The Citizens Advisory Board that covers Bethesda, Chevy Chase, North Potomac and Potomac is hoping the County Council adds more money to its FY14 budget for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.
The Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane) is the county government’s base of operations in downtown Bethesda, but has gone through significant staff and funding cuts in recent years. The Center is down to Director Ken Hartman, who oversees many of the boards and committees that deal with development and government services, Bethesda Urban District manager Karen Thon and an intern.
County Executive Isiah Leggett’s proposed FY14 budget includes a $17,000 bump in funding from last year, an amount that Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board chair Marc Korman last week told Councilmembers was not enough:
The Regional Services Centers perform a valuable local government service and must be maintained and strengthened. The Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, for example, has been instrumental in coordinating public dialogue on Woodmont Triangle development and White Flint urban services, assisting emerging Senior Villages, and increasing non-profit services. We are disappointed that the recommended operating budget proposes only a relatively negligible increase in funding to the Regional Services Centers (approximately $17,000 over last year’s approved expenditure). We urge the County Council to recognize the vital function performed by the Regional Services Centers, and increase funding proportionally. Specifically, the regional services centers need their own administrative coordinator at each center, at least on a part time basis. Some of the work done in these centers cannot be done from Rockville.
The Citizens Advisory Board also identified a faster Bethesda CBD Sector Plan rewrite, library funding, an increase in School Resource Officers and economic development funding as priorities in its full testimony.
Video via Montgomery County Council
If you’re planning a future political campaign, or if you’re just interested in how the local campaign process works, Leadership Montgomery has a workshop coming to Bethesda that might pique your interest.
On Saturday, March 2, the group will run an event called “How to run for elected office,” with tips on how to raise money, contact voters, conduct media outreach, gain endorsements and build a campaign team.
Speakers include Gaithersburg County Councilman Phil Andrews (who according to The Gazette has started a 2014 county executive campaign of his own), Brian McKevitt from the county’s Board of Elections, David Moon from political blog Maryland Juice, former County Councilman Michael Knapp, Montgomery County Republican Central Committee first vice chair Katja Bullock and public relations and marketing professional Steve Simon.
The workshop runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane) and costs $35 with preregistration and $50 at the door.
It’s open to everyone, whether you’re potential candidate, campaign manager, campaign fundraiser or a resident interested in the nuts and bolts of the process.
For more information and to preregister, visit the event page on the Leadership Montgomery website.
(UPDATED: 12:45 p.m.) County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) is coming to Bethesda tonight to discuss the upcoming budget, and it’s expected he’ll emphasize the challenges involved with another tight budget cycle.
But the forum might also serve as a question-and-answer type session on a range of Bethesda issues.
At a budget forum earlier this month in Silver Spring, Leggett answered questions about noise from the ICC highway. Before tonight’s forum starts at 7 p.m., the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board will meet.
A recent dust-up over the Bethesda Metro South Entrance project could come up. Leggett recommended delaying funding for the project because the county views it as tied to the uncertain Purple Line project. But transportation advocates say the South Entrance should be built regardless.
The forum will take place at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane).
Not long after Leggett’s appearance tonight, County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) will hold a similar gathering at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.
A Council spokesman announced today that Berliner invites residents to join him at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday for another part of his series of “Conversations With Roger Berliner.”
Flickr photo by Alan Bowser
Leggett will host one of five budget forums at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane) at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28.
He’ll also make three stops in various Silver Spring locations and one in Germantown to get input on residents’ budget priorities.
He’ll likely spend much of the time explaining how some priorities will have to wait again, in light of another tight budget year. The county must deal with a strengthened maintenance of effort law that will shift more of the cost for schools from the state to counties.
County Council analysts say providing the minimum school funding amount required by the law could mean a 4.9 percent cut in other services.
Flickr photo by Montgomery College
Repairs are finished on the Old Georgetown Road pedestrian bridge, which is scheduled to reopen today, according to the Bethesda Urban Partnership.
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation closed the bridge, which connects Bethesda Place to the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, in April to repair and repaint it.
According to Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman, droppings from pigeons roosting in the cladding and poor drainage helped to corrode joints and connections in the steel structure.
The bridge, once light blue, is now red.
Photo via Bethesda Urban Partnership.
First, the Montgomery County Young Democrats will analyze election results during their November membership meeting today from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane).
Panelists include Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Dist. 14), who represents parts of Silver Spring and East Montgomery, Maryland Democratic Party Executive Director David Sloan and political blogger David Moon, of Maryland Juice.
For more info and to RSVP, visit the event page.
