Why can’t Long Reach Village Center just be great? Why y’all? After months and months and MONTHS of negotiations, letter writing, meetings, pleads from neighbors requesting that something wonderful happen to that center to revitalize it nothing will happen. Or at least for now. The center was already in decline when I moved to Howard County 10 years ago but at least they had a decent anchor with Safeway on the end. Then Safeway bid them adieu but not before subletting the space to Family Market, an International grocery store. Not exactly my cup of tea but it ain’t about me. That’s cool. Then [big sigh] Family Market screwed up and got kicked out by Safeway. So the county government decided to buy it and revitalize it themselves (bless Dr. Calvin Ball’s heart. He worked hard on that.) And a great offer from Celebration Church to take over the space that was occupied by Safeway came in. Splendid!! The church takes over the space and stability sets in again, right? NOPE!! Someone got it in their heads that parking spaces is something to fuss about and we’re back to square one. What a shame!! I had such high hopes for this merger. It’s interesting [but not surprising] that the area with some of the most African-American residents in Howard County would be left in limbo like this. It’s Black History month y’all. I’m in my feelings about this.
So what’s the plan? Safeway and Family Market isn’t going to work out. What’s the plan? Celebration Church, a very influential entity in Columbia among Black residents, can’t get any love. What’s the plan? A center for the arts in Columbia is not happening either. The county was buying it, not buying it, whatever. WHAT’S THE PLAN? I’m quite sure people in Long Reach are tired of their village center being neglected while other shopping districts, like Route 40, thrive. It’s a pimp slap in the face with baby powder. How do you make this right?
Dr. Ball, County Council Representative of District 2 where Long Reach is, wrote a very good letter about this to the Columbia Flier last week. He put out this challenge of sorts. He said LR needs a bold vision. I could not say AMEN enough when I read it. They do need a bold vision. He mentioned that people should not think of LR as a blank slate. Yep! It’s not a blank slate at all. There are families that have existed there for generations. There are store owners, like my main man Brian at the Beauty Supply, who have seen kids grow up and have their own kids right in that community. These folks are vested in Long Reach. That doesn’t sound like a blank slate to me. That sounds like fertile ground that needs some love. It’s worth the investment. There’s a very strong need for some creative solutions for Long Reach. Progressive people do progressive things. It’s time to make Long Reach great!
PS Is there a hastag for Long Reach revitalization? Brainstorm on that.