Archives May 2018

At Large County Council Candidate Answers to our Question on Alcohol Privatization

This week we have embarked on a project to share with you the answers to the questionnaire we gave to the at-large council seat candidates. The June 26th primary is a critical one for Montgomery County, and there are four at-large County Council seats up for grabs.  There are more than three dozen candidates vying for your vote. We  hope their responses help you to be a more educated voter.

Today we share the responses to our question, “Do you believe that alcohol sales should be privatized or continue to be managed by the county government and why? How does your decision affect the White Flint area?” (Please note that we’ll change the random order of the responses for each question.)


Seth Grimes

The county should terminate its monopoly on alcohol sales and allow private distribution and sales. This step will create business opportunity in the White Flint area and lower costs and expand options for restaurants in the area. I would not privatize Montgomery County’s own alcohol sales. The DLC would have to compete with private vendors.


Jill Ourtman-Fouse

Residents, restaurants and businesses have advocated vigorously for new options, despite improvements made by new management. To respond to this strongly felt community feedback, the County should begin exploring a transition. Several years ago, the Bureau of Revenue Estimates said that we could have an additional $193.7 million in economic activity for the county if privatization were fully implemented. But first state laws would need to change regarding licensure. There are many ways to slice this apple, but we would need to do a gradual phase out to move forward, starting with spirits, for example, with wholesalers competing for licenses. We would need to ensure current employees had priority at positions — which they would be likely be most qualified for due to experience. We could also continue to lease current facilities for the warehouses. The county could set the prices for new licenses and exploring piggy backing off the state alcohol taxes with a phased-out tax collected in Montgomery County by CBDs; however, increased sales could make up for the loss of revenue resulting from exiting the business ourselves. White Flint would benefit through stronger restaurant and nightlife-related businesses, helping to bring energy to the area.


Gabe Albornoz

The County has made numerous changes to the DLC, from hiring a new director and top tier management from private industry to modernizing its warehouse, instituting new pricing and distribution, and adopting best practices from private industry. I believe the new management should be given an opportunity to improve performance before any attempt is made to privatize a taxpayer asset that spins off approximately $30 million in profit that funds schools, libraries and other County services.


Ashwani Jain

In my opinion, is not whether or not the DLC should be privatized; instead, it is how can we make the DLC run better, and how can we create an economic ecosystem that benefits both our county employees, our business owners, and our residents. If elected, I would work in collaboration with the DLC and our local restaurant owners to figure out how we can continue improving customer service, warehouse operations and timely delivery of products. I also believe we should provide more choice in the local alcohol market and provide our restaurants with the ability to compete against markets like D.C. and Arlington. One solution could be to revisit the 2015 council-supported bill that would have allowed private distributors to sell certain “speciality” products such as craft beer and fine wine that the DLC does not regularly stock. This could offer a feasible compromise that protects our jobs while strengthening our local economy.


Richard Gottfried

If the county was discussing getting into the liquor business today, we probably should have not. HOWEVER, we are in it, THEREFORE, the issue is: Montgomery County nets 30 million dollars which covers the 100 million dollars in bond issue debt interest payments which allows the rating company to allow Montgomery County to keep its AAA bond rating.

Regarding the local bars and restaurants, Montgomery County has heard the problems with our small businesses with the County controlling the liquor and MC should fix the problem and properly served its customers! MC cannot just get rid of the net income without getting rid of the $100 million dollars in bonds.


Will Jawando

Liquor control is a responsibility of local and state government, as determined by the 21st Amendment to the Constitution repealing Prohibition. I have not yet seen a “privatization” plan which would meet my standards of a) protecting the jobs of the current county workers employed by the DLC, or b) replacing the loss of revenue in the county budget. The issues related to service, quality of stock, cleanliness of stores, responsiveness to licensed businesses that sell alcohol, that are used as reasons to call for privatization, I believe can be addressed to make the DLC a better service while retaining the actual function — controlling the sale of beverage alcohol for the benefit of public health.


Melissa McKenna

I do not believe County government should be in the liquor business, however, we have come to rely on this revenue and will need time to wean ourselves off of it. It’s not just the $30M annual revenue but the ~$100M in bonds that this dedicated funding stream guarantees. Incorporating that $100M in bonds into general obligation bonds would represent nearly a third of our bonding capacity under our spending affordability guidelines. The way forward with the Department of Liquor Control will be by working with our microbreweries, established brewery-themed pubs, and restaurants to address product choice, availability, timeliness, and reliability with better customer service. Create competition with the County as one wholesale option. Work with distributors so that companies like Dogfish Head won’t have to buy their own brews back from themselves. Encourage growth of microbreweries in the manner that makes sense for them. For White Flint this will be more wine choices for Seasons 52, greater craft beer availability for Owen’s Ordinary, and greater variety for specialty cocktails at Pinstripes.

