Class Offerings at Claret Hall

Music Together classes and ARYA Dance Academy classes are held at Claret Hall

GOSU Martial Arts and Shaolin Kung Fun hold classes at The Meeting Room.

Visit the Class Schedules page for all the details.


Association Submits Howard County Budget Priorities

The offices of County Executive Calvin Ball and District 4 Councilwoman Deb Jung reached out to the River Hill Community Association (RHCA) to seek input on the Howard County budget priorities. The RHCA Board of Directors has submitted the following items.

High Priority for Immediate Funding:
1. Allocate the necessary funding from the State of Maryland and Howard County to objectively measure the noise level in residential neighborhoods in close proximity to MD 32 using the testing method defined by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWAPD-96-046). In addition, a request that the results of the FHWA testing be presented to an open meeting of the River Hill community to be hosted by the RHCA Board of Directors within six months. Further, pending the results of the FHWA testing, the RHCA Board of Directors requests that State and County elected officials and civil servants develop a strategic plan to secure the funding for adequate noise barriers to reduce the level of noise pollution, thereby improving the quality of life for the residents whose homes are affected.
2. Recruit additional law enforcement professionals to significantly increase police presence in the community and curtail the excessive speed racing and exhibition driving throughout the streets of the Village of River Hill, and dirt bike racing on the Columbia Association paths. Speeding and excessive noise from motorized vehicles has become an everyday occurrence in the community and requires consistent monitoring by police. Therefore, an allotment for the purchase of handheld noise measuring devices for use by law enforcement, and Noise Abatement Monitoring Systems as described in Maryland Senate Bill 229 should also be included in the budget request.

Ongoing Funding Requests:
1. The Village is over thirty years old and many of the streets and sidewalks throughout our community require attention, including repaving streets and repairing uneven sidewalks that are a tripping hazard.
2. Several of the beautiful trees that line our streets have been removed because of disease and parasites. The RHCA Board of Directors would like to request that money be allocated to begin replanting these trees to improve the tree canopy adjacent to the Columbia Association Open Space and protect its wildlife.

Non-funding Requests:
RHCA would like a “seat at the table,” as a representative voice for the community, when the county is considering concepts, ideas, and plans that would have an impact on the environment and our quality of life. For example, keeping the Village apprised of plans to control the dirt bike racing on the CA pathways and the speed racing on our streets would be valuable to our community.

The BOD has offered to provide additional information on any of the budget requests and has also invited Dr. Ball and Ms. Jung to attend their monthly board meetings to stay informed about the community’s concerns.

Association to Submit Funding Priorities to Columbia Association

The River Hill Community Association (RHCA) has compiled a list of budget requests for Columbia Association’s (CA) FY25 Operating and Capital Budgets which will be submitted prior to the next CA Board of Directors meeting on December 14. The items identified are:
• CPRA Assessment Reduction – CA has experienced an average profit of four million dollars over the last four years. This represents approximately six cents per one thousand dollars of assessed value. The CPRA Assessment should be reduced by this amount.
• Restore Village Funding – RHCA would like to receive the pre-COVID funding levels plus an adjustment for inflation. Currently RHCA is operating without an Administrative  Assistant.
• Claret Hall Roof Replacement – The Claret Hall roof is 25 years old and in need of replacement.
• Fully Open and Accessible Pools for the 2024 Season – The FY25 Operating Budget should include adequate funding for competitive salaries for lifeguards to ensure that all 23 pools can open and be fully staffed for the duration of the FY25 summer pool season. This should include a multilingual recruitment initiative.
• Fully Fund Tree Replacement – CA should adopt and fully fund a one for one tree replacement policy when possible.
• Improved Village Entrance Signage – The Village signage is not visible at night and requires solar lighting.
• Play Area Repurposing – Creation of Village-based policies for inclusive, multi-generational play area designs to provide recreational opportunities for all ages and abilities.

Council Corner: A Tale of Two HOAs

In the September issue of The Villager, I discussed the need for a comparative analysis between the Columbia Association (CA) and other similar homeowner’s associations (HOAs). Reston Association, with over 21,000 units, has just over half the population of the Columbia Association, and provides a similar set of recreational amenities including pools, tennis courts, walking paths, and tot lots. This is a relevant comparison for analyzing CA’s budgeting and investment strategy, possibly leading to a more efficient CA and a better value for the residents.

Both the Columbia Association and the Reston Association charge homeowners an annual assessment to maintain its open space and facilities. CA’s annual charge is based on the assessed value of the property, and the average annual charge was approximately $1,100 in 2023. However, homeowners in River Hill pay significantly more than this as our homes have a higher assessed value than those in other villages. By comparison, Reston’s assessment was a fixed fee of $763 per unit in 2023, a difference of more than $300 annually on average.

Reston’s recreational facilities are primarily funded through their homeowner’s assessment, though residents pay a modest annual fee ($80 for a family of four) for unlimited access to the pools and tennis courts. A CA family currently pays $444 annually (family “Play” membership) for unlimited access to the outdoor pools and tennis courts, though this membership also includes the swim center, ice skating rink, and sports park. This represents an additional cost of more than $350 annually to take advantage of CA’s recreational facilities compared to Reston. Combined with the difference in the annual assessment, CA families pay an average of $650 more each year versus Reston families for similar services. Currently, less than 30% of CA residents have a CA membership.

For both the next strategic plan and future budget cycles, it is important for CA to look for ways to add value for the residents. CA needs to ensure that both the annual charge and membership rates are in line with homeowner’s associations in the area. At the same time, CA should conduct a cost analysis to determine the areas where the organization can become more efficient. This is important to ensure that CA has sufficient revenue to maintain both the open space and facilities, while increasing value for the residents.

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