Columbia Out-parcel and development outlook

This is the Columbia out-parcel and development outlook. I wish this will give you some useful information for the future development around Columbia.

Columbia Out-Parcels County Presentation-November 8, 2018

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CA board meeting summaries 2018-11-8

This is an unofficial summary. 

Board Work Session

Resident speakout:

  1. Chris Alleva, missed his talk. In his written testimony, talked about CB73, which was withdrawn and could possibly come back in front of the planning board in next January (Royal Farms SDP 17-041)
  2. Brian England, missed his speech.
  3. Amy Gallagher, talked about mold issues related to the facility they rented and impacted their operation, created extra financial burden and operation hardship.
  4. Alan Klein, representing his village, talking about the mold issue and thanked CA staff.

Discussion

Howard County Phase 2 Land Development Regulations Assessment:
  1. There are 36 different zoning codes. That is one of the reasons the County Government wants to rewrite the zoning law and recude the zoning category.
  2. Out-parcels with Columbia Planning area: there are 7% ( 365 acres) for undeveloped residential parcel for future residential development.
Discussion of the Most Recent Development Tracker
Capital Projects and Open Space Updates
Four Easement Requests from Howard Count

Board Meeting

The board approved the pathway system in the Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods with condition from board final approval.

Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods

 

Thank you for the general election win

I am so excited that Team Wu won the second place in the 2018 HoCo BOE election with more than 51000 votes.

Thanks to the voters who trusted me and my volunteers who worked in the rain, in the cold, in the heat and dropped the literature in the neighborhood. It is a collaborative effort to get to this place.

I appreciate other candidates’ effort. Each candidate provides a unique perspective to our school system. I always say “Once a volunteer, always a volunteer”. I am looking forward to working with all of them in the future.

I am looking forward to working with all board members to serve HCPSS. I will not forget “A vote for Wu is a vote for you”.

2018 HoCo general election amendment guide

Amendment 1: (YES)

Let’s fix the loophole and keep the promise (using gambling money to fund education). Even I don’t agree with funding the education by gambling money or marijuana tax.

Amendment 2: (NO)

Same day registration will create much longer waiting line and cost more money. It is unnecessary.

Two thoughts on this:

  1. I feel we need have a study whether eight days early voting is increasing the voter participation or not. We should shorten it to be four days. By the way, I totally support more voter participation/awareness, the better community.
  2. We need make Election Day a federal holiday. If everyone agrees election is so important, and every vote is so important, let’s celebrate election with a day off and offer people more convenience to vote.

Amendment 3: ( YES)

Howard County Council will have more time for a bill. I agree with it. It does not hurt giving them extra days. Last time, they passed a bill which expired and I hope that will not happen again.

Vote for Wu

Tomorrow I will work with my volunteer team on the field under a bad weather. With their strong support, I believe our voters will feel the same passion as Team Wu: All about quality education.

Even a puppy knows that.

We are prepared for the bad weather with our little volunteer to help.

Answers to Dunloggin Community

Dr. Chao Wu’s reply 

2018-11-1

  1. What is your opinion about need for redistricting in HC? How will you vote as a BOE member to relief school overcrowding and why?

First, I am against massive-scale redistricting. We should find better solutions which will disrupt as less students as possible. We should put our students first.

Second, the process should be improved. We need get better data. We need assign a weight to each criteria in Policy 6010 (for example, each criteria is weighted 1/13=7.7% or different weight).  However, this weight should be predefined before the polygon move. Equity, community, cost, transportation, etc , all should be considered in the redistricting process.  We should not let one single factor dedicate the outcome of the redistricting.

  1. What is your opinion on overdevelopment? Is there a need to stop it? What would you do as a BOE member to resolve school overcrowding due to overdevelopment?

I testified in front of the County Council last year at 11:30 PM and asked them to strengthen the APFO which governs the development. We need continue to advocate for a planned development such that development will be paced with infrastructure, school, and transportation support.

