Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I Just Don't Get It

I recently was accepted into a Facebook Group called Clarksville Happenings. As an overall cheerleader of local communities, I thought it would be good to see more than my own backyard. And, of course, I'm always looking for a good story.

It turns out that a good story rose up to hit me in the face a whole lot sooner than I expected. On January 25 th a member shared this letter, reprinted in full. (Sorry so long.)

Dear Lifetime Sports Advocate,

Are you interested in seeing a 50 meter indoor pool, an new ice skating rink and/or a sports center in Howard County? Are you tired of driving yourself and your kids to other counties to allow your family to fully participate in the sports you all love?

Ginny Thomas promised to keep you informed on our vision for Economic Development for Oakland Mills because it presents a major opportunity for participants in lifetime sports. She has been hearing from swimmers, skaters, runners and others who lament the lack of good facilities in Columbia and the county that would allow them to pursue their sport and host tournaments.

A key aspect of the Oakland Mills Village Center Community Plan, which is nearing finalization, is the need to give the Village Center a new focal point that will jumpstart revitalization. As examples of what might work, the plan suggests a state-of-the-art ice rink, 50-meter pool, and a sports medicine/rehab center. The plan does not to select a particular facility but seeks feasibility studies for a county/CA/private partnership to build one or more first-class facilities that will accommodate such neglected lifetime sports as swimming, skating and running.

On January 19th and 20th, the Oakland Mills Village Board met with County Executive Allan Kittleman and the delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to ask their help in exploring the prospects for economic development and obtaining planning and budgetary support.

If you support this effort, you can help by contacting these officials (using the links below) and describing the need for a facility that will allow more people to participate in your sport. If your group is spending money outside the county to practice or compete, it is especially important to mention this. We believe the county is losing tax revenue by failing to build facilities on a par with our neighboring counties—a fact guaranteed to get their attention when budgets are tight.

They are developing their budgets right now, so this is the time to act. Please encourage others to do the same and cc Ginny Thomas ( on the email so she can track how much support there is for this idea.

Ginny ThomasCo-Chair, Oakland Mills Village Board cgthomas 65@verizon.net410-992-7984

Allan Kittleman, County Executive, contact

Howard County Council find your Howard County Councilmember open the district maps for each Councilmember and locate your street.

Columbia Association Board of DirectorsThere are 10 Columbia Association Board members plus the CA President/CEO. Milton Matthews President/CEO, Columbia

Each of the 10 represent one of Columbia’s 10 villages.The link below has the board members names/pictures and village they represent.

You need to send your support email to both Mr. Matthews and to YOUR CA Representative on the CA Council.State Senators and Delegates

Thank you for your support!



I found this extremely odd, as Ginny Thomas is co-chair of my own Oakland Mills Village Board. Why would she be encouraging people to drum up support in other villages when her own village isn't completely on board with this plan? I soon saw why.

Parents of sports involved kids responded quickly, full of enthusiasm. This is wonderful! What a great idea! How can I help? How do we get this moving faster? Everyone, it seemed, was thrilled to support a sports complex. In Oakland Mills. Finally I decided to chime in.

It's exciting to see so much support for a new sports facility. I'm not sure that is as clear as it should be that this plan is predicated upon a desire of the OM Village Board to offload the affordable housing burden onto other villages. I just want you to understand the ramifications of this plan: affordable housing residents will be displaced and this board is looking to other Columbia Villages to pick up the slack.

Having followed this process with interest for the past year, I can confirm that the goal is to get rid of affordable housing. I also know anecdotally that some of these same people feel that other Columbia Villages do not "do their fair share".

Well, gosh. That's not as exciting, is it? Everyone is excited about a new sports complex for their kids until they understand the the whole picture...

I chose as a title "I Just Don't Get It" but that isn't entirely true. Of course I get it. The Oakland Mills Village Board leadership is doing the end run around some very serious concerns and possible opposition in their own village and peddling a pie-in-the-sky scenario in other villages, while leaving out some rather crucial information.

Yeah, I get it. It's dirty pool. It is negating the involvement of Oakland Mills residents and taking advantage of the goodwill of perfectly nice people in other villages. In the long run this kind of "leadership" is bad for Oakland Mills, and extremely bad for how people elsewhere will view Oakland Mills for a long time to come.

So remember, when somebody offers you a deal that's too good to be true, it probably is. Before you get excited, make sure you read the fine print.



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