CA Board Work Session Meeting Summary 2017-10-12

Resident Speakout:

  1. Bill Santos, Wilde Lake, CA Aquatics Advisory Committee, talked about 2012 aquatic study, recommended a new pool.
  2. Tim Lattimer., Long Reach, urged the board to sign Paris Climate pledge, to create a CA climate advisory committee.
  3. Cliff Wright, Hickory Ridge, talked about the Paris Climate Accord.
  4. Richard Duitschmann, Owen Brown, urged to sign “We are still in” declaration.
  5. Dalia Shlash, River Hill, requested funding for tot lot upgrade starting from 2019.
  6. Larry Liebesman urged to sign “We are still in” declaration.
  7. Earl Sneeringer urged to build or use a Pickle ball facility with 6 or 8 courts, converting Owen Brown Bubble, or build one CA Sports Park.
  8. Joel Hurewitz, urged to sign the Paris Accord.
  9. Catherine Heilveil, graduate from River Hill, urged to sign “We are still in” the Paris Agreement.
  10. Pat Hedrsdy, Steven Forest, talked about “We are still in” pledge.


Energy Management Program Overview,

  1. launched 2012, to reduce energy usage, energy costs and environmental impact.  1 degree room temperature increase will need 2-3% extra energy cost. Right now Columbia Gym is set at 68 degrees (Recommend 68-72 degrees by industry standard).
  2. Energy cost snapshot: Supreme (15321 MMBtu) 23%, Swim Center (10155 MMBtu) 15%, Athletic Club (7787 MMBtu)11%, Columbia Gym (7241 MMBtu) 11%, Ice Rink (5045 MMBtu) 7%, all others 33%.
  3. Renewable Energy.
    1. Nixon Solar Farm generates 2500 MWh of electricity or 25% of our power
    2. Wind RECs purchased for remaining 75% of power
    3. Existing on-site generation at River Hill and Amherst House.
  4. Installing Electric Charge Station, 15K per installation , began to charge users at 0.20 per kW. Used to be free to users. BGE helped to reduce the overall program cost.
  5. 10-12 KW generated  by the solar array at the River Hill Swimming Pool. The energy can power one average household .

2019-2020 Budget Discussion (over 1 million dollar projects):

Category 1:

Columbia Swim Center Phase III renovation: 1.2 million dollars

Category II:

Athletic Club Renovation:  It was estimated that we need 24 million dollars to replace Athletic Club, without considering parking lots. We spent 2 million dollars, plan to spent another 5 million dollars for renovation in 2018-2019.  I was thinking that 50-year old building should be scraped from the ground and rebuilt.  There is a time we should cut loss and build something new.

Supreme Sports Club Renovation: 4.7 million dollars.

Haven on the Lake: 1.0 million dollars

Lake Kittamaqundi Planning and Dredging: 1.09 million dollars

Columbia Wide Pathway Renovation: 1 million dollars

Headquarter Building -Reserve for Deposit: 1.1 million dollars

The board was not able to finish discussing all the budget tonight, will continue the discussion next Thursday.

The board discussed the Dashboard metric briefly.






A Bridge to the Future (The Villager 2017-10)

A Bridge to the Future

This article was published in The Villager of River Hill Community Association, October 2017 Issue.

After the first village, Wilde Lake, was built 50 years ago, Columbia has become a very large city with more than 100,000 people, 2000 business and a very vibrant community. The Howard County Citizens Association (HCCA) made a documentary film about the last 50 years and challenged the community to think about how Columbia can continue to be built for a bright future.

To ensure a bright future of Columbia for the next 50 years, we need a planned and visionary development in both education and housing aspects.