The school board has no control on the overdevelopment because that is the county council power. However, as a BOE member, we can advocate for better planning.

  1. You attended a BOE candidates forum at Dunloggin and learnt more about our community. How would you vote during redistricting process on Dunloggin polygons: To partially redistrict Dunloggin from Centennial School To redistrict entire neighborhood from Centennial High To keep entire neighborhood in Centennial High school Please explain why you chose your answer.

I strongly support keeping community together. Our students grow up from the neighbor, play in the neighborhood and support the neighborhood.

  1. What do you think about a concept of“development polygons” tool that was recommended by Christina Delmont-Small? Would you implement it? Please explain your answer. If yes, how?

I need carefully think of it. I have no position on the development polygon yet.

  1. There are multiple school bus routs running along Frederick road and Main street, East from rt. 29. Last two floods took place during non school days. As a board member, would you take any actions to remove school bused from flood zone? Please explain the reason why? If yes, what would you do?

Student safety will be the No.1 concern for me. I want our students who go to school safely and come back home safely. If actions are needed for school bus not crossing the flood zone, I will support to change the route of the school bus.

  1. What is your opinion on social engineering? Do you think it should be applied in our public schools? Why do you think so? (you don’t have to answer this question if you don’t want to)

Our school need educate our students and make sure they learn something in the school and grow themselves along the years.  Every student has their own potential and the school system needs try their best to help them to achieve that potential.

School can’t do it alone. They need help from the families and the communities.

The school could not dedicate the success of each student, but should strive their best to provide the opportunity for them, or build the bridge for them to succeed.

  1. What do you think about having children with different levels and abilities? Do you think all kids should be at the same level or is it ok to develop gifted children? What would you do as a BOE member?

I believe we should educate our children based on their need and their capacity. There is a balance of both. We need educate our student to fit their capacity and meet their needs.

I support to strengthen the GT program. GT is for the program, not for labeling students. Our students have the need for differentiated learning experience.

 

 

Proactive Engagement in Land Development Needed (The Villager 2018-11)

Council Corner:

Proactive Engagement in Land Development Needed

 Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.

The letter will be published on Nov 2018 issue of “The Villager” of River Hill Community Association.

The Patuxent Storage Facility under construction near Guilford Road at the entrance to the Patuxent Branch Trail in the Village of Kings Contrivance has recently been the focus of the Columbia Association’s (CA) board of directors and many residents. The issue is the location of the access to the storage facility. Rather than entering from Guilford Road or through adjoining CA open space, the developer chose to locate the entrance using a road which for many years has been used by the public to access the Patuxent Branch Trail. This decision resulted in many residents feeling unhappy about the developer’s choice. After numerous meetings, the county has agreed to pay at least $200K to build a new pathway connector to the Patuxent Branch Trail. This new connector will run through CA open space to replace the old, nearly 200-meter pathway that will be used by the developer to access the storage facility The CA board eventually approved a land easement so the county can build this separate and new pathway to ensure public access to the trail, pedestrian safety, and minimize the environmental impact of the project.

What was missing in this project was a quick and direct communication between stakeholders. The community needs a coordinated effort from our county council (zoning approval agency), the county government and developers.  The community needs to be informed early in the process. In some cases, the community does not necessarily oppose the development, but would like to provide input to make the development better. Columbia has been a planned community from the start and residents expect future growth to be planned with community input.

In the Village of River Hill, the association’s board of directors has been actively engaging in the process as development occurs around the village. Even on issues as small as the right turn exit by the McDonald’s, the association has coordinated with Kimco Realty several times to improve safety because some drivers make illegal left turns there. Current projects the association is reviewing and providing input on are:  the Erickson Living Continuing Care Retirement community with a capacity of more than 1200 residences; the redevelopment of the garden center as the River Hill Square commercial project, Cedar Creek (formerly the Simpson Oaks) residential development with 184 units; and most recently the Robinson Overlook 48-unit affordable housing development proposed on Grace Drive.

