to participate in the “resident speak-out” and say my piece:

Good evening. My name is Frank Hecker. I’m currently a resident of Ellicott City, and I’ve been a member of various Columbia Association programs. I’ve also blogged extensively about the Inner Arbor plan, and I’m a strong supporter of it. However I’m not here tonight to talk about my thoughts on the Inner Arbor plan; you can go to if you want to read those. Instead I want to talk about other peoples’ opinions of the plan.

The weekend before last I spent Saturday afternoon at the Inner Arbor Trust tent at Wine in the Woods. I had the opportunity to talk to several dozen people about the Inner Arbor plan, many of them Columbia residents, some from elsewhere in Howard County, and a few from out of the area. Every person I talked to, without exception, was enthusiastic about the plan and eager to see it come to fruition. They liked the Chrysalis amphitheater and thought it would be in a great location, right where the Wine in the Woods Purple stage was located. They thought having food and restrooms available at the Butterfly was an excellent idea, and that the building itself was very beautiful. When I explained what the Picnic Table was for they got it instantly, and thought it would be a great place to hang out during Wine in the Woods or at other times. Finally, they even understood the purpose of the Caterpillar in providing an improved entrance to Merriweather and an alternative to the current fence, and thought it very attractive.

The lesson here is that while our attention has been distracted by the views of those who are vocal opponents of the Inner Arbor plan,  other Columbians and Howard County residents constitute a vast unheard supermajority who like the Inner Arbor plan and want to see it completed as soon as possible. I suggest those of you who are just listening to the small group of opponents go out and discover the depth of support that the Inner Arbor plan has from ordinary Columbians once you have their attention and they have a good chance to learn more about it. That concludes my remarks. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to speak tonight.

I saw many other supporters of the Inner Arbor plan there as well, several of whom also spoke. I hope to see others blogging about the meeting itself, as I’m curious as to what happened after I left.

Trevor Greene ( - 2014-05-29 15:03

Frank, it was great to see you at the meeting. After you left, Michael McCall reviewed some details of the plan. He even included a photo from this blog and thanked you for the picture. I found that part of the presentation to be really interesting, but I think several of the people in the room have seen it before and were getting frustrated. During the presentation Reginald Avery and Alan Klein asked several pointed questions. It is clear that they were looking for any way possible to criticize the plan. At one point Alan Klein said, “no where did it say that you were to put meandering paths in the plan.” About 5 minutes later Brian Dunn pointed out that the planning board requested meandering paths. That shot Alan Klein down pretty good. I really appreciate how Brian Dunn points out the flaws in the detractors’ statements and backs it up with written documentation. About 10 more people spoke after McCall’s presentation. I wasn’t counting (this is an estimation), but I think of the 20 or so people that spoke, 17 were in favor of the Inner Arbor. One of the last few speakers said something very poignant. He said, “We are witnessing history.” He added that the pioneers had their time to lead Columbia and create something new. But now, another generation is taking the lead in Columbia and creating their own new Columbia. You really could feel a shift in the tone of the discussion at the meeting. There certainly were a grumpy few making snide remarks every minute or two, but a vast majority of people in the room were in favor of the Inner Arbor, and in favor of change. It was the first CA meeting I’ve attended, and was quite exciting. I’m really positive about the future.

hecker - 2014-05-29 18:45

Trevor, thanks very much for stopping by and writing an “eyewitness report”! (And of course thank you for showing up and speaking last night as well.)