 


Robert Dyer

I absolutely believe we should privatize sales and end the County liquor monopoly. This is critical to the success of White Flint, because the archaic DLC monopoly is adding higher costs to the already-narrow profit margins of restaurant and bar owners there. It’s also surprising to young professionals, who we want to live in the Pike District, that they cannot buy Bud Light or a nice bottle of wine at all chain grocery, drug and convenience stores. My opponents support keeping the government monopoly – remember that on Election Day!


Steve Solomon

 

I used to think “why does the county have this antiquated system where they control alcohol sales”.  But after beginning to campaign and run for office and reading more about it, I see that it makes the county $30 million a year, and we have 240 employees that work for the DLC.  The system does seem to work for the county, so I would keep it managed by the county.  Don’t know how that affects the White Flint area specifically.


 

Michele Riley

I strongly believe that alcohol sales should be privatized. There is no reason for Montgomery County to be in the business of selling alcohol. The decision to privatize alcohol sales would encourage more restaurants to open in the county in general, and certainly in the White Flint area, thereby helping create a sense of place in the Pike District/White Flint area. Consumers and private sector businesses have been faced with a lack of choice and reliance on an antiquated and inefficient distribution system for too long. Privatizing our liquor monopoly will allow Montgomery County businesses to level the playing field with competitors in other jurisdictions who have the benefit of choice in alcohol purchasing.


Hoan Dang

At this time, I do not support efforts to privatize the Montgomery County Retail and Wholesale Division of the Department of Liquor Control (DLC). I believe the reforms made by the County Executive Ike Leggett, which included the management change at the DLC, are sufficient for the DLC to continue as a public entity. At this time, with looming budget deficits, our County cannot afford to lose the $30 million in revenue that the DLC brings to County reserves. However, we should revisit the issue of privatizing the DLC during better economic times in the County.


Neil Greenberger

I am familiar with the inside of the alcohol business, and despite what some people think, it is not a business that easily runs itself without numerous (but independent demands, issues and problems).  The Montgomery County DLS has been a disaster for decades more for its management than for the program itself. For the past 15 months, a new director with great business experience has been transforming the DLC to make it more efficient for retail stores, restaurants and customers.  Problems are declining.  I want to see how this real management continues to impact the program under his leadership.  And in the end, the program produces more than $30 million in revenue for the County. Not one person who wants the program abolished has produced a credible plan to replace that revenue.  The alternative would be to raise property taxes to make up for that large whole, and this county is not ready to do that.


Marilyn Balcombe

The County should not be in the alcohol business regardless of the revenue produced. Using the revenue as an argument would lead to the recommendation of a County monopoly on the sale of any commodity (gas, cigarettes, medical marijuana, cough syrup). It just doesn’t make sense. The privatization discussion began because the DLC was in a serious state of disrepair with ancient inventory and distribution systems, as well as terrible customer service. While there has been significant improvement with the new Director, the rationale for the monopoly is still flawed. The biggest negative impact on the County’s control on the sale of alcohol has been the poor customer service received by restaurants. I have heard countless stories of lost or damaged product, late shipments, or not having standard products in stock. The direct impact of privatization on White Flint would be better service to restaurants, resulting in better experiences for the ultimate consumers.


Evan Glass

We need to do a better job supporting our restaurants and expanding after-work entertainment options in White Flint. In 2014 I wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post called for an end to the county’s liquor monopoly. My remedy was to allow restaurateurs the direct sale of wine, beer and spirits. Here is the op-ed:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/breaking-montgomery-countys-monopolyon-booze/2016/01/18/515ead94-bbde-11e5-99f3-184bc379b12d_story.html

Of the $30 million in revenue that the monopoly provides the county budget, my policy will only reduce that figure by $2-3 million. I am confident that this gesture will increase economic activity within the restaurant and hospitality industry, thereby recovering the minor budgetary costs.

If we want to encourage more nightlife in the White Flint area, we to provide assistance to our small businesses.


