Here is my testimony from the Columbia Association Board Meeting last night.
I'm here tonight because on May 28, 2014 I stood in this very spot and said, "I have attended multiple CA Board meetings to speak in support of this park. I will keep coming back as often as necessary, and I am not alone."
And so I must begin with these words. I'm back.
I'm back because I support the Inner Arbor Plan for Symphony Woods. I support it, my family supports it, my friends support it, and the majority of Columbia supports it. We can't wait to see it get started.
But I can't let this moment pass by without sharing two more words: Thank You.
I'm here to thank a small but largely overlooked group without whom we would not have the Inner Arbor Plan. That's right: I want to thank the people who objected to the first plan.
Now, I'll admit that when Mr. Paumier's plan was released I was not a fan. It was not the park I had been hoping for. But I knew that Symphony Woods had been sadly neglected, and that the space was tragically underutilized. And I wanted to be on the same team as the people who were trying to move Columbia forward. And so I winced a little, and I gritted my teeth, and I supported it.
But not these people. No, they had clear expectations and high standards and there was no compromising.
I'm sure that these individuals are far too modest for me to mention them by name tonight--but I could. Because their objections are on the public record: at Village Board Meetings, CA Board Meetings, testimony before the Planning Board, and even letters to the newspaper.
And it is because of these people that CA reached out to Michael McCall, to create a better park. Make no mistake, without their protest we would not have the Inner Arbor plan which is superior to the original plan in every way. It saves more trees, it preserves and enhances the natural environment, it combines nature and the arts, it works collaboratively with Merriweather.
And the CA Board voted to support this plan, because they, too, wanted a better park. And they voted to create the Inner Arbor Trust, to move the plan forward.
So, to those of you who refused to settle, I say: thank you. Whatever you may have done in your lives here up to this point, it's safe to say that your lasting legacy to Columbia will be this wonderful park, and we can't wait to see it get started.