On Tuesday, Dec. 4, Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza will hold a discussion to interpret the election results and the upcoming fiscal cliff. That event will take place at 7 p.m. at the Round House Theatre Bethesda (4545 East-West Highway).
Tickets to the talk, sponsored Round House Theater and Bethesda Magazine, are $15.
The project, which will keep Woodmont Avenue closed south of the intersection with Bethesda Avenue at Bethesda Row for about two years, is progressing, according to an update today from the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center:
The Lot 31 excavation and sheeting/shoring work continues to be the primary work at the site. The excavator is beginning to encounter small rock areas, but to date the rock has been “rippable” by the excavation equipment. Sheeting/shoring and tie back operations continue around the site also. For reference, at the southwest side of the site the hole is just over 50% excavated.
The update also says there have been no major changes to traffic operations in the area in the last two weeks. In the days after the closure, County Department of Transportation officials moved to increase signage near the residential Leland Street area after finding motorists trying to cut through.
The update also included photos of excavation progress. Construction crews must dig on the site of the lot and Woodmont Avenue to build a parking garage underneath. They will then repave Woodmont Avenue on top of the garage, which will serve two new apartment complexes.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials are slated to discuss an aggressive maintenance schedule at Bethesda Metro stops when they come to a citizens advisory board meeting on Monday.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said WMATA understands the inconvenience of weekend station closings and train delays, but the system must “catch up” on maintenance after years of work that was pushed off.
“This is not the position we want to be in,” Stessel said. “Much of it is safety-related. When that catch-up phase is done, we will back off from doing track work as frequently.”
Metro has made a commitment to replace or rehabilitate many facets of the Red Line — insulator renewal (meaning the third rail), water and tunnel leak repairs, platform reconstruction, electrical upgrades and the replacement of track circuit modules, included.
Stessel characterized that process as more than a year-old and a few years away from completion.
On the weekends of Sept. 21-Sept. 23 and Oct. 19-Oct. 21 the Bethesda and Medical Center Metro stations were closed for work on both tracks. Metro replaced trains with free shuttle buses between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Friendship Heights.
“Weekends are our best opportunity to get the work done. If you think about the work window that’s available to us overnight after the system closes, that’s really only about three hours, maybe three and a half,” Stessel said. “So weekends are when the action happens, the best way to maximize productivity to get as much done as possible.”
Members of the Western Montgomery Citizens Advisory Board are likely to hear the same answers at their November meeting on Monday at the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.
For the next two months no major track work that will close stations or single track on the west side of the Red Line is scheduled.
Stessel said Metro expects to have its weekend track work schedule for the first six months of 2013 set up in the next few weeks.
Flickr photo by SubiYurek
With Montgomery County’s senior population on the rise, so is the number of “senior villages,” organizations of volunteers that provide in-home visits, rides to the doctor office, help with chores and a host of other services to those who wish to age in their homes.
On Monday, the Washington Area Villages Exchange (WAVE) came to the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center for its quarterly meeting.
Hanne Caraher, 75, was in the audience, listening to an attorney describe the steps necessary to create a non-profit Senior Village. Caraher lives in Bethesda, in a residential neighborhood off Old Georgetown Road where she senses there’s a need.
“It’s kind of an established neighborhood. We don’t have many new families moving in so people are aging around me,” Caraher said. “I’ve lived here since 1961. That’s my good luck and many people haven’t moved either.”
The desire of seniors to age in their homes is almost universal, said Miriam Kelty, who helped create the “Neighbors Assisting Neighbors” program about five years ago in the Bannockburn neighborhood.
“We know that older people would prefer to stay in their own homes, or at least their own communities,” said Kelty, who helped start the organization after retiring from the National Institute On Aging. “We also know that physical, social and intellectual activity are very critical to aging well.”
The Bannockburn program is all volunteers and requires no fee or membership. Seniors can ask for help with transportation, household chores and equipment loans and can attend a monthly educational event on things such as container gardening, digital photography or even “tough conversations that you need to have with your children.”
The nearby Burning Tree Village has operated since about the same time, providing many of the same services to seniors in the neighborhood of 450 households.
Montgomery County has the most seniors in the state, according to the county’s Division of Aging and Disability Services, a number that has grown by 130 percent from 1980 to 2010 thanks in part to the “silver tsunami” of baby boomers aging into retirement.
“We really see a neighborhood as an extended family,” said Burning Tree Village Board member Nancy Aronson. “These days people don’t often live near their family. I have a daugther in Hawaii, a son in Connecticut. It’s hard for people even if they have children nearby. But we provide people who are happy and willing and available to help.”
Caraher’s project is just beginning. She’s hoping to find interested members to form a steering committee soon.
