07 February 2007

An Evening with Mr. Doug Godine

This evening, the Wilde Lake Village Board held a special public meeting with Mr. Doug Godine of General Growth Properties. Mr. Godine began by stating that he has talked with many people in the community, and that some have stated to him that Columbia is a city, and it works as a city. The city has great schools, and good hospital, lakes, open space, and it works; so why change it. Shifting gears, Mr. Godine stated that people have asked him, “What is your vision?” He remarked that his vision was not the key and Columbia’s vision was what needed to be the focus.

“What will Columbia look like in the future?”

“How can we make this city a much better place in the future?”

Mr. Godine revealed that his staff is working with the Design Collective design produced at the end of the charrette (and incorporated, to some extent, into the Department of Planning and Zoning Draft Master Plan) as the basis for downtown development. He further stated that he saw the Design Collective plan as one designed at 35,000 feet, and his focus has been working at the street (and human) level. He wants downtown to be more livable and pedestrian friendly.

He also stated that he has set up eleven committees within his organization to study certain aspects of downtown Columbia. He did not state all of the committees, but the ones he mentioned included affordable housing, arts and culture (he also recognized Wilde Lake Village Board member Mary Pivar for working with him in concert (pun [mine] intended) on the arts and culture committee, but I digress), open space, transportation and green buildings.

Aspects of each committee highlighted by Mr. Godine include:

Affordable Housing:
  • It appears subsidies must be used to make affordable housing work.
  • Looked at affordable housing in Portland, OR, Spokane, WA, and Montgomery County, MD.
  • GGP wants downtown Columbia to be on the leading edge of making affordable housing work.
  • GGP will most likely be able to determine the percentage of affordable housing that will work in Columbia, but not necessarily the qualifying income levels for the housing.
Arts and Culture:
  • How to incorporate arts and culture into building interiors.
  • How to incorporate arts and culture into walking paths in downtown.
  • Answers may not be readily available, and some may be two years away.
Transportation:
  • Mr. Godine believes the current HATS “green bus” system does not work. He stated that waiting ½ hour for a bus was not acceptable.
  • Mr. Godine stated he was working with Del. Liz Bobo and has contacted Congressman Cummings with regard to extending the DC Metro green line into Columbia.
  • Mr. Godine stated (and this was the second public meeting I had heard this during the week, so I don’t think this is spilling the beans) that the County was going to commission an extensive traffic study in the near future.
Open Space
  • Mr. Godine stated that this committee is looking at creating some parks in downtown, walkways, and emphasizing environmentally sensitive design. This is being achieved through a partnership with Bio Habitat.
  • When asked by a Wilde Lake resident about using local species of trees and plants, Mr. Godine said he was informed that this is something that had not been done well in the past, and he understood there was a need to use many more local plants in future designs.
Green Buildings
  • Mr. Godine stated that green building (LEED) technology has been explored as part of the preliminary planning process and his team was well aware of the LEEDS standards. He also said there have been visits to/with LEED certified buildings and that it will be incorporated, to an extent, in downtown.
With respect to schedule, Mr. Godine said GGP will present a white paper to the County this Spring. He would not define that any further than the April-June time frame. He also believes the County will present its zoning proposal this spring. Mr. Godine was asked if he would allow the public to look at any of the proposal prior to submission to the County. He stated that he would not do that, and that when the proposal is presented to the County, there will be plenty of opportunity for public input at that stage. He also stated that if he allowed the public to look at the proposal before submission to the County, there is little possibility that the proposal would ever get approved. He also emphasized that he, and the architects, engineers, and planners in his company are currently listening to the community and talking with people in the community.

6 comments:

Evan said...

Very interesting and there is a lot of encouraging info here. Thanks Bill for filling us in.

I particularly found the following bits of information interesting and will post on them at www.howardcountyblog.blogspot.com:

* Mr. Godine stated he was working with Del. Liz Bobo and has contacted Congressman Cummings with regard to extending the DC Metro green line into Columbia.

* Mr. Godine stated (and this was the second public meeting I had heard this during the week, so I don’t think this is spilling the beans) that the County was going to commission an extensive traffic study in the near future.

Hayduke said...

Great recap! Thanks.

Steve Fine said...

I agree with Evan and Hayduke.

wordbones said...

Bill,
Nice post.
I am encouraged by the time and thought that GGP is putting into this.
-wb

Anonymous said...

Good post.

"Mr. Godine believes the current HATS “green bus” system does not work. He stated that waiting ½ hour for a bus was not acceptable."

He is right. Until public transit convenience equals or betters cars, we'll continue to see lower transit ridership, reduced routes and schedules, congested roads, longer than necessary commute times, and obscenely excessive continued climate changing and air polluting emissions.

"Mr. Godine stated he was working with Del. Liz Bobo and has contacted Congressman Cummings with regard to extending the DC Metro green line into Columbia."

Please skip Metro altogether. Why would he suggest waiting for a Metro train when he just said waiting for a bus doesn't work?

Instead, just give Columbia the first personal rapid transit line in Maryland. It will be faster, far far more convenient, less expensive to build and operate, quieter, cleaner, enjoy more ridership, avoid decimating green space and dividing neighborhoods, have much less expensive stations spaced closer together to allow walking to them (not needing massive parking lots or garages), save energy, be able to run day and night, etc.

A grid of these personal rapid transit lines could be built and operated for the same cost as one point-to-point extension of Metro, providing pedestrian access to the PRT line for thousands more people than would have pedestrian access to Metro.

"Mr. Godine stated (and this was the second public meeting I had heard this during the week, so I don’t think this is spilling the beans) that the County was going to commission an extensive traffic study in the near future.

Good. All transit choices should be discussed, not just the ones that have failed to solve our congestion and pollution problems.

Eldersburg1976 said...

Great recap.. thanks for the post..