Between the years of my divorce and my eventual remarriage I experienced a number of--shall we say--educational relationships. No matter how much attraction there was or how much we had in common, there came a point where the missing ingredient became starkly apparent. Without this one thing all the rest was for nought. That ingredient?
Willingness. In this case, willingness to believe in, work on, and commit to a long-term relationship. The door has to be open, and you have to be willing to go through it.
I read with some sadness last week Tom Coale's post about Bridge Columbia, "The Orphan Bridge". Readers of this blog know that I am a long -time advocate for the Bridge project and have even spoken publicly in its support. And yet it would be foolish to ignore the fact that not everyone is "in love" with the Bridge the way I am.
Both former County Executive Ken Ulman and current County Executive Alan Kittleman have said encouraging things about Bridge Columbia. Mr. Ulman allocated funds to explore the project, but progress inched forward, sputtered, and stalled. Mr. Kittleman campaigned for election with strong words of support for the Bridge but once elected put forward not one penny to support his words.
The Bridge would radically change how East and West are connected in Columbia. It would make connections where none now exist. It would encourage pedestrian, bike, and public transit for getting around town. I truly believe that it would be a positive change that transforms how people get around and how they look at their community. It's going to change how all the related parts connect and interact.
And yet we can't seem to find leadership in County Government to champion this bridge and take risks to make it happen. I "get" that this is no small task and that the risks are daunting. I know that understanding this bridge is so much bigger than thinking it's a nice touch or an impressive civic symbol. Commitment to this project the way it was conceived involves leadership that is forward-thinking.
Despite research, evidence, plans, community meetings and public support, it still all comes down to willingness. Yup, willingness to believe in and work on a long-term commitment. The door has to be open, and you have to be willing to go through it.
The success of Columbia and Howard County isn't just about what we are doing right now this minute. Effective leadership must look ahead to where we are going. And, believe me, where we are going, we're going to need a bridge. This bridge.
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