The board seeks to bring our residents’ concerns to the developers, zoning board, county government, and even the State Highway Administration to make sure that proper consideration is given to the impacts on traffic and safety and residents’ quality of life. The community association welcomes residents’ participation in various committees established by the village board so that we proactively engage with stakeholders as development projects arise. To find out more about the Traffic and Safety and Development Committees visit https://www.villageofriverhill.org/board/committees/.

Finally, please don’t forget to vote in the Primary Election on Tuesday, November 6. It is our civic duty and a perfect opportunity to begin to engage with the development process.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: superbwu@gmail.com  Website: http://www.chaowu.org

 

 

2018 Howard County early voting locations for general election

The following four centers open from 10 am to 8 pm daily from 10/25(Thursday)–11/1(Thursday). A vote for Wu is a Vote for you.

1) Miller branch Library, 9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042

2) The Bain Senior Center, 5470 Ruth Kenton Way, Columbia, MD 21044

3) Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship, MD 21794

4) Ridgely’s Run Community Center, 8400 Mission Road, Jessup, MD 20794

Chao Wu for BOE, final pitch before the general election

No endorsement is better than our voters’ trust. As an independent candidate and non-partisan election, I am asking for your support to vote for me during the 2018 Howard County Board of Education election.

It is you, our voters, by making a little bit of effort to understand the candidate’s background, experience, and vision for the school system, make an informed vote. Your vote is my endorsement.  With this belief in my heart, I won the primary in June with 15600 votes without any organizational endorsement.  I am looking for your continuous support.

Here are my main points:

  1. Keep an open mind. For many problems, people naturally have different views based on their personal experiences, background and priority. These diverse points of view will give us a great understanding why some problems seem easy, but are difficult to solve. From my life experience that I was educated and lived in multiple countries with diverse cultural, educational and racial background, I will be a champion on this. I will also be the independent voice on the board.
  2. Get the data right, the process transparent and the communication channel open. As a data scientist using machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms in my professional work, we need get the data right. We need try our best to have evidence-based and data-based analytic solutions for our problems.  With my advocacy on the board, I believe HCPSS can and should do better.
  3. Ask tough questions. When a board member asks questions, it is in general not an attack to our staff. It is the curiosity and responsibility of a board member to get the fact right and make an informed vote. This accountability will make our school system better, increase the trust of HCPSS from the general public.
  4. I have almost four-year experience as a board member on Columbia Association ( 80 million dollar yearly budget) board and have been an active volunteer in HCPSS.  The board experience and volunteer advocacy will serve HCPSS on day one. I will be a team player on the school board and together we will provide quality education to our students.

I will be your voice and you are my strength.

A Vote for Wu is a Vote for you.

Save the best for last.  ( My name is always shown at the last in the ballot)

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HCPSS GT Program Overview

Last Saturday at Miller Library, HCPSS GT program director Debbie Blum gave a great seminar. I learned a lot through this very interactive seminar. Here is the slide ( too large to post here)

https://www.hcpss.org/f/academics/gt/gt-program-overview-pres-academy.pdf

She emphasized GT was for the program, not for labeling our kids. I totally agree with her. The program is to challenge our kid’s learning. There are around 100 GT resource teachers in HCPSS and each school has their own.  It totally depends on each school’s participation. Some schools have over 40% students taking different GT classes and some other schools have around 10% students taking GT classes.  When there is a need, the school system will try its best to meet the student need.

From Chinese teaching philosophy by Confucius, teaching should be differentiated based on individual capability and need.  Students have diverse and changing interests when they grow up. The school should find ways to stimulate those interests and motivate them.

Students have different growth path. Some students have later or slower learning curve. The GT program may put much pressure on them and hinder their capability of free growing-up. How can our school system find a way avoid such a problem?

I have reservation on magnet schools when people asked my opinion on magnet schools. I learn some lessons from what is happening in Montgomery County School System. It is better to spread resources in each individual school, instead concentrate it in only a few schools unless absolutely needed.

