Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Never been there, but the brochure looks nice...

Get a load of this letter to the editor in the Baltimore Sun:

I find it curious that in The Sun's editorial concerning Columbia ("A new town center?" May 1) and in recent articles about the plans for the so-called town center ("Town aims to redraw its core," April 28), little mention was made of the plight of hundreds of young and old area residents who have made the Mall in Columbia their source for art, culture and socialization and of how absurd this is in a community that prides itself on its excellent resources.

With all due respect to James W. Rouse and his magnificent vision, Columbia is, and likely will always be, little more than a mall surrounded by suburban housing.

As is typical in such an environment, the mall has become the de facto center of area life.

Columbia and the region would be better served if Howard County and the state invested in comprehensive transportation plans that afforded area residents frequent and constant access to real urban centers in Baltimore and perhaps Washington.

It is especially important that young people get out of the mall and experience the larger world that awaits them.

Likewise, it is critical for residents in the urban core to have better access to all the service jobs that have moved to Columbia and other suburbs.

I have my own thoughts about this (and I am curious to know if this person has ever set foot in Columbia other than the mall), but I am wondering what other people think. So if you can pull yourself away from the "de facto center of area life" that is the mall long enough to leave a response, please do so.


Anonymous said...

He doesn't claim to be from Columbia - openly says "Baltimore". Guess he's not impressed.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it say something that the only thing to Columbia, in the eyes of someone not living here, is the mall?

If so, it speaks volumes about the "vibrancy" or lack thereof, of Columbia in its current state.

Anonymous said...

Don't confuse 'vibrancy' with congested conditions. People flock to the mall because they don't want to walk around the lakes, eat on the lakefront, and the culturally rich locations are too well hidden.

You can build "vibrancy" but what you'll get is a whole lot of traffic from people who have no desire to be outside.

Eludius said...

Comprehensive mass transportation is a euphamism for moving poor people into wealthier areas. If I want to go to Baltimore or Columbia, I get in my car and go there. There's a reason that the MTA is called the Mugger Mover and the Fright Rail.

Anonymous said...

Not wanting to be outside is one thing, but where are the "culturally rich locations"?

Hidden indeed, if lifelong residents are at a loss to find them.

Anonymous said...

Not only does the transport infect areas that were relatively safe prior, but it's not safe to ride.

That is the primary reason I won't even consider using public transport - and the situation is getting worse instead of better because the local governments persistently tolerate criminal behavior.

holly jean said...

Perhaps it's because I've just stepped off the plane from Europe, but I am shocked about the attitudes towards mass transit here.

Mass transit doesn't have to be dirty and unsafe. In Europe, nearly everyone uses clean, quiet, comfortable electric trams and rail systems to get where they need to go. They are super-modern, efficient, and safe-- much easier, cheaper, and safer than driving. There's no reason why the same couldn't be done here.

It's inconceivable to me that there are no rail links between Columbia and Baltimore/DC, in a metropolis like this. People need real alternatives to spending time in increasingly tedious traffic, emitting CO2, and spending money on increasingly expensive fuel.

Anonymous said...

Why is US mass transit so unsafe compared to European?