Friends of White Flint

Promoting a Sustainable, Walkable and Engaging Community

P.O. Box 2761

White Flint Station

Kensington, MD 20891

Phone: 301-980-3768

Email: info@whiteflint.org


Change is Good

Posted on by Barnaby Zall

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The Friends of White Flint Board of Directors decided last night to hold a meeting to discuss the future of the organization and its web sites. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held on Monday, October 24, at 7PM, at the offices of Federal Realty, 1626 East Jefferson in Rockville.

February 16 FoWF Board Meeting

 Background:
FoWF started in 2007 principally to promote the development of a White Flint Master Plan designed to convert the area into a transit-oriented, sustainable, pedestrian-friendly urban center. The White Flint Master Plan was adopted in March 2010, and the required enacting legislation was finalized in July of this year. The County Council, FoWF and many others celebrated White Flint being “open for business” on July 22. http://blog.friendsofwhiteflint.org/2011/07/27/white-flint-open-for-business/.
 
In 2010 and again this year, the FoWF Board discussed whether and how to continue FoWF after its first goal was achieved. The Board decided that there was a role for an advocacy group to monitor and comment on implementation plans, and none of the other groups organized by various County agencies filled the same role as the non-profit and independent FoWF.
 
Nevertheless, in part because of tremendous pressure from recent budget crises and in part because, frankly, I have been remiss in keeping up the website, several groups, including some County organizations, have asked to join with FoWF in the website, or in other activities.
 
The Proposals:
There have been several proposals of varying types: some suggest that FoWF take over certain roles in White Flint implementation, such as forming the nucleus for a Business Improvement District; others suggest that FoWF partner with a county body, such as the White Flint Urban District, to promote White Flint as a destination; still others simply ask that we let the County take over the whiteflint.org web site.
 
Reaction to the Proposals:
Reactions to the first set of proposals, when broached to Friends and Directors, were heated. Just a few selections:
Councilmember Nancy Floreen: “I would urge you to consider this move carefully. If you merge with a government entity, the Friends lose their flexibilty and identity and probably creativity. You become government, which is not as agile as the private sector would permit. I think that would be a great loss.”

Councilmember Nancy Floreen (L), Dan Hoffman and the Hoffman kids at the "White Flint Is Open For Business" Celebration

 
Former Planning Board Vice-Chair John Robinson: “What if you all do not agree with what the government wants to do, such as shift social or amenity costs to the private sector that were not contemplated by the White Flint sector plan. What if the opposite occurs, that the “government” proposes to cut back on its own commitments to amenities, transportation funding, etc. At that point disagreeing with the government and supporting the private sector (business or citizens in general) becomes very awkward if the government has voting representatives on the Board.”
Randolph Civic Association head Dan Hoffman: “I feel like having one dialogue about it would be healthy at this point.”
FoWF Co-Chair for Residents Suzanne Hudson: “The role of Friends may change because of the Urban District but the need for its input outside of the governmental process could be critical. Part of that is being a counter point to the county government.”

Suzanne Hudson, FoWF Co-Chair for Residents

 
My view:
I am the founder and chief bottlewasher for FoWF. I am not taking any position on any of the proposed options. I will point out that FoWF will not be able to continue into the future without some sort of support staff, which would affect all of the proposals. In other words, some change will happen; the question is what change would be best.
 
This meeting is to begin the process of evaluating these proposals. Ken Hartman, head of the Regional Service Center for White Flint, will be there to discuss one option; I believe others will discuss the other options.
 
I urge you all to attend the October 24 meeting.
 
Barnaby Zall
Co-Chair for Business

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