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CA 101: Learn More About Columbia Association on October 23

For any residents who are interested in knowing more about CA, here is an opportunity.
 
CA 101: Learn More About Columbia Association on October 23
CA 101 is an informative evening where you can learn about what Columbia Association is doing for you. Along with a brief orientation on the history and organization of Columbia Association, learn about CA’s open spaces, sport and fitness programs, 
community services and more.
CA 101 will be held on Tuesday, October 23 from 7-9 p.m. at CA Headquarters, 
6310 Hillside Court, off Broken Land Parkway and Stevens Forest Road.
To register, please visit ColumbiaAssociation.org/ca101 

feedback mechanism in our school system

Feedback is one of the most important words when I began to learn automatic control theory in college.  The PID algorithm is such a beauty to do object tracking automatically in our real life which has been advancing human life for many many years. One application is the cruise control button in our car. As simple as when we drive on the highway, we will slow down when we are too fast, we need accelerate when are too slow. Human has the built-in feedback system which is learned over years when we grow up.

Our school system needs such a feedback mechanism too. A consistent, timely feedback mechanism should be built into our school program performance evaluation. In software design, we have another term: continuous integration and testing. That means the system will automatically check the system performance without any human interference when there is any change . This will minimize human errors. We also need the feedback mechanism to run continuously and share that result with us whenever available. Any anomaly in the system will be detected automatically and then analyzed by humans later.

Many our school programs are multi-layered. However, we should try our best to set some quantifiable, measurable objective function, evaluate them continuously and get the feedback into the human hands periodically.

We should make substantial effort to get the input data right, set up a feedback process and evaluate program performance continuously for our school system.

Fiscal Year 2018 – Strategic Plan Progress Report of Columbia Association (The Villager 2018-09)

Fiscal Year 2018 – Strategic Plan Progress Report of Columbia Association

by Dr. Chao Wu

The article will be published on The Village, September 2018 Issue. 

Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.

The Columbia Association’s (CA) Board of Directors approved its Strategic Plan in May 2014. The plan has a five-year horizon and is used to help guide the organization’s operational and resource allocation decision-making to ensure that actions and investments are in alignment with CA’s vision, mission, values, goals and objectives. This plan was created by CA board members, CA staff and community stakeholders before I joined the CA board and is structured around five goals. Annually, CA staff prepares a report outlining the organization’s achievements in meeting these goals. Below are some highlights from the FY18 Progress Report (May 2017 – April 2018).

Goal 1: “Deliver programs and services that meet stakeholders’ expectations and enhance the quality of life in Columbia.”

CA initiated a variety of changes at the fitness clubs based on customer feedback gained through the Clarabridge survey data system, CA’s member experience management system. The personal training program partnered with School Age Services to provide fitness programming in before and aftercare programs at Columbia schools. CA introduced programs to expand tennis offerings, including Tennis Whizz for three-and four-year olds with a guardian; Play Tennis Fast for new adult players; indoor Pickleball league play; and daytime tennis leagues for players who work in the evening or at night. The International Exchange and Multicultural Programs division hosted an Intracultural Conversation on Aging with the Korean Senior Association and Columbia Community Exchange participants.

Goal 2: “Maintain and enhance Columbia’s facilities, open spaces, connectivity and environmental stewardship.”

By the end of FY 18, CA had reduced its energy use intensity by 20 percent relative to FY12. CA in coordination with Ecotine was awarded a State Highway Administration (SHA) grant for a stream restoration project that will restore one-and-a quarter miles of stream that runs from Cedar Lane Park, through Wilde Lake, to Lake Kittamaqundi. CA continued to improve its pathway system with repaving and pathway widenings. Directional signs for Kendall Ridge (19 signs) and for the Lake Elkhorn to Hopewell Pool pathway (seven signs) were designed and produced.  CA completed construction of the Long Reach Indoor Tennis Facility to address the need for cutting-edge, indoor tennis courts.