First, our educational system must adapt to the changes we anticipate. With fast advancement in automation and artificial intelligence, future life and work will be quite different from today’s. Manual labor and tedious work will be replaced by the computer and robotics. Computer literacy will be a must for many future workers. So, our education system will need to adapt to educate the workforce of the future. We need to ensure our school system is guided by student-focused principles:

  1. motivate all students to achieve their full and diverse potential
  2. expanding learning opportunities to all students by utilizing all available resources

Second, all housing and commercial developments should provide the infrastructure needed to support the uses, especially the need for schools. This can partially be regulated by tightening the Adequate Public Ordinance (APFO) which is currently being debated by the County Council. I testified on behalf of myself at the County Council and made the following points:

Three loopholes should be removed:

  1. Include the high schools in the capacity test. I am not sure why high schools were not included in the test more than 10 years ago.
  2. Remove the waiting time for development. Now, when a development does not pass a capacity test, it will automatically pass after waiting for four years (in reality, three years) without a second test
    . This practice should be abolished.
  3. Include the Medium and Low Income Housing (MLIH) units in the development unit cap. For each new development, it is required that 15% of the units be MLIH. However, this 15% (i.e., around 300 units) is not presently counted in the annual cap of 2000 new residential units.

Two Numbers should be revised:

  1. The school capacity limit should be set at 100%, not 115%.
  2. The developer fee should be raised substantially. For comparable housing units, the developers in Howard County are paying less than 10% of the development fee in Montgomery County. Housing prices in Howard County are not cheaper than those in Montgomery County to justify this huge fee difference.

I support development since only continuous economic, housing and social development and improvement will solve many problems we face today. However, the development should be planned with a long -term vision. Unregulated development will lead to chaos. Tightening APFO now will give our legislators a rare opportunity to address the problems created over the last 15 years.

Some neighborhood news:

County Executive Allan Kittleman proposed a new site for the High School 13 on Landing Road in Elkridge and asked the Howard County Public School System to delay high school redistricting until this high school is built in 2022. Previously the proposed location for High School 13 was on Mission Road in Jessup.

The school redistricting process has created many heated debates, anxiety, and expectations in the county. I encourage everyone to be civil and respect others’ opinions during this difficult time. The superintendent, Dr. Martirano, will provide his final redistricting recommendation to the Board of Education on Oct. 3.

Columbia Association (CA) is developing the FY19 and FY 20 budgets. The CA Board has heard from residents and villages about their funding needs. We will continue work on our budget until early next year.

CA Board Members also looked at the Lakefront Core Design Guidelines during the September board work session and will provide feedback to the Department of Zoning and Planning on the development.

The River Hill Village Board is working with CA and residents to upgrade two existing tot lots to meet residents’ needs. The Village Board will solicit resident feedback on upgrades.

Thanks for reading. I am looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

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

Email: Website:

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 picture was taken on 10/1/2017 morning at the Centennial Lake while I joined the Centennial Runner Group for Breast Cancer Awareness fund raising event.


CA board working meeting summary 2017-9-14

Resident speakout:

Several people talked about concerns related Lakefront Core Neighborhood Design. Joel Hurewitz proposed to put a library in front of the Lakefront. I really love this idea.

Budget inputs:

  1. Town Center Community Association proposed to build a playground in the Symphony Wood. CA has never provided any play areas for the Warfield neighborhood, which within a year will be adding an additional 650 units to the already existing 795 units at the Metropolitan. The Downtown Plan does not provide land for a playground except for the Promenade in front of the Metropolitan. The Town Center Community Association also requests that CA work with the Inner Arbor Trust to expedite the completion of a pathway to make Merriweather park at Symphony Woods accessible and user friendly asap. Further, tomorrow ( 9/16) 11:00-3:00PM, Wilde Lake Old-Fashioned Family Pinic welcomes you.
  2. Wilde Lake Community Association has a list of projects needing CA support.
  3. Oakland Mills Community Association also submitted their budget request. They wish the proposed neighborhood sign across CA will finish in 3 years, not in 10 years. I totally agree with them.
  4. Columbia Housing Center is requesting 200,000 for two years (total 400k. Their proposed annual budget is 600k) to promote integrated racial families move to Columbia. This is following 40 year Oak Park Regional Housing Center model outside of Chicago. They are actively looking for funding.

Board Discussion

The board discussed concerns with the Lakefront Core Neighborhood Design.





What Columbia is all about (by Dick Boulton)

What Columbia is all about

by Dick Boulton, Columbia Association Board Member , from Village of Dorsey’s Search

When you are in Columbia, you know you are in Columbia.

There is a cohesiveness, a sense of place. Columbia does not look or feel like a typical suburb where multitudes of developers have strived to maximize ROI on their own little pieces of turf. It does not look like Route 40 where every property jarringly competes for individual attention. Instead, synergy prevails.

