Saturday, December 18, 2010

More Muck For CA

First the IT work bogged down, now this. The company CA hired to dredge Lake Elkhorn is now suing us for $1 million in a dispute over how much work has been done, ExploreHoward reports.

According to the suit, the homeowners' association failed to properly do the sediment surveys required before the work began and failed to determine how the mud has shifted during the work. Therefore, the company alleges that the association has no accurate way to measure how much mud has been removed. Further, the suit accused Columbia Association of refusing to discuss the issue or to respond beyond its refusal to pay for some of the work.

...Cynthia Coyle, chairwoman of the association's board, denied that the association has refused to discuss the dispute, saying that "discussion has been going on a regular basis."

The association board in August approved increasing the cost of the Elkhorn project by $1.3 million -- to $6.5 million -- after a consultant told the board that much more sediment than predicted had washed into the lake from heavy storms since an early survey taken in 2006.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Hobbit's Glen Makeover

CA is considering several options to fix up the Hobbit's Glen golf clubhouse, ranging from a basic renovation to a snazzy rebuild. The cost would range too, from $2.6 million to $7.5 million.


The Hobbit's Glen Golf Club clubhouse is more than 40 years old. It is not energy efficient and many of the major building systems (roof, HVAC, plumbing, electric, etc.) need to be replaced. In addition to these necessary renovations, the CA staff has proposed a number of enhancements.
You can find a discussion of proposals in a .pdf  here.

You can tell CA what you think here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hooked on Nooks

From the HoCo library:

On December 1, HCL began lending 60 Nook ebook readers to customers. Howard County Library President and CEO Valerie J. Gross notes, "As part of Howard County Library's educational mission, we are committed to providing both exceptional customer service and cutting-edge educational opportunities to our customers. While we have offered downloadable ebooks and audiobooks for a number of years, Nooks are simply the newest format for customers to experience books."

Howard County Library chose Barnes and Noble's Nook because it offered both local technical support and a local partnership. According to Julie Oakes, Community Relations Manager at Barnes and Noble in Ellicott City, the partnership was a welcome surprise. “When we were approached by Howard County Library, we thought, 'Why couldn't the Nook be for library use?' ” Oakes states that Howard County Library is the first and only library currently lending Nooks.

Library customers are thrilled. All 60 Nooks are currently on loan, and an additional 276 customers are waiting their turn. The Nooks come loaded with 34 titles from both popular book club selections and New York Times bestseller lists, including The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. Additional titles will be continue to be added to the Nooks, which may be loaned to anyone with a Howard County Library card, and follow the same lending rules as other electronic collection materials.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Transparent Education

We're doing a little housekeeping here. We told you a while ago that school board member Alan Dyer had sued over the system's policy for deleting e-mail. Well, his request for a preliminary injunction was denied, according to this Dec. 2 report in ExploreHoward.

 A few days later (Dec. 6) we saw this in the school system e-letter:

School System Rated A+ for Transparency
The HCPSS has earned the highest rating for the openness and accessibility of its public records and other key data, based on a rating of its website by the Sunshine Review, a non-profit organization dedicated to state and local government transparency. The HCPSS earned the highest score of any Maryland school district.

"This rating reflects our ongoing commitment to provide needed information as quickly and easily as possible," noted Patti Caplan, Director of Public Relations for the HCPSS. "We encourage anyone who needs help finding information to contact the Public Information Office, and we’ll do our best to locate it for you."

Full details of the Sunshine Review's assessment can be found here

Scaring Up Some Mini Golf

It's not exactly Columbia, but how can we resist? We saw this on the press release wire...

Atlantic Realty Companies, Inc., one of the largest commercial real estate developers in the Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD region, recently announced that Monster Mini Golf opened in Columbia, MD.

Monster Mini Golf is an indoor monster themed glow in the dark 18-hole miniature golf course that offers a host of family-oriented fun activities. Visitors feel the excitement and adventure of playing mini golf amidst cool monster d├ęcor with custom and animated props.

"It's a great place for the whole family," says Dan Russell, owner of the Monster Mini Golf in Columbia, MD. "Courses are challenging enough for adults to navigate, yet very playable for children. And our whacky in-house DJ entertains adults and children alike."

In addition to miniature golf, Monster Mini Golf has its own family arcade containing many of today’s most thrilling arcade games. At the end of play, game tickets can be redeemed for great prizes.
Monster Mini Golf also has two posh haunted mansion style private party rooms for Birthdays, Fundraisers, Group Field Trips, and Corporate events.

"We are thrilled to have the first Monster Mini Golf in the Washington metropolitan area," says David A. Ross, Partner, Atlantic Realty Companies, Inc., owner of the property. "We expect families from Virginia and DC as well as Maryland because it is so unique and is extremely accessible just off of I-95."

Broker for the Atlantic Realty Companies was Craig Cheney at KLNBretail Commercial Real Estate Services; Monster Mini Golf broker was Jeff Hoffman with CapStar Commercial Realty.

Atlantic Realty completed an eight million dollar renovation on the center last year, which was originally built in the 1980's. Monster Mini Golf joins Ollie's, My Organic Market, Starbucks, Maaco, Jerry's Subs & Pizza, Kids First Swim Schools, Panda Express and more. Columbia East Marketplace is located at the intersection of Rts. 1 and 175 in Columbia, MD, one-half mile from I-95.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Minority Majority

From the public schools newsletter:

The HCPSS hit a milestone this fall when for the first time the percentage of white students fell below 50 percent, meaning that the combined minority population is now in the majority. At 48.6 percent, white students still outnumber other racial/ethnic groups, but enrollment in other groups, such as Asian and Hispanic, have increased dramatically in the past decade. The percentage of Asian students has increased from 9.9 percent to 16.0 percent and Hispanic enrollment has increased from 2.0 percent to 8.3 percent since 2000.

This year, due to new federal regulations for collecting racial and ethnic data of students, the school system has information on the number of multiracial students. Students of two or more races make up 6.2 percent of the HCPSS enrollment. African American students make up 20.0 percent of the student population, while other groups, such American Indian/Alaskan and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, are well under one percent.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cultural commentary

Have any thoughts on the Columbia cultural scene? Some folks want to hear from you. Read on...

Dear Oakland Mills Community,

In September 2010, an Advisory Committee was established to develop a Cultural Master Plan for Downtown Columbia. The Committee is currently looking to hear from our Howard County residents to gain insight into Columbia’s current cultural scene and gather ideas to be included in the Cultural Master Plan for Downtown Columbia. To this end, a survey has been developed and it has been requested that our residents complete this by Friday, December 10th. To access this survey, visit . Also, please feel free to share this information with our neighbors in the hopes to reach as many residents as possible.

Thank you in advance for helping spread the word so that we may create a Downtown Columbia that is reflective of our community desires.

All the best,

Dr. Calvin Ball

Council Member, District 2