“We want to support a good quality of life,” Kelty said, “a satisfying quality of life that we know from the data people want by staying in their own homes.”
Work on the pedestrian bridge over Old Georgetown Road in downtown Bethesda is progressing and today the wood and plastic covering the project came off to reveal a new paint job.
The new red paint is the signature color of downtown Bethesda, according to Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Director Ken Hartman in an April interview with Bethesda Patch.
The bridge, which had to repaired because of corroded steel, was previously light blue. It connects Bethesda Place on the south side of Old Georgetown Road to the Metropolitan Apartments and the Regional Services Center on the north side.
A Montgomery County spokesperson said the painting, priming and cleaning of the bridge was the final phase of the project.
The U.S. Department of the Navy has released its draft environmental impact statement (EIS), a required study that will look at the effect of plans to demolish five campus buildings and build a new medical facility and a new research facility.
The EIS will be made available online on Friday and is available in hard copy form for on-site review at Montgomery County libraries and the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.
The draft review process will begin in earnest with two public hearings at the Pooks Hill Bethesda Marriott (5151 Pooks Hill Rd.). The Oct. 4 hearing will go from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. A 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. hearing will take place on Oct. 11.
Additionally, the Walter Reed BRAC Integration Committee will meet on Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the BCCRSC, where the Navy is expected to provide an update on the EIS process.
The county Department of Transportation will also give a presentation on the Wisconsin Avenue crossing project.
Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman advised those interested in reviewing the EIS document at the RSC to call first, at 240-777-8210.
Flickr pool photo by AmyMarieMoore
The 90-foot pedestrian bridge over Old Georgetown Road in downtown Bethesda has been closed since April, when the Montgomery County Department of Transportation sealed off the entrance at Bethesda Place, boarded up the structure and put a sheet over it for eight months of rehabilitation work.
The first phase of the project, the cleaning and priming of the bridge, is done and the rest is on schedule, according to a Montgomery County spokesperson.
Crews are now repairing the steel members, connections and joints that were corroded from poor drainage and, according to Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman in an April interview with Bethesda Patch, droppings from pigeons roosting in the cladding.
That work is expected to finish next week. Final cleaning, priming and painting of the bridge will start within the next few weeks.
The Bethesda Urban Partnership, the county-funded nonprofit that maintains and promotes downtown Bethesda, began work today (Thursday) on a five-year strategic plan it will present to the county next year when it seeks reauthorization.
Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman, a county executive branch staff member and non-voting member of BUP’s 11-person Board, said today’s meeting was to “map out the process,” and is asking residents and business owners for input.
Montgomery County started the BUP in 1994 and charged it with landscaping, maintenance and the creation and promotion of special events in downtown Bethesda. In 2006, BUP took over operation of the county’s Bethesda Trolley service, which eventually became the Bethesda Circulator bus.
The majority of BUP’s funding comes from parking revenues in county-owned garages and the special Urban District Tax on downtown Bethesda businesses. Hartman said the BUP will organize focus groups of stakeholders to address strengths and weaknesses.
“We’re talking to the public, to the business community because we appreciate your comments,” Hartman said. “We’re not a municipality, but we certainly have municipal issues.”
Meanwhile, two BUP board positions are open, subject to approval by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D).
Residents Voice Crowding Concerns — With a number of apartment and condominium projects under construction or on the way, one neighborhood association leader called the development boom “the Manhattan-izing of Bethesda.” [Washington Examiner]
Live & Learn Bethesda Releases Fall Class Schedule — New classes include courses on storytelling and ballroom dancing. All classes in the program, geared toward older adults, take place in the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center. [Live & Learn Bethesda]
NIH Renews Democracy Plaza Lease — The General Services Administration signed a 10-year lease renewal for the National Institutes of Health’s two buildings on Democracy Plaza, about three miles from the NIH campus. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr photo by Tampen
Katie Ledecky, Scott Parsons and Julie Zetlin, the three Bethesda natives who competed in the recently completed London 2012 Olympics, will be honored with a homecoming ceremony of sorts next Friday (Aug. 24) at the Bethesda Metro station Metro Center plaza.
The 15-year-old Ledecky, a student at the Stone Ridge School and the youngest U.S. Olympian, won swimming gold in the 800 freestyle, a dominating victory that quickly led to a ton of media attention.
Parsons, 33, competed in his third Olympic slalom kayaking event, finishing in 16th place.
Zetlin was the first U.S. competitor in rhythmic gymnastics since 2004. She finished 21st in qualification.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) and County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) will be at the event, organized by the Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP), Greater Bethesda Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center and Brookfield Properties.
The ceremony will kick off at 5:30 p.m.