Columbia has room to become 'artistic enabled community' [Letter]

I harbor high hopes that Columbia can blossom to the next level in creating a "go to" environment that supports and nurtures art and artists. Recently the Columbia Association has stepped up offering public forums on this and Jane Dembner of the Association has been doing a wonderful job.

But Columbia needs just a little bit more than just the enthusiasm. We need more residents to spread the support around. Redevelopment is helping this with new residences downtown.

I have sat in Barbara Kellner's "Columbia Archives" and watched old grainy films of James Rouse lecturing a group of urban architects at a conference in the '70s — saying he full well expected Columbia's population to be around 300,000 residents by the late 1990s. We are still struggling to make 100,000. But to cut to the chase, if you go to Wikipedia you will note: Columbia comprises about 32 square miles — about 10 percent of Howard County — and has about 99,700 residents give or take.

So comparing Columbia with other local and non-local population centers that are often used as bench marks for "artistic enabled communities" — and using simple arithmetic to see what Columbia's population would have to be for the same density of people to share in supporting the arts — these are some numbers for consideration compared to Columbia's current population of almost 100,000:

At a Bethesda density, Columbia would have 136,000 residents; at a Silver Spring density, Columbia would have 291,000 residents; at a Washington, D.C., density, Columbia would have 332,000 residents.

While all of us do worry about more residents creating more burden on our roads and infrastructure — the price may very well be worth it — as people often seem content with the aforementioned art-enabled population centers. Just a thought.

Rick Wilson


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