Enhance Columbia’s Community Centers(The Villager 2018-05)

Enhance Columbia’s Community Centers

This article will be published on The Villager of River Hill Village Association, May 2018 issue.

During the Columbia Association (CA) Board work session on Thursday, April 12, 2018, many community members came to testify on the importance of Columbia’s neighborhood centers in their daily lives.

The discussion on neighborhood centers has been in the pipeline for the Board’s agenda for a while, although the roll-out was a little rough. CA can definitely improve communications. Last year, the Board identified strategic initiatives for the President/CEO for Fiscal Year 2018 and asked staff to review the 14 neighborhood centers. They were asked to use 14 criteria, which included the cost and benefits of maintaining the buildings. Recommendations for each center were required, including The Meeting Room in River Hill which is adjacent to the outdoor pool. The results of this analysis were presented on April 12.

For the past several years, CA has been assessing its facilities and this neighborhood center study and staff recommendations will be used by the CA Board to help make decisions. These assessments are focused on costs for repair, upgrades, and maintenance. However, costs are not the sole consideration, community usage rates and significance to the community are important factors too. CA staff will work with each individual village to get more information on the usage of each neighborhood center and its contribution to the community. During the public testimony, when I heard that one co-op nursery school in Columbia only charges $220 dollars monthly for a 4-year old, I immediately felt the school serves the community well since I also feel daycare is expensive. I truly appreciate the services they provide.

Consolidations and renovations to the existing neighborhood centers may be needed. For example, the American Disability Act (ADA) automatically kicks in when CA has to renovate/fix some community centers. This adds to the cost of a seemingly simple improvement. In some cases, the current footprint of the building is a little small to be a viable neighborhood center. CA may need to find new ways to address renovation or maintenance issues under these types of scenarios.

I believe CA should enhance, even build new neighborhood centers, and provide valuable services to our residents. Each village’s success is part of CA’s success.

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