Two measures to incentivize Capital Bikeshare development got unanimous approval from the Montgomery County Council today, before the County plans to install 11 stations next spring in Bethesda.
One of the bills will allow the county to use funds from a special development tax to build and maintain the system, which officials hope can duplicate the success of Bikeshare in Arlington and D.C. The second measure allows for building permits for a Bikeshare station without an approved site plan, something developers told the county would be an obstacle.
“These two pieces of legislation are a response to feedback we heard from the private sector as to what our County could do to make partnering with us a more attractive option to developers as we work to expand Capital Bikeshare to Montgomery County,” said Council President Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac). “I am very optimistic that we are making progress on this endeavor.”
Flickr photo by James D. Schwartz
The Montgomery County Council will host a public forum on budget planning in an attempt to alert residents to another expected difficult budget season, especially in terms of new state requirements for school funding.
The 90-minute session will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 in the Third Floor Council Hearing Room (100 Maryland Ave., Rockville) and will include a briefing on challenges the Council expects in finding money for any desired programs.
In a press release Tuesday, a new state requirement that counties take on a larger portion of funding for teacher pensions seemed to take the brunt of the blame for those challenges.
“It is essential for the Council to understand how legislative changes at the state level will impact the County’s operating budget in Fiscal Year 2014 and how these changes will impact the County’s ability to fund government services over time,” Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) said in the release. “This budget forum is an opportunity for the Council to share information with community organizations throughout the County and to discuss how state budget decisions impact services at the local level.”
The Council is also inviting residents to comment and ask questions about programs in next year’s budget, but outgoing Council President Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) cautioned about how much the group could actually change.
“The past few years have been economically challenging for the County as they have been for individuals, families, and businesses all across the country,” Berliner said. “The upcoming year’s operating budget looks like it will be no less difficult.”
Officials from the Defense Intelligence Agency recently presented potential designs for a Sangamore Road Intelligence Campus that better fit the architectural and landscaping characteristics of the area, according to some at a community meeting with the agency on Thursday afternoon.
The DIA is planning a $300 million, 40-acre campus at 4600 Sangamore Road, the former site of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The Geospatial-Intelligence Agency moved out last fall for Virginia, as part of the federally mandated Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program.
In the meantime, a number of residents expressed concern that plans for the expanded new campus (set for 3,000 workers in various intelligence capacities) would cause excessive damage to trees and the forested area around the facility.
Winnebago Road resident Harry Pfohl said the selection of D.C. architecture firm Leo A Daly, known for integrating development with surrounding greenspace, made everybody much more comfortable with the project.
“They presented some real ways to integrate the project with the National Park forestland behind it and to landscape the garage to provide for a more wooded, natural setting,” Pfohl said. “The concepts were unanimously enthusiastically received by the community leaders. That really says something.”
County planners had also requested the DIA pursue a similar path, but as is the case with projects at the National Institutes of Health and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, county government has little authority on the development of federal projects.
“County Planning was present at the meeting and County Planning was enthusiastic,” Pfohl said. “The end result should be a really nice place for people to work as well and a really nice fit for the neighborhood.”
Pfohl said he was impressed by the stormwater management plan and potential landscaping features like small ponds. He said the entire community group of seven or eight nearby community leaders walked away happy about the project after months of worrying about lost parkland, lost views of the Potomac River, more traffic and other issues.
“Everyone was grinning,” Pfohl said.
Requests for comment from the Defense Intelligence Agency were not returned as of Tuesday morning.
Some residents use a shopping cart from a nearby grocery store as protection, others splash a cup of coffee on cars with drivers who don’t follow the rules, but almost everyone has their own method for maneuvering the crosswalk on Wisconsin Avenue at Stanford Street.
The crossing, on a busy stretch of Wisconsin Avenue between Bradley Boulevard and Leland Street, has no traffic light. State law says drivers must yield to pedestrians, but residents say they rarely do in the hustle and bustle of a daily commute.
“People do drive it like a highway,” said Chevy Chase resident Tracey Johnstone. “Cars start charging and they just want to keep going. I know the county knows it’s a problem.”
Johnstone, an officer of the Action Committee for Transit, will speak about the crosswalk at the monthly meeting of the transportation advocacy group. The meeting is titled “Montgomery County Doesn’t Want You to Cross the Street,” and includes two other examples of what residents say are dangerous crosswalks.
Another ACT officer will talk about the Gaithersburg crossing at Route 118 and Wisteria Drive, where a Seneca Valley High School student was struck and killed while walking to school on Oct. 31.
Pedestrians at Wisconsin Avenue, many walking to the Post Office on the west side or the popular Trader Joe’s grocery store on the east side, typically wait for no traffic to cross, though it can be difficult to find a gap in southbound traffic during rush hour.
Johnstone said she had a near incident on Sunday. Two of three drivers stopped their cars and allowed her to cross, as nearby signs warn is the law. Johnstone said a third driver kept going, almost running her over, despite making eye contact.
He made it another roughly 30 feet before having to stop at the red light at Bradley Boulevard, Johnstone said.
“It’s part of a larger problem of no traffic or speeding enforcement around Bethesda,” Johnstone said. “Now that we have construction and Woodmont is cut off, I think cars are all the more irritable now in Bethesda.”
Johnstone suggested an overhead crosswalk light similar to other cities, where pedestrians could hit a cross button and the lights would flash to alert drivers.
The ACT meeting for November is tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the DHHS Silver Spring Center (8818 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.)
The Chop’t Creative Salad Company is opening tomorrow at Wildwood Shopping Center (10307 Old Georgetown Rd.) and doing so with a special fundraiser for the Manna Food Center.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (or until the food runs out) the newest location of the fast casual salad and sandwich chain will offer $2 salads and salad sandwiches. All proceeds go to Manna, the Gaithersburg-based food bank that serves a number of local nonprofits.
From the event announcement:
To get our staff ready, we invite you to come put them to the test and try our food FOR FREE with a $2 donation to the Manna Food Center, the main food bank in Montgomery County, before we open our newest location to the public.
Chop’t has multiple locations in D.C. and Arlington. It is taking over the Renaissance Fine Arts space in the Old Georgetown Road shopping center.
Flickr photo by Maryland Route 5
Walter Reed Janitors Say They Haven’t Been Paid — A group of about 220 janitors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center filed a complaint with the federal labor department claiming they did not get paid as scheduled Friday and were told to still come into work. The contractor that pays them, Gaithersburg-based Escab Enterprises, recently lost its contract on the base and stopped paying the workers’ insurance premiums in June, they allege. [The Gazette]
Montgomery Schools Boss Gives ‘State of the Schools’ Address — County Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr spoke about using creativity and technology in narrowing the achievement gap during a speech yesterday morning at the Music Center at Strathmore. [Washington Post]
Lockheed CEO Says Company Moving On — After the resignation of CEO-to-be Christopher Kubasik because of the revelation of a relationship with a subordinate, Lockheed Martin CEO Bob Stevens said the company will remain on solid ground. Kubasik was supposed to take over for Stevens on Jan. 1 at the Bethesda-based defense company. [Washington Business Journal]
Yesterday’s Morning Metro Commute, In Pictures — Metro went on with weekend repair work and single tracking yesterday morning, as federal workers were off for the observance of Veterans Day. But quite a few other people still had work, as evidenced by the clogged platforms at many stations, including Bethesda. [Washington Post]
Flickr photo by AmyMarieMoore