Community Falls Short of Quorum, Board Authorizes 2nd Annual Meeting/Election on May 7

Village Elections for the River Hill Community Association (RHCA) Board of Directors were held on Saturday, April 20. The outcome of 108 votes being cast fell short of the needed 172 votes to reach a quorum. As a result, a second Annual Meeting/Election will be held on Tuesday, May 7, at Claret Hall from 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

The Candidates
This year’s election is uncontested. There are two people running for two seats on the RHCA Board of Directors —Kevin Bruening and Balbir Lakhanpal. If you’re interested in the way your Annual Assessment paid to the Columbia Association is spent, how pools and playgrounds are managed, what types of social events and programs are sponsored by the village for its residents, and the financial affairs of the community, the decision-makers are those that serve on the RHCA Board of Directors.

Voter Eligibility
Residents of the Village of River Hill age 18 and older are considered members of the RHCA and are permitted to vote. Residents must bring proof of person, residency, and age to the polls. A Maryland driver’s license, Howard County voter registration card, passport, and/or a birth certificate may be used. Tenants and new residents must present a deed, lease, or utility bill addressed to the individual at their River Hill residence.

Important deadlines related to the 2nd Annual Meeting/Election are on page 4 of the May issue of The Villager.

CA Names New President/CEO Shawn MacInnes

After a months-long recruitment effort and interview process, Columbia Association (CA) is pleased to announce Shawn MacInnes as the new President/CEO for the organization. MacInnes will start his position on June 17.

MacInnes has worked in high-level leadership positions in municipal government for more than 20 years, most recently as a town administrator on the south coast of Massachusetts. MacInnes started his career as an engineer with the Maryland State Highway Administration. He has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s in business administration with expertise in operational efficiencies, finance, information technology and customer service. MacInnes enjoys traveling with his wife and daughter, boating, playing hockey and participating in the Pan Mass Challenge each year to raise money for cancer research.

Interim President/CEO Dennis Mattey will remain in his position until the start of MacInnes’ tenure. Mattey has served in the interim position since February 2023 and has been with CA for 50 years, holding a wide variety of leadership roles. Most recently, Mattey was Vice President of Community Operations, overseeing CA’s commitment to open space maintenance, sustainability efforts,
event logistics and real estate services. He plans to retire once he leaves the organization in June.

Clarksville Area Survey Results Reflect Growing Pains

Thanks to all who participated in the Clarksville Area Development survey sent out by the River Hill Community Association (RHCA) in March. A total of 270 responses were collected—84% of which were from Village of River Hill residents. The survey asked about traffic noise along Route 32, traffic congestion along Route 108 between MD 32 and Trotter Road, degree of awareness regarding proposed projects such as the continuing care/retirement community near the Route 108/Sheppard Lane intersection and Phase 2 of Clarksville Commons, and opinions on the best use for the undeveloped parcel of land at the rear of Clarksville Commons.

Here are the results:
47.8% said that ever since MD 32 was widened in recent years, the noise level has increased while 25.6% said that it has stayed the same, and another 25% were unsure.
73.7% said the traffic congestion along Route 108 between MD 32 and Trotter Road over the last 12 months has increased while 17% said that it has stayed the same.
49.4% claimed to be “somewhat aware” of the proposed projects for the Erickson Living continuing care retirement community and Phase 2 of Clarksville Commons, while 30.5% felt they were “very aware” of those projects. 7% admitted to being “not at all aware” and 13% said they were “relatively unaware” of the projects being proposed.
53.6% believe that the best option for Clarksville Commons Phase 2 (development of the undeveloped section of the parcel to the rear of the parking lot located on Route 108 between Kendall Hardware and Wendy’s fast-food restaurant) would be to have more restaurants, shops, and commercial office space. 31% believe that the best use would be in the “Other” category with the majority of those respondents stating that it should be left undeveloped. Additional popular responses were to make it a park/playground or a library.

Watch your email for future surveys from RHCA, and please participate in them. This is your community, and the surveys provide insight for the RHCA Board of Directors, local officials, and other community stakeholders.

Unsure whether you’re already subscribed to RHCA’s email distribution list? Subscribe by sending an email to newsletter@villageofriverhill.org, and we’ll make sure you’re signed up.

Council Corner: Modernizing Columbia’s Play Areas

I recently commissioned my five-year-old son to conduct an evaluation of the recently replaced Six Pence Tot Lot in Hickory Ridge. The renovation of this play area had been the subject of much controversy due to it being significantly larger and more expensive than the “Rascal” design that the Columbia Association had started using for most replacements. The evaluation process consisted of playing on the “Two Towers” structure, a brief test of the swing set, and a game of telephone with me using the talking tube, which was by far his favorite feature. Overall, my son gave the design two thumbs up, though he would have preferred the slides to be much taller and longer. This tot lot, like the “Rascal” designs, is geared for 2- to 5-year-olds, so my son is quickly outgrowing it.
When the Board approved the Six Pence Tot Lot renovation, it also directed CA to create a pilot program to re-imagine our system of play areas. As a result of the pilot program, a new play area policy and guidance was approved by the Board at this past April’s meeting. Based on this policy and guidance, replacement play area designs will feature much more variety, instead of being a set of mostly identical “Rascal” designs. This will allow for designs to feature different types of climbing features and include equipment that will appeal to 5- to 12-year-olds.

To ensure that each neighborhood has access to the wider range of tot lot designs, the policy directs CA to use geographical information system (GIS) tools to establish clusters of play areas within the same vicinity. The guidance also directs CA to work with village boards and solicit community feedback to influence the designs of replacement play areas. The goal is to develop play area replacement designs to better serve the neighborhoods that they are located in. I am excited to see how the re-imagining of our play areas will serve a wider range of ages and play styles. In addition to climbing structures, equipment that is sports oriented, fitness oriented, or even musically oriented could also be considered. The key is to re-imagine our play areas as a system that has a broader appeal in order to better serve the entire community.

Eric Greenberg is the River Hill Representative to
Columbia Council and the CA Board of Directors.
Email: Eric.Greenberg@ca-board.org.
Disclaimer: This column reflects the views of Eric Greenberg only and not those of the CA Board or the River Hill Board of Directors.