What is the Fate of our Neighborhood Centers?

Columbia Association’s Board of Directors (CABOD) is in the process of developing its FY21 and conditional FY22 operating and capital budgets. The CABOD discussed several important issues during October and November including Haven on the Lake, capital budget requests and the future of the neighborhood centers.

The Board of Directors established an annual capital budget spending cap of $15,000,000 for FY21 and FY22. CA’s capital budget has been approximately $20,000,000 annually. The reduction in the annual spending cap is an effort by the Board to not increase the annual assessment rate charged to stakeholders by the CA and minimize borrowing. The CABOD hopes to maintain the annual capital budget spending cap of $15,000,000 for the next 10 years.

During CA’s FY21/22 budgeting process earlier in the fall, the members of the CABOD tentatively approved completing the Supreme Sports Club’s renovations and renovating the Columbia Gym locker rooms. Additional information about these improvements is forthcoming. Also, the remaining clay tennis courts at Hobbits Glen are tentatively scheduled to be renovated. Further, the Board will invest in the neighborhood and community centers including the design and build of an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant elevator in the Historic Oakland Manor. Additional funds have been set aside for neighborhood center renovations, pending a review and approval of a neighborhood center policy.

Haven on the Lake is a 27,000 square foot retreat operated by Columbia Association currently in its fifth year of operation. In August 2018, the spa tenant closed its doors. This caused a deterioration in the financial performance of the Haven. At the October Board meeting, it was decided that Columbia Association would reintroduce a spa to be managed by a third party management company. Staff believes that this will provide the clearest path to financial sustainability. The Haven provides Mind Body movement classes with dedicated Pilates, Heat Yoga and Yoga studios. There are also a variety of healing environments to enhance your time at the retreat. Columbia residents are encouraged to arrange a tour of the spa to experience its amenities.

The CABOD is grappling with the concept of neighborhood centers. There are fourteen neighborhood centers in Columbia’s ten villages. The buildings range in size from 586 to 4,400 square feet. Most neighborhood centers are built to residential standards and do not meet existing building codes, including being ADA compliant. In the six villages which have neighborhood centers, the usage is largely split between co-op/nursery schools and meeting space. One neighborhood center is currently utilized by the Village in Howard. The considerations before the Board are both the cost to maintain the neighborhood centers and the highest and best use of these facilities for the community. The CABOD is committed to developing a strategy to create an environment which will work for the residents and nourish the growth of a sense of community. The Village of River Hill has one neighborhood center, The River Hill Meeting Room, located adjacent to the outdoor swimming pool. This facility is currently used for a variety of classes, meetings, and parties. I encourage each of you to contact me with your feedback on this discussion regarding the neighborhood centers, particularly The Meeting Room in River Hill. Many residents have used our neighborhood center over the years for a variety of purposes such as a nursery school co-op, for scout troop meetings, private parties, and other rental events, classes, SAT prep and more. Your opinions about CA continuing to maintain our neighborhood center truly matter, and I look forward to your comments.

I am available by cell phone 443-686-0702 or to meet in person at your convenience. Bagel Bites and Talk will resume after the holidays. Stay tuned!

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