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CA Rep’s Corner: January 2015

Dear Harper’s Choice Residents,

Welcome to 2015! I hope this year is a wonderful one for you and for our community. This month I have two questions and some news for you:

Question: What about Splashdown?

Last night, the CA Board held a work session about our indoor aquatics. A major question on the table is what to do about the Splashdown facility at the Swim Center in Wilde Lake.

We are told that, as is, the slides won’t last more than two years. We are also told that attendance has been declining and the number of birthday parties held there has declined, as well.

Staff is recommending that we go ahead and pursue renovations and upkeep to the Swim Center, but allow the Splashdown to “die” in the next 1-3 years. The idea would be to investigate inflatable “family-friendly” amenities that could be used in the Swim Center.

One alternative is to spend a couple of million dollars during that same period to fix the slides enough to extend their usable life to 15 years or so. Another alternative is to spend $4-5 million dollars to completely replace the Splashdown.

What do you think? Is Splashdown important to you and/or to the community? Has it outlived its usefulness?

Please let me know your thoughts at

Question: Are You a CA Member?

Besides the annual charge (aka “the lien”) that we all pay, do you pay to use the gyms…the pools…the golf courses…or other CA facilities? Are you a member of CA?

If you answered the last question “yes”, you may be surprised to know you are mistaken! In actuality, though you may be a member of our sports and fitness services, the only people in Columbia who are actual “members” of CA are the ten Columbia Council Representatives, such as myself. So, though we often say that the Columbia Association is the largest homeowners’ association in Maryland, we are actually, in terms of membership, one of the smallest.

It does not have to be that way. Even our close cousin, the Reston Association, has classes of membership for both owners as well as renters. They don’t all vote on every issue, but they do have a voice in major ones.

Interested? Do you think this is a good idea? A bad idea? Worth exploring? Please let me know your thoughts at

The News

Projects: The Haven on the Lake wellness spa opened in December and enrollments, while lagging behind projections, are slowly rising. The Hobbits Glen clubhouse/restaurant building is on track for a spring opening.

CA Headquarters: Also, as you have probably already heard, CA has decided to move our headquarters this year. While the decision to move out of Town Center was a difficult one, in the end it made most sense from a financial point of view. The workspace for our staff and residents will be much improved and, as a steward of your money, I couldn’t justify spending the extra millions of dollars it would have taken to stay downtown. In addition, from a fairness point of view, the new HQ is the same average distance from each of the Village Centers as the current one is. It’s just that some residents, such as ourselves, will have to travel a bit farther to get there, while others, such as those on the east side of Columbia, will travel less far.

Ethics Accusations: If you missed the article in the Flier (, I have been accused of violating CA’s Ethics Policy, in part due to my November message to you, in which I informed you of a legal opinion that has me concerned. It concluded that the perpetual easement agreement between CA and the Inner Arbor corporation, giving the IA control over Symphony Woods violates the terms of the 1966 Deed which is the basis for Columbia and the Columbia Association.

The article gives a pretty fair summary of the charges and my response to them. This is what I wrote to our Village Board after the article was published:

Looks like Luke either found out (or just assumed) that it was a CA Board member who brought the complaint. Don’t know which it is. The article looks pretty accurate to me, except that people don’t “subscribe” to the Coalition for Columbia’s Downtown. They indicate their support for the values, principles, and positions for which the organization stands. Also, Murphy’s legal opinion does not say that the Inner Arbor Corporation Easement violates CA law. CA doesn’t have ‘laws’. It violates State law (or maybe it is County law) which enforces the original Deed. I have since been told that “violating the law” may not be the correct legal definition of what happens when one legal document is inconsistent with another, more foundational, legal document. That was my error in possibly using the wrong term.

While the Chair of the CA Board has made a ruling on the accusations (which I can easily live with) other members of the CA Board have asked for a full Board hearing on this. A date has not been set, but if you want to come by the CA HQ this Thursday (January 22) to speak out with whatever thoughts you have on this matter, we will welcome residents at 7:00pm in the CA boardroom above Clyde’s on the Lakefront.

All of the documents pertaining to this will be at as soon as I can upload them. If they are not there today, please check back on Monday.

As always, it is my pleasure to represent you on the Columbia Association Board of Directors as your Columbia Council Representative.

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