Goal 3: “Develop and communicate a shared community vision for Columbia, and advance the vision through advocacy, partnerships and alignment of CA programs and services.”

In conjunction with many community partners, CA implemented the Columbia 50th Birthday celebration and events. The celebration goals were met: generate awareness of Columbia’s history and values, serve as a catalyst for imagination and innovation in creating community, and promote the original values of Columbia in addressing the needs of people

Goal 4: “Strengthen communication and community engagement in CA.”

Sports and Fitness held three open houses to invite the public into our facilities to experience what we have to offer. Over 900 non-member guests participated. ​The CA Camps webpage was updated to make it easier for the community to learn about camp program offerings and sign-up. CA established a New Climate Change and Sustainability Advisory Committee.

Goal 5: “Demonstrate the practices of a high-performing and responsive organization.”

CA established an internal Business/Technology Steering Committee to advise CA’s President and provide leadership in strategic business/technology planning, project prioritization/management, and project approval as well as direction on long-term technology strategies for CA. The Learning and Organizational Development Division introduced and taught a new Management Essentials Course designed to improve the management skills of our CA Team Leaders. School Age Services implemented online registration and had appointments for participants to turn in their paperwork for the 2017/2018 school year. Sports and Fitness implemented a new online reservation system at Hobbit’s Glen called Golf Genius and introduced live scoring for tournaments. Sports and Fitness also introduced an online coaching and communication platform in tennis called Tenicity, which links the player, coach and parent as part of player development for competitive juniors in the program. CA additionally launched PlaySight Smart Court Pro Technology at Long Reach Tennis Club, which can call lines, the score as well as be used for coaching.

In FY18 CA accomplished its strategic goals in many additional ways. To view the entire Progress Report, visit https://www.columbiaassociation.org/about-us/strategic-plan/ or visit my website. I look forward to hearing your feedback on CA’s strategic goals and the implementation of the plan.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: superbwu@gmail.com  Website: http://www.chaowu.org

 

 

BOE discussion on Options to Relieve High School Overcrowding

The original document is here https://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/hcpssmd/Board.nsf/files/B3PMYR5D8F2E/$file/08%2023%202018%20%20Options%20to%20Relieve%20HS%20Overcrowding%20BR.pdf

Here is my quick summary for your reference:

Background:

Several Howard County Public Schools are outside of the target utilization range (90 percent – 110 percent) as defined by Policy 6010 School Attendance Areas. Specifically, Howard HS, Centennial HS, Long Reach HS, Mt Hebron HS and Hammond HS are projected to be above 110 percent capacity utilization, excluding relocatables, within the next five years of the projection. Long Reach HS is expected to receive relief from the JumpStart program to lower the capacity utilization below 110 percent in SY 2018-19. The Board of Education voted on June 7, 2018 to direct the Superintendent to provide comprehensive options in order to relieve crowding, specifically at the high school level and attendance areas for HS #13.

Existing opportunities:

  1. Jumpstart program
    • As of this date, approximately 500 students, including 260 out-of-district students from Centennial HS, Long Reach HS and Howard HS, have enrolled in JumpStart at River Hill HS or Oakland Mills HS. It is anticipated that trailing siblings will take advantage of JumpStart as well. Based on historic trends, 12 to 14 percent of the student population at Centennial HS, Long Reach HS and Howard HS are out of their home school during some portion of the day to attend Applications Research Laboratory (ARL) or Howard Community College (HCC), or to participate in work-study, internships or other off-campus obligations. In SY 2019-20, we estimate 13 to 24 percent of students at Centennial HS, Long Reach HS and Howard HS will take advantage of either JumpStart or other the existing off-campus programmatic offerings.
  2. relocatable classrooms
    • As of this writing, HCPSS employs 229 relocatable classroom spaces, in one, five or nine classroom units. This count includes relocatables used for Howard County Recreation and Parks. Including relocatable classrooms, all elementary, middle and high schools are projected to be under 110 percent capacity utilization.