Paul Geller

Until we can find a way to replace the $30,000,000 in annual revenues we in Montgomery County gain by the current system, we should stick with it.  What often gets lost in the argument is that this $30,000,000 leverages more than $100,000,000 in bonds.  Should we move to another system, this must be taken into account.  There is no denying we have an unusual system in place.  That said, changes have been made in the last year and a half that have made the existing system work better.  A new leader from private industry is now at the helm of the Department of Liquor Control and, by all accounts, is doing a superb job of addressing long standing concerns and complaints about service, variety, and delivery.  According to the DataMontgomery website, 98% of items are shipped on time and intact.  This is fairly remarkable considering you are dealing with products that are mostly in glass containers that have travelled along pothole infested roads…another topic I am eager to take on.  Maintaining the status quo will affect the White Flint area by not turning it into a cash and carry paradise where liquor stores dot the landscape, loiterers abound, and crime can follow.  Montgomery County has a relatively low rate of DUI arrests.  The reason often cited is the way liquor is distributed.  I think we owe it to ourselves to see if we can have the new leader of the DLC get us where we need to be in terms of addressing the concerns of our businesses and residents.


Rosemary Arkoian

I believe alcohol sales should be privatized.  The govt. shouldn’t have a monopoly—competition is good and healthy for all.


Bill Conway

If we were starting over I would not support creation of an alcohol distribution monopoly by the County.  However, we have to take the world as we find it, and I do not support privatization of the Department of Liquor Control (DLC) for the following reasons:

The DLC provides $30 million in net revenue to the County each year with the likelihood of substantial increases as it becomes better managed. At a time when the County’s needs far outstrip its revenues, retaining DLC revenues is important.

The DLC provide 350 good union jobs that I do not want to see lost.

Getting rid of the DLC monopoly would presumably allow sales by store chains which would put small mom and pop stores that depend upon beer and wine sales out of business.

The historic complaints about the DLC have not related to price but rather to product selection, reliability of service to licensees (e.g. restaurants), and customer experience in County retail stores. The DLC’s performance in these areas has improved dramatically because for the first time it is being run as a business rather than a government bureaucracy.

I do not believe that my position on the DLC affects White Flint more than other areas of the County


Hans Reimer

White Flint needs successful restaurants. If the DLC is a barrier to restaurants then we must reform or privatize it. I took the lead at the Council on DLC reform. After my committee’s pressure all senior managers of the DLC were replaced with managers who have industry expertise. Today I am not hearing complaints from restaurants but I will continue to monitor. I proposed partial privatization of the DLC in the state legislature but my plan was defeated by a few advocates pushing loudly for total privatization (“End the Monopoly”) and a few advocates of the status quo. However, reforms that I have successfully proposed, including relaxing food/alcohol ratios, extending hours, allowing breweries to be their own distributor, and economic development incentives, zoning, and the like, have resulted directly in the flowering of a marvelous local brewery scene.

Next for me: Montgomery County can and should be home to a strong local winery industry. Additionally, we need beer and wine in the grocery store, which requires state law to change. That restriction is not from the DLC, it comes from small private retailers that want to protect themselves from competition.

At Large County Council Candidate Answers to our Questions

This week we embark on a project to share with you the answers to the questionnaire we gave to the at-large council seat candidates. The June 26th primary is a critical one for Montgomery County, and there are four at-large County Council seats up for grabs.  There are more than three dozen candidates vying for your vote. We  hope their responses help you to be a more educated voter.

Today we share the responses to our question, “What are your top three infrastructure projects for the White Flint area and how would you fund and implement those projects?” (Please note that we’ll change the random order of the responses for each question.)


Marilyn Balcombe

The first priority for the area is Montrose Parkway East, a master planned road that should be built given that development of White Flint assumed the road would be completed. The County Council recently agreed on a compromise to fund the road with a one year delay. The ultimate completion will rest with the new County Executive and Council. Another priority is the second White Flint Metro entrance. The new entrance was part of the White Flint Sector plan. The new north entrance to the White Flint Metro station will be closer to Pike & Rose, which will integrate Metro with the community. A third priority would dedicated funding of Metro to ensure that safety and reliability of system. Dedicated metro funding will come from the State. If Amazon were to come to White Flint, Montrose Pkwy and the new Metro station would most likely be done as part of the infrastructure package proposed in the Amazon bid. If not, funding would go through the CIP process in competition with other DOT priorities.


Rosemary Arkoian

I’d need to study this matter more thoroughly, once I’m elected.  I’d give some tax incentives to help fund and implement projects.


