For the past month or so the Columbia downtown has been jumping. The arts festival, the extraordinarily revived City Fair, Clyde's Thursdays, Mr. B's movies, bluegrass music, the fireworks! Hundreds of thousands of souls roaming around having fun, day after day.
But then he shows his true intent:
And all this vibrancy without a single dwelling unit having been added to Town Center. I believe this experience shows that a vital, exciting downtown can be achieved with events and destinations mixed in with a moderate residential expansion. If you give people reasons to come downtown, they will.
I think it is shameful to use the celebration downtown to further a political agenda. Beyond the politicizing of the downtown festivities, there are other problems with Lloyd’s letter. His assertion that “hundreds of thousands of souls roaming around having fun, day after day,” is wildly inaccurate. Just last week, Cynthia Coyle, a CA Board member, stated that the attendance over the city fair weekend was on the order of 50,000 – 60,000 people. Moreover the group-think eschewed by Lloyd and fellow CoFoCoDo member Alan Klein (scroll down) that the festivals are evident of a vibrant (vital, exciting) downtown is false. The Festival of the Arts and the City Fair were products of hundreds of thousands of dollars donated and hundreds of hours put in by scores of volunteers. Without that infrastructure, the “vibrancy” would melt away into the July humidity.
Another Celebration Marred
Just a few inches away from Lloyd’s letter, fellow CoFoCoDo member Rebecca Johnson weighed in on the Longfellow 4th of July parade:
Once again this year I attended the Longfellow Fourth of July parade, now in its 37th year. The charm and joy of a true neighborhood parade were everywhere. Families -- on bikes, pulling wagons, walking dogs decked out in red, white and blue -- all paraded by as I watched from the curbside.
After the setup, Rebecca lets loose:
The parade is well known for its tradition of addressing local community issues, and this year was no exception. All along the route, dozens of neighbors lifted homemade signs to County Executive Ken Ulman as he rode by. The signs carried statements such as "150 feet - YES! Tower - NO!," "We're with you, Ken!" and "Go Ken Go -- Block the Tower!" Neighborhood residents clearly wanted to take this opportunity to remind Mr. Ulman of his pre-election promise to enact height limits in Columbia and block (his words) the proposed high-rise Plaza Residences.
What these letters have in common is the use of an event intended to bring the community together by CoFoCoDo members to further their agenda. Thousands visited downtown Columbia to share in what is great about this community. Days later, we all celebrated what is great about this country. Apparently Lloyd and Rebecca chose not to join us.