Additional Opportunities:

Boundary Adjustments

As demonstrated in the summer 2017 boundary review process, to access available capacity, changing boundaries in the central part of the county is likely.

Open Enrollment:
  1. This option is not associated with enrollment in JumpStart or any other regional program.
  2. The proposed sending schools are Centennial HS, Howard HS, Long Reach HS, and Mt. Hebron HS.
  3. The proposed receiving schools are Glenelg HS, Marriotts Ridge HS and Oakland Mills HS.
  4. Because of the JumpStart out of district students and anticipated trailing siblings, River Hill HS is not a viable option to receive more students in this open enrollment scenario.
Rising Ninth Grade Class(es)
  1. The following two ideas focus on providing relief to Howard HS, but can apply to Centennial HS as well. They vary slightly, but both options offer the school relief of approximately 25 percent of the student population. This option would end with the opening of New HS #13 in SY 202324.
  2. Either of these options could start in SY 2019-2020 with the rising ninth grade class (those students completing eighth grade in SY 2018-2019). Reassignment of the rising ninth grade class provides immediate relief, is not voluntary, uses existing capacity and incurs no capital costs.
  3. There is a temporary reassignment of rising ninth graders and permanent reassignment of rising ninth graders.
Ninth Grader Academy
  1. The model’s key features include clustering of instructional staff into a 9th grade team, provision of additional mental health supports, and, physically separating the 9th grade student cohort to facilitate feelings of a supportive 9th grade community.
  2. In order to facilitate a ninth grade academy, a new capital project is required. The capital project involves use of the Faulkner Ridge building.   The estimated project capital cost is $34 million, with annual operating costs estimates for transportation and maintenance about $600,000 and $235,000.

 

There is another post on HCPSS website:

https://news.hcpss.org/news-posts/2018/08/board-seeks-public-input-on-options-to-relieve-high-school-overcrowding/

 

 

 

Chao Wu’s reply to Howard County Education Association

Dr. Chao Wu’s Reply to HCEA

August 2018

Howard County Education Association (HCEA) asked each BOE candidate to send them a letter focusing on past advocacy, top three issues and campaign plan for the endorsement. Here is my answer. I cut it under 200 words at the end.

I strongly urge HCEA to endorse my campaign based on my past advocacy, education priorities and campaign plan.

Past Advocacy

I have been a strong advocate within HCPSS long before running for the school board. I served on the BOE Operating Budget Review Committee (OBRC) in 2016. I have testified on multiple issues including the school calendar, later school starting times, school redistricting, bus transportation, and high school curricular setup since 2015. I have been an active participant in the CAC and in my local PTA meetings. I also testified on tightening APFO in front of the county council since I believe APFO will affect our education system significantly. In addition, I have been elected twice as a Board Member of Columbia Association (annual budget $80 millions) and River Hill Village Association since 2015.

Top Three Issues

I was educated in three different education systems, China, Singapore and USA. I believe my unique education experience and my identity as a first-generation immigrant allows me to have a new perspective on education and allows me to hear the voices of those previously unheard. I highly prioritize giving a voice to those who don’t have a voice and representing those who have previously been unrepresented.

I also prioritize creating a Board of Education that isn’t entangled in toxic party politics. I believe each board member should approach education in a nonpartisan manner and I’m here to offer an independent voice.

Finally, I prioritize recognizing that student performance is a collaborative effort between a student, a student’s family, and the school system. A student cannot perform at their best and achieve their highest potential without all three putting in their utmost effort to support the student.

Campaign Plan

My solid 4th place finish in the primary campaign speaks volumes about my well-funded and well-staffed campaign team. I have received widespread support from the community and my team continues to grow each day. It is well known that we were able to fill all 4 early voting stations with volunteers at every hour and a good number of polling places on the primary Election Day as well. I am confident that in November, I will win a seat on the board. It would be great if I could also win the support of the HCEA.