Evan Glass

My top three infrastructure priorities for White Flint include: a second Metro entrance, introduction of Bus Rapid Transit along Rt 355, and a better integration for pedestrian and bicycle routes.


Richard Gottfried

Increase the usage of the MARC trains to run all day by increasing scheduled service. The passengers by paying for their train ticket, would pay for the cost of increasing scheduled service.

Research the cost to build either a tunnel under Rockville Pike or a trolley system that services the White Flint area.

Gather information from the White Flint neighborhood that identifies the streets that are causing backups in the neighborhood for residents to be able to move in and out of their neighborhoods. Implement simple solutions to fix congested areas more efficiently through smart traffic signals, stop signs, yield signs, green right turn or left turn signals, etc.


Paul Geller

The three top infrastructure projects in the White Flint area are: 1) Working with Lord & Taylor and the owners of the former White Flint Mall property to find a mutually beneficial arrangement so we can start redeveloping the property as soon as possible.  What has been done in a courtroom, we should do over dinner.  We need to sit down with both parties and work out a proper compromise.  Possible cost would be arranging for a new property for Lord & Taylor to locate to.  2) Making sure there will be enough school capacity to accommodate all new residents.  This is something Melissa McKenna, a fellow At-Large candidate, and I have already worked with our PTA colleagues to address.  As part of the very successful group we were part of, The Next Steps Reps, we successfully advocated to the County Council to make sure all new development pays its fair share of the cost of constructing new school seats.  In the past this amount was approximately 95%.  Thanks in good part to our efforts, it is now 120%.  A talk Melissa and I had with then Council President Nancy Floreen, and testimony we and our PTA colleagues gave to the entire County Council were key to making this possible.  3) Making sure mass transportation options as well as parking are convenient and readily available.  The introduction of the BRT on 355 should be helpful.  That said, we should consider making BRT more upscale by adding amenities such as USB recharging ports in all seats, onboard monitors that display estimated time to next stops, and nicer seats.  This enhancement would be financed by advertising in the buses and at stations along the line.  Ads on screens could be geared toward the businesses near each stop.


Jill Ourtman-Fouse

Bus Rapid Transit on Rockville Pike is essential to moving people while reducing reliance on driving. I’m also looking forward to construction of the parking garage that will allow the Recreation Department and Parks Department to convert the parking lot at Wall Park into green space that can also serve as a center of activity for outdoor recreation and social events. A second Metro entrance and/or an additional MARC station also would be helpful to realizing the vision of the White Flint plan. None of these projects is very expensive compared to the $9 billion the state is planning to spend on improvements to the Beltway and I-270, for which there are other less costly options, and these projects all promise to deliver economic development benefits as well as improvements to quality of life in the White Flint area.


Melissa McKenna

My top priority is getting an elementary school in the former White Flint mall site. Wall Park and a new fire station are also very high priorities. Funding for capital projects that these all entail is a perennial challenge. For schools, the state must come through with school funding from casino gambling revenue. Paul Geller and I have been pursuing casino gambling revenue funding for education for several years now. We most recently testified on March 8th in Annapolis on HB1697/SB1122 in favor of the “lockbox” to ensure that gambling revenue supplements current education formula funding. The development of the White Flint Sector plan will influence the timing of Wall Park and a fire station and present an opportunity for public private partnerships on these projects. Perhaps even for that elementary school.


Bill Conway

There are many important infrastructure projects needed for the White Flint area including addition of a new entrance to the White Flint Metro stop, improved bikeways and pedestrian walkways and creation of open space. To my mind, the three most important projects are the restructuring of Rockville Pike into a walkable boulevard that would accommodate BRT, the construction of a new network of side streets that would improve traffic flows and access, and the construction of a new MARC station. All of these are fundamental to the way that White Flint would work in the future.  In particular, if better track access could be structured with CSX the addition of a new MARC station could be transformational for commuting traffic in the region. I would pay for these improvements through a combination of revenues from the special property tax district that has been put in place for the White Flint area, funds from the County budgeted through the Capital Improvements Program, and funds from the State of Maryland contributed as part of the Amazon incentive package if White Flint is chosen by Amazon.


Will Jawando

Bicycle and Pedestrian Lanes This is a county-wide priority, as part of extending alternatives to personal automobile use. I believe White Flint (as well as Silver Spring, Kensington and Wheaton) is a prime area for the development of a network of dedicated, protected lanes for walkers and bikers — well-lit, with footbridges where necessary and state-of-the-art traffic light management. I see the Western Workaround as part of that priority to make our streets about moving people, and not just moving automobiles.

