New Courthouse Alternative: Swap HoCo Bendix Road Site for HCPSS Marriottsville Road Site

The Howard County Executive has submitted a proposal to the Council to construct a new courthouse on the site of the Dorsey Building on Bendix Road. This site is a very poor choice of the location for a civic institution as important as a courthouse. However, the factors that make it a poor location for a courthouse, make it a good location for a middle school.

There are a number of benefits to be achieved by swapping the Bendix Road site owned by Howard County with the Marriottsville Road Land Bank site being held by the HCPSS for a new middle school. The Marriottsville Road could be used to construct the new courthouse. However, because this location is not ideal for a courthouse, the property could be sold to finance the purchase of other properties–perhaps closer to the County Detention Center.

Maryland does not appear to have suggested criteria for selecting a location for a courthouse; however other states and federal agencies do have  elements to be considered in site selection. The Virginia Courthouse Facility Guidelines states:

“A major consideration should be the impact that a move will have on the public and client populations. How accessible is the new location? Is public transportation available? Is there sufficient parking? Another factor to be considered is the affect that a move will have on the movement of in-custody defendants and how transportation costs will be affected.”

The Virginia Guidelines list other criteria that should be considered. Among these are prominence of the site, proximity to other public buildings, and ease of public access.

Prominence of site.  A courthouse on Bendix Road will have no prominence. The building will NOT be visible from Route 108. It is tucked away behind other buildings and treed lots.

It is this lack of prominence that helps make the site well-suited for a middle school.

Proximity of other public buildings. There are no other public buildings currently near the Dorsey Building. The long-term plans for the Bendix Road site other than the courthouse, have not been announced. On the other hand, a middle school does not need any other buildings to function.

Ease of public access. The primary access to the Bendix site is from Route 108. The secondary access is an indirect route past homes in the Columbia Hills Meadowbrook Farms neighborhood. The residents would probably not welcome traffic cutting through the neighborhood from the Meadowbrook Park along 100 to get to the courthouse. Yet, such traffic from their own neighborhood would be welcome to go to a nearby middle school.

At nearly 29 acres, the Bendix site meets the requirements of an 800-900 seat school. Located in the southeast corner of the Northern Region it meets the need expressed in the Feasibility Study to “ultimately relieve crowding in the Northern and Columbia West Regions.” The location along the Route 108 Corridor, is well-suited to serve neighborhoods currently attending Harpers Choice and Wilde Lake Middle Schools. This will free up seats to accommodate the growth in Downtown Columbia.




columbia-east-middle-schoolsOn the other hand, the Marriottsville Road land bank site held by the HCPSS in the northeastern end of the Western Region is not adjacent to the confluence of the Northern, Northeast, Columbia West and Columbia East Regions where the major growth is occurring. The Marriottsville Road site also does not meet the requirements of Policy 6000 with its elongated and extreme shape with an approximately 100 foot wide choke point in the middle of the parcel. While the parcel is listed in the Feasibility Study as 41 acres, it is really two parcels of approximately 13 and 28 acres divided by the choke point. The site also has a hilly topography and wetland and drainage issues especially along the Marriottsville Road side.

Marriottsville Road Land Bank – Frontage on Route 40

Swapping the Bendix site is not a new idea. In 2004, County Executive Robey considered a proposal to sell the Dorsey Building to help finance the construction of a new courthouse.  Constructing a middle school on Bendix Road and selling the Marriottsville Road property could be the best verdict for the HCPSS and Howard County and a new courthouse.



Every day our so-called President and his staff say something totally untrue.

Yesterday, he said that the murder rate is at an all-time high. It is not. It is at a near all-time low.

The White House released a list of 78 so-called terrorist attacks that they alleged did not receive media coverage–most did get wide coverage.. The list included the Pulse Nightclub, the Nice truck attack, and the San Bernardino shooting–a shooting which the so-called President used to justify his original total and complete ban of Muslims entering the United States in 2015. Also on the list are incidents that were not terrorist attacks.

When a government uses alternative facts–lies–as truth there is no possibility to have policies that meet the actual needs. Instead we will have policies to fix non-existent problems. Wack lies give wack policies.



