[UPDATE: here's the Gazette story.]
Just as in prior meetings, the Montgomery County Council chamber was packed late this afternoon with dozens of residents intently listening to the proceedings.
But when the Council turned to the plan for financing needed infrastructure in White Flint, the crowd left; they were there for an earlier legislative proposal. What a change from a few short months ago, when White Flint was controversial and a hot ticket for citizen activism. Some citizen activists, from the group Action in Montgomery, did show up, but they were much more subdued than last week, and seemed relatively supportive of several aspects of the White Flint Plan.
The departing crowd missed a show, too, though it was highly technical and filled with numbers and jargon. Some measures were being negotiated and debated throughout the afternoon in the hallways outside the chamber, and then the Councilmembers did the same for several proposals dealing with the “advanced funding” intended to jumpstart the design and construction of the transportation infrastructure necessary to allow development of Rockville Pike.
When the dust settled, the Council had unanimously adopted a financing plan for White Flint.
There were actually three legislative proposals adopted today: an overall financing bill, a resolution establishing the Council’s strategy for White Flint infrastructure, and a special appropriation to jumpstart White Flint design and planning. The approved plan includes most of the recommendations proposed in the staff package, plus a few, relatively-minor changes proposed by the County Executive and the Council staff.
It’s been a long five years, working on this Plan, but it seems like it has finally, officially started. Afterwards, many of those who had worked so long to develop the Plan were either congratulating each other, or collapsed in chairs from exhaustion.
This was the last action of the current County Council. Tomorrow, Councilmembers Mike Knapp and Duchy Trachtenberg leave the Council, and new members Hans Riemer and Craig Rice join. Riemer, a long-time civic activist, has been particularly supportive of New Urbanism and White Flint in particular, and Rice is also expected to support the new community.