Standing Strong for Symphony Woods Park
While the Court of Special Appeals has summarily denied an emergency motion for injunctive relief pending an appeal, that denial is not dispositive of any of Columbia Association’s (CA) claims on appeal or pending in the circuit court. CA remains steadfast in its argument that the current drive-through holiday lights display – which has been held without our permission – is a clear violation of CA’s property rights. It blocks the public and the organization from accessing Symphony Woods Park and utilizing it to its fullest extent. It also creates unnecessary hazards for pedestrians, those relying on handicap parking and emergency responders.
Months prior to this year’s Symphony of Lights, our leadership made concerted steps to avoid litigation, reaching out to the parties involved to come up with a sustainable event – including walking options – that both served the community and respected Columbia Association’s property rights. Those attempts to collaborate were unsuccessful and often ignored.
CA is not alone in understanding the need for new ideas and new options. When Symphony of Lights was a purely charitable celebration, the Howard County General Hospital Foundation agreed it could not continue as a drive-through event. Engineers have affirmed the roads and pathways are not built for year after year of a weeks-long vehicular processions.
What CA seeks is simple: respect and regard for land we own and maintain for the people who work, live and play here. CA has been villainized for taking actions deemed necessary to protect an area that serves as a staple for Downtown Columbia. Those running the Symphony of Lights continue to use the pandemic and emotions to rationalize their property rights violations. We will continue to rely on facts and defend our right to protect Symphony Woods Park and all other Open Space from misuse.
CA will continue to pursue its claims to prevent unauthorized use and encroachment on its property. Nothing in this most recent and brief, one line decision undermines or precludes CA’s claims in this regard. Neither the complaint filed by CA in the circuit court, nor CA’s appeal of the lower court’s improvident failure to grant injunctive relief has been denied or dismissed.
As we’ve said before, CA is not and has never been opposed to any events that utilize our Open Space in a respectful and sustainable way consistent with this community’s greater mission and initiatives. CA remains committed to defending our right – and your right – to access Symphony Woods Park and safeguard this treasured part of our Downtown Columbia landscape.