Inner Arbor Money Pit – Part I: The Fleecing of Columbia

The Inner Arbor Trust was set up by the Columbia Association as a separate 501(c)(3) to raise money. Yet, for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2016, the organization raised just $3950 with total income of $2,004,058 – mostly a grant from Howard County. This is just 0.197% of the total.inner-arbor-income-2016


Source: FY 2016 Audited Financial Statements

Yet, now Columbia Association Board Chair Andy Stack believe that the Inner Arbor needs an annual grant of $75,000 to pay for the upkeep.

This proposal being considered by the CA Board for the FY18 Budget (page 9 of 97)  It is also supported by CA Board Member and IAT Representative Lin Eagan and Board Member Brian Dunn. Dunn suggested at the January 12 Board Meeting that the $75,000 amount was too low and wanted it to be $100,000. All of this money is on top of the millions already given to the Inner Arbor by CA and Howard County. Now the IAT is also asking the State for a $250,000 grant (More about that later).

Andy Stack likens the grant to one provided to the Columbia Festival of the Arts. Stack is wrong in his comparison. The Festival of the Arts is an event program. Many of the events are free to the public and held on CA’s quasi-public open space. Conversely, the Inner Arbor has a physical structure–an income producing property–the Chrysalis.

The IAT has a contract with Merriweather Post Pavilion to use the IAT and pay for the use of the park. Stack’s proposal is flawed in other of ways. If the Columbia Festival of the Arts uses the Chrysalis and pays rent to the IAT, then the IAT will be double dipping from the CA residents–once indirectly from the grant to the Festival of the Arts and second from the direct grant to the Inner Arbor.

Tell the CA Board that the IAT does not need a maintenance subsidy for its new building when CA has a backlog of maintenance and replacement for its own buildings, pools, and open space.

Tell the Columbia Association Board to STOP the fleecing.

Sign White House Petition to Release Tax Returns


Immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.

Created by A.D. on January 20, 2017

The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution.





Becoming a Sanctuary Jurisdiction is a Battle HoCo Will Probably Lose

Enacting CB9-2017 which will make Howard County a sanctuary county seems to be a battle that the County will lose. The new conservative, Republican Trump Administration seems unwilling to tolerate ignoring federal immigration law.

Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions posted a press release on his Senate webpage July 29, 2016 explaining his opposition to the Obama Administration allowing sanctuary jurisdictions to persist. The Senator Jeff Sessions Press Release can also be read here.. It seems likely that as Attorney General, Sessions will take the legal action against local jurisdictions that the Obama Justice Department declined to take.

If a child makes a seen in public, they will communicate their anger to their parents. Yet, in the end the parents will win the battle when the child is grounded. If the intent of CB9-2017 is to express anger and distress with President Trump, we can do that. However, is the County willing to suffer the consequences of being grounded by the Trump Admistration?

Donald Trump, I Will Say “Happy Holidays”

On the “Walking Dead” the sadistic thug, Negan demands subservience and tribute from those around him. He demands that other groups he has subjugated as part of his fiefdom give him 50% of what they have. Well actually he just often takes what he wants. Often he takes things not because he has a need for them, but just because he can.

Negan demands that his subjects kneel before him and say “I am Negan.” All are part of his collective.

Negan enforces his dominance with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire that he named “Lucille.” He uses it to bash in the brains of those who have crossed him or more often to suit his whims and enact collective punishment against another group. He kills the living with the same method necessary in the zombie apocalypse to kill the dead — destroy the brain.

Both the “Walking Dead” and the election have gotten me upset. I have yelled at the television watching both. Both have kept me awake at night. I question why people are doing certain things. I wonder how people can be so stupid or not consider the consequences of their actions.

Donald Trump will soon have all the tools of the government – FBI, DEA, CIA, IRS — to enforce his dominance on the American people. He says in his rally speeches and in his tweets that everyone will be saying a certain holiday greeting that sounds like “Mary Christmas.” He, you, anyone is free to say it. I will not stop you. You have a right under the First Amendment to celebrate the holiday as you desire.

However, to make a point and because I can, I will not be under the Thumb of Trump. I will not say it. I have that right too under the First Amendment.

Christmas this year for the first time in decades coincides with Hanukkah. This week is Kwanzaa. And next weekend is New Year’s Day. There are a lot of holidays this week.

So I will just say “Happy Holidays to All and to All a Good Night!