Stuff fits together in Columbia. There is a calmness, dignity and continuity to the overall design. Things appear in the places they ought. Residential areas, village centers and the urban core are segmented to complement but not intrude upon one another. Commercial areas are visible but compact and unobtrusive. Major throughways wind through the terrain with attractive landscaping and limited access. Driveways are restricted to secondary roads. Unsightly distractions are set back and screened from view. Utilities are buried underground. There are no billboards. Signage is discrete.

In Columbia, the natural landscape is treated with respect. Open space has been set aside. Wetlands are preserved. There are beautiful lakes and many miles of walking trails and bikeways. There are also playgrounds, swimming pools, tennis courts, playing fields, fitness facilities and other recreational amenities – all designed and situated to meet the lifestyle needs of Columbia residents.

While outparcels occasionally intrude, they are fortunately scattered and only serve to contrast with and prove the appropriateness of the Rouse master plan.

The beauty of the Rouse plan is that it was built around people. Ours was to be a community where people could live, grow and prosper. Commerce was secondary to the concept. Businesses were for providing services and employment opportunities to residents, but residents were the primary concern. Rouse even put making a profit fourth on his list of four key objectives. The Rouse organization has since been divided between outside enterprises that feel varying degrees of stewardship over the original vision. It is for this reason that the County and the Columbia Association must step up and step in to assume responsibility. Rigorous oversight is essential; wise development must be the norm.

Columbia has grown dramatically over the past 50 years, but growth has been largely well-managed. With most of the residential areas built out, focus is now on development of the urban core. This seems to be working out well enough, but care needs to be taken to see that further construction remains within the context of the Columbia vision. This should apply as well to the Gateway area, which is also being eyed for development. Too much of the easternmost section of Columbia demonstrates the effect of lax enforcement of codes and covenants. Snowden River Parkway is a case in point.

Central to Columbia’s urban core is the Symphony Woods/Merriweather Pavilion acreage. The present scheme needs to be reviewed for feasibility and affordability. Rouse had intended this land to become Columbia’s Central Park, and It is critical to the function and vibrancy of our urban core that this expectation be met. We also need to improve public transportation to reduce local traffic congestion and provide high-speed connections to Baltimore and Washington.

Columbia began as a utopian dream, but with inspired leadership, it has been surprisingly successful and is today a model for building other communities that focus on inhabitant wellbeing. Columbia has prospered for over fifty years. It is now our responsibility to make sure it continues to for the next 50.

By Chao Wu: Considering the heated debate (on Industrial Mulching and APFO, school redistricting) on Howard County Council on 9/9/2017, the issue is really that we need a planned development and a long term strategy for our county. Then what is the status of implementing the Plan Howard 2030? We need hold politicians accountable.

Future Lakefront of Columbia Downtown

How do you like it? This is an artistic rendering.

Future lakefront

It looks quite different from what I wrote several months ago and I have the feeling that all the open spaces are pushed into the Lake Kittamaqundi). CA board will have another update later this year on this topic. I am looking forward to hearing your feedback.

2017 October China Trip to Liyang City by Columbia China Sister City Delegation

In the past two weeks, two people asked me the progress of the Columbia China Sister City’s program. It is going pretty well.

Our Columbia China Sister City Delegation will begin their 2-week China Trip (Beijing, Xi’an, Nanjing, Liyang, Suzhou, Wuzhen, Hangzhou, Shanghai)  in October. This delegate consists of state legislators, Columbia Association Board Members and staff, reporters and our residents. I really appreciate their interest in this trip. The trip is paid by each individual member.

From the idea of starting the “Columbia’s China Sister City” to this incoming trip, I really appreciate so many people’s contribution to make it happen: the China Sister Planning Committee Chair Ms. Jun Han and vice chair Mr. Hui Dong and other committee members, Columbia Association’s International MultiCulture Advisory Committee chair Laura Smit and other committee members,  Mr. Len Lazarick ( from who got some many high profile people into the trip.

For some personal reason, I may not join the trip unfortunately and I wish them the best of the trip. If situations change, I may jump into the airplane and meet them in Liyang, Jiangsu, China.