Have you heard the story about the new Sports Complex in Oakland Mills? If you have, it's probably because of a publicity campaign launched on social media in recent weeks. Letters have been targeted to residents in other Columbia villages and throughout the county, drumming up support for this project. Unfortunately, the pitch omits a key piece of information: it is predicated on a desire to displace poor and minority residents and diminish opportunities for affordable housing in Oakland Mills.
Supporters of the proposed Sports Complex are part of a small but vocal group who have for many years claimed that everything wrong with Oakland Mills could be traced to affordable housing. In addition, they have been quite vocal in their complaints that other Columbia villages were not "doing their fare share" in shouldering the burden of affordable housing. Therefore I find it disingenuous to be reaching out to these same villages asking for support while withholding the true intent behind this project: a new sports complex will allow the OM Board to "reclassify" land that is now used for affordable housing, and that housing will have to go...somewhere else. As an Oakland Mills resident I am embarrassed at this attempt to take advantage of the enthusiasm of well-meaning sports parents.
How lovely it would be to build a brand-new, state of the art sports complex in Howard County. How unlovely it would be to displace our neighbors with an eye to raising our own property values.
The Oakland Mills Community Association website proudly proclaims: We Value Connections. Let's focus our efforts on the projects which actually promote connections--Bridge Columbia, the all-Columbia pathway system, and Blandair Park. All three will bring positive benefits to our village as we continue to work on ways to support our Village Center and encourage new residents to move into our community.
The sports complex really comes down to being a story of being against something, then crafting a solution that gets rid of it. Real change comes from being united in support of a positive goal. County Executuve Allan Kittleman has committed himself to the revitalization of Columbia's aging village centers. Do me a favor, with you? Drop him a note. (AKittleman@howardcountymd.gov)
Let him know that you think that there are better solutions than a sports complex with a hidden agenda.