CA sister city signing ceremony on September 10

Columbia to Sign Sister Cities Agreement with Liyang, China on September 10
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The Sister Cities program “promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, one individual, one community at a time.” — Sister Cities International

Columbia Association will sign a Sister Cities Agreement with the Chinese city of Liyang, People’s Republic of China, on Monday, September 10 at Historic Oakland, 5430 Vantage Point Road, in Columbia. The Mayor of Liyang, Huaqin Xu, will be visiting Columbia with a delegation and will sign the agreement with CA President & CEO, Milton Matthews.

The search for a Chinese sister city began four years ago when members of the approximately 8,000-member, Chinese-American community in Howard County came to CA asking to partner with a sister city in China. They discussed eight Chinese cities as possibilities and decided on Liyang, which was seeking a sister city on the East Coast of the U.S. and is located in Jiangsu Province, a leader in education, tourism, technology and finance. Columbia and Liyang also share common concerns, such as high standards for education and preservation of green spaces. Located in southern China, 150 miles west of Shanghai, it is considered a small city by Chinese standards, with a population of 889,000. It joins cities in France, Spain, Ghana and Haiti as Columbia’s fifth sister city.

The relationship between Columbia and Liyang will allow residents to meet and explore each others’ cities for the mutual benefit and understanding of both. The Columbia/Liyang sister-city program will foster global engagement and peer-to-peer exchanges at every level — cultural, educational and municipal — resulting in travel abroad programs for youth and adults, artistic  and cultural exchanges, economic development and tourism promotion.

If you are interested in attending the signing ceremony with the Mayor of Liyang, Huaqin Xu, and his delegation, please contact Laura Smit at 410-715-3162 or email Laura.Smit@columbiaassociation.org.

To learn more about Liyang — what it looks like and what it has to offer the residents of Columbia, click here.

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Only 100 Days Ahead

I received several campaign emails which remind me the general election will take place in 100 days. I am running for Howard County Board of Education and definitely understand the election is approaching us very soon. I have received around 10 candidate forum invitations already.

This 100-day stimulus slogan reminded me about my high school time. We had to take the College Entrance Exam to enter college. So our teachers and schools wanted to keep us motivated to get a good grade and enter college.

The following two pictures depict what happened in those tough period:

  1. Caption: There are only 100 days left before the College Entrance Exam.
  2. Caption: There are only 100 days till the college entrance exam. Let’s strive to do our best.

After I entered the college, I found I need study even harder because all of college classmates still worked very hard. And I had so much to learn in order to grow myself.

Time flied quickly. I graduated from college long time ago and life keeps moving on. Life is a process of constantly learning new stuff and growing myself.

So my friends and my readers, will you join my campaign to explore some excitements of your life? Contact chaowu2016@gmail.com. A Vote for Wu is a Vote for you.

Superintendent Struggle Part 2

What is happening with our superintendents recently?

  1. Howard County Superintendent Renee Foose resigned with 1.6 million dollars’ package in 2017.
  2. Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance first resigned without any early notice and now was jailed for greed, bribery and lie in 2018.
  3. P.G. County Superintendent Kevin Maxwell retired with 800,000 package in 2018. Under his leadership, PG county systematically inflated student grades to meet graduation requirements.
  4. Montgomery County could not find a superintendent for a long time since 2015.

These four school systems are very large. The superintendent struggle probably tells us something unique to our school system. The Council of Great City Schools, which researches tenure, salaries and characteristics of school superintendents, found in a 2014 report that 3.2 years was the average tenure among superintendents in cities with populations of more than 250,000. Ref: http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2017/04/18/baltimore-county-schools-superintendent-dallas.html

In order to prevent the superintendent position as a cash cow in the future, we need give the school board the authority to fire the superintendent. In my opinion, the firing needs a super majority, not a simple majority.  We need push our state legislatures to update our law.

 

2018 Transportation Overview of Columbia (The Villager 2018-08)

2018 Transportation Overview of Columbia

This article will be published on the August 2018 Issue of The Village of River Hill Village Association.

