The following is my testimony at the County Council hearing on the County Executive's Budget for 2016:
I am here in support of the allocation of 1.395 million dollars in the County Executive's Budget for Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods. This park is an integral part of an entire network of improvements made possible by the Downtown Plan. As we all look to support a vibrant Columbia in a successful Howard County, we need to get moving now on making the park a reality.
I read a great story in the Sun today. A family in one of the older Columbia Villages--my village, Oakland Mills--loved their neighborhood and school so much that they decided to add on to their house rather than leave to look for a bigger one somewhere else. Not only that, the owner found a way to add a home office--as a tree house. Talk about creative reuse--this is pretty amazing.
We talk a lot about how important it is to attract younger residents and young families to Columbia. But we all know real love isn't just about attraction. It's about commitment. We want Columbia to be the kind of place where people like this young family are so committed that they are willing to engage and give something of themselves in order to stay here.
Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods will be a beautiful, engaging, and inspiring community space that will benefit new residents as well as current ones. It is also an investment we need to make so people will want to invest in us.
I am a music teacher and a lifelong arts supporter. I have to admit I am disappointed that this budget does not include the full 4 million dollars requested by the Inner Arbor Trust. So many important projects in Columbia are moving towards completion and the Park will be a vital component of this successful Downtown. In these efforts, timing and momentum are crucial.
My impassioned plea for greater funding aside, I'm here tonight to urge you to approve the 1.395 million in its entirety so that the park can move forward.