20 Aug 2014
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Columbia Ranks As A Top Suburb

A news site ranks Columbia as one of the best suburbs in the country.

Columbia Ranks As A Top Suburb

According to news site CNBC, Columbia is one of the most “perfect” suburbs in the country.

Columbia ranked 10th out of 10 on the site’s “perfect suburbs” poll, which used data from Location, Inc. to rank the country’s suburbs on such criteria as affordability, schools, percentage of educated residents, crime, employment and commute times to nearby cities.

“Columbia is a white-collar city with a workforce especially high in professionals, managers, sales workers, and office workers,” the report stated. “It has better public schools than 89 percent of all U.S. communities, and its public schools are 100 percent better than the rest of the state.”

Kensington was the only other suburb in Maryland to make the list.

The poll was released Sept. 1.

Other suburbs included in CNBC’s top 10 list included, Morgan, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City; Round Rock, Texas, a suburb of Austin; and Wexford, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh.  

Some residents are already weighing in on the ranking.

"What I've come to notice is that these rankings do more harm than good.  I don't get an e-mail from  Zillow every time a ranking comes out saying 'Congratulations!  Your property value has gone up 1%,'" wrote Howard County blogger Tom Coale on his site  HoCo rising. "That's not to say these rankings don't make Columbia more attractive, but on a more practical, facts-on-the-ground level, have we seen much in the way of a positive effect other than chest pounding and 'We're Number Two' parties?"  

Meanwhile, Barbara Kellner, Director of the Columbia Archives, has conflicting views about the ranking. While she sees it as a good way to bring people into the area, she questions the poll's definition of a suburb as well as some of its criteria. 

"Columbia has gathered a number of these designations over the years, and honestly I'm not really sure how much they mean," Kellner said. "But if it brings people to Columbia, that’s good...You can’t buy that kind of advertising nationwide." 

However Kellner sees Columbia as more of a city than a suburb.

“I like to think of Columbia as a city in that the plan and the actuality is that it offers everything a small city offers with no need to go outside to live, work, shop, eat out, view cultural events, participate in and watch sporting events, attend religious services, etc," she wrote in an email. "But Columbia is a suburb as defined by the dictionary in that is adjacent to and within commuting distance from a larger city -- in this case two larger cities.  About 40 percent of the adults commute to those cities or the environs to work so you can not say it's not a suburb.  Interestingly, in an interview Jim Rouse did more than 20 years ago he talked about Columbia spawning its own suburbs.  That has happened in the development of areas around Columbia.”  

She added that she hopes the poll won't allow residents to stop trying to improve what needs improving in the area. 

"People should really look at this with a grain of salt and not attach too much pride to this designation," Kellner said. "We should continue to want to make this place better because we’re not perfect; we were never planned to be utopia...Yes we live in a wonderful place but let’s strive for people to be involved and make Columbia better." 

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