There has been a substantial effort to create a transportation network in Columbia to help our residents move around. In this Council Corner, I am outlining some efforts and policies which are shaping the implementation and discussion of our transportation status and outlook.

Stakeholders and Process

The County Executive (CE) takes charge of transportation implementation. Under CE’s leadership, with the help from the County Council, there are two county departments working on transportation matters: 1) Office of Transportation has the lead in planning, oversight, and bicycle, pedestrian, and transportation demand management; 2) Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Engineering handles capital projects and the Bureau of Highways focuses on traffic engineering and highway maintenance.

There are a variety advisory and advocacy groups which help formulate transportation policy and implementation: Bicycle Advisory Group, Transit & Pedestrian Advisory Group and Multimodal Transportation board, RTA Commission and Riders Advisory Council. Stakeholder groups include Bicycle Advocates of Howard County, Association of Community Services, Transportation Advocates of Howard County, as well as resident focused groups such as the village community associations.

PlanHoward 2030 (Council Bill 26-2012)

Transportation policy is guided by PlanHoward 2030. This document (Council Bill 26-2012) was passed in 2012 by the County Council as the general plan for Howard County for land use and land conservation and multiyear development planning for transportation, public facilities, water, sewerage, parkland, housing, human services and environmental protection; and generally relating to planning, zoning and land use. Specifically, the following three policies focus on transportation:

  1. POLICY 7.3 – Prioritize and pursue cost-effective, long-term capacity improvements to the road and highway network to support future growth in accordance with place type designations.
  2. POLICY 7.4 – Enhance the accessibility and quality of existing and future transit services.
  3. POLICY 7.6 – Reduce highway congestion, energy consumption, and greenhouse gases by increasing the number of residents using alternate modes of transportation

These policies provide the guidance for transportation decisions. The county government implements many projects with the help from the advisory groups. The state and federal government are also involved if the road is a state or federal road. I recommend everyone take some time to read PlanHoward 2030. This document will provide insight on why certain projects move forward separately from the changes made by developers.

Columbia Wide Effort

In Columbia, the focus is on four transportation modes: roads, transit, bicycle and pedestrian. There will be two main nodes: downtown Columbia and Gateway.

Howard County’s transportation planning unavoidably should think about the future: aging population, more population, self-parking cars, and autonomous and semi-autonomous cars. One recent exciting development is the concept of self-parking cars. They have already come to Columbia. A local company, STEER, is working with Merriweather District and Howard Hughes Corporation. A driver can exit a car at a destination and the car parks itself in a designated parking lot.

The county has a bus rapid transit plan to connect Route 29 in Howard County (six stops) from Route 40, to Montgomery County (2 stations). Route 29 has seen more traffic over the years and many of our county residents use it for daily commutes. The County government hopes the implementation of bus rapid transit will mitigate the traffic congestion problems on Route 29. In my own opinion a dedicated direct lane on Route 29 during rush hour will help mitigate the traffic problems too.

BikeHoward outlines the County’s vision to become a bicycle-friendly place where residents and visitors can bike as a means of daily transportation and healthy recreation. Right now, there is a 3-year implementation plan and the County is investing $8 million over 3 years and will provide a 48-mile connected network. This investment includes 14 miles of bike lanes, 20 miles of shared use pathway, and 14 miles of shared roadway improvements. There is a bike rental program called Howard County Bikeshare. You can join the program and rent bikes at several designated locations using a smart phone app.

There has been strong commitment from the county government and Columbia Association to provide a connected pedestrian network that safely and conveniently accommodates people of all ages and abilities. Recently Columbia Association established a trail steward program on our pathways in high-traffic areas. The stewards will educate and engage with pedestrians and encourage more people to use our pathways. With more people using the pathways, we hope to create a positive experience so that more people feel safer to use our pathways.

I believe these transportation improvements will create a better quality of life for the county’s residents.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council and Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: superbwu@gmail.com Website: http://www.chaowu.org

Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.

The above photo is the Bike Share Program in front of the County Government.