A New Wall Park As part of the mixed-use re-development of the White Flint/Pike District, I’d make the new Wall Park a priority for my time on the County Council. I believe we must protect and promote our open, green space in the county, and make these spaces available and functional even as we protect that open space. The plans for Wall Park’s new garage allow us to rip up the current impervious-surface parking lot and replace that with the proposed Great Lawn is a great example of that.

White Flint Fire Station As we re-develop our aging infrastructure and improve our neighborhoods with higher-density development, we have to maintain our public safety infrastructure. That includes completing work on the White Flint Fire Station on time, with the equipment needed to better navigate the new urban streets we want to see in the White Flint area.


Ashwani Jain

While White Flint was originally proposed as a urban center, it has still a long way to go away from it’s slightly more suburban and car-oriented feel. As such, my top three infrastructure projects are: (1) Expanding the BRT system to include Rockville Pike; (2) Making the White Flint Metro Station more accessible; and (3) Reducing school overcrowding. Specifically, for the BRT system, I believe we should also create reversible bus-only lanes. This removes the need to create two separate bus lanes on Rockville Pike, helps reduce speeding (thus making it safer for pedestrians and bikers) and, of course, increases continued access for those trying to commute to White Flint. For increasing access to the White Flint Metro Station, I believe we need to create a northern entrance to the station and create protected sidewalks that are well lit. For reducing school overcrowding, we must be thoughtful about setting aside specific land and space for new school construction. Each of these projects is an investment that can help retain our tax base while also expand it, thus strengthening our local economy


Gabe Albornoz

Second entrance at White Flint metro – this is already being funded through the County CIP.

Western Workaround – this actually involves a number of road projects and should be a combination of County CIP and White Flint District Tax funding.

Wall Park and garage – this is being funded through the County’s CIP.


Hoan Dang 

My top three infrastructure projects for White Flint would be.

a) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), funded with existing capital budget for BRT, b) Northern Entrance to the White Flint Metro station, funded with new dedicated funding source for Metro, and c) Montrose Parkway East, funded with additional capital budget resulting from Amazon HQ2 locating to White Flint area


Hans Reimer

My overarching priority is rebuilding 355 as a multimodal corridor, relying upon:

High functioning WMATA, Local and long distance buses operating in a dedicated lane, Protected bicycle lane network (as I requested MNCPPC to plan), Walkable streetscapes. All of these projects will be built through a combination of the county and state capital budgets and private property owner responsibilities (funded as development obligations or through the tax district).


Michele Riley

Now that a dedicated funding source has been agreed to for WMATA Metro, which will help provide critical funding for capital improvements to the transportation backbone for the region, the next top three infrastructure projects for the White Flint area are:  Finishing the White Flint West Workaround, providing a second entrance to the White Flint Metro and providing a new White Flint Fire Station.

The White Flint West Workaround is funded from special obligation bond issues and ultimately Special Taxing District revenues.  The debt service will be financed with Special Taxing District revenues. The White Flint Metro second entrance could be funded with a combination of State funds, GO Bonds and Special Taxing District revenues. The Fire Station would be funded through GO Bonds with debt service financed with Fire Tax District funds.


Seth Grimes

1) Create new parks, open spaces, and public use spaces, 2) Create a new transportation infrastructure including White Flint Metrorail station entrance (via reallocation of funding from the Montrose Parkway East and 3) Extension of the Rockville Pike (MD 355) Boulevard concept to the city limits of Rockville with bus rapid transit (BRT) (per the White Flint 2 Sector Plan).

Funding sources will include development impact fees and developer-created amenities, state and federal transportation funding, and county capital expenditures.


Robert Dyer

Montrose Parkway East, MARC station, North Entrance to White Flint Metro station. I will work to change our business climate over the long term to attract more high-wage jobs and revenue. But in the short term, I will vote to cancel all spending on BRT, and transfer that money to Montrose Parkway East. I want to meet with CSX to discuss joint economic opportunities along their Metropolitan Branch northwest of Rockville that could fund the third track and WF station we need.


Neil Greenberger

The county and state must work together to complete the Montrose Parkway. This half-completed major road cannot be left the way the current County Council envisions. The funding is available in the County budget and the new Council should reverse decisions recently made by the current Council to remove that funding.

Future development plans in the White Flint / North Bethesda / South Rockville area must include provisions for road improvements, realistic approaches to future school capacity and include accurate needs for parking spaces that will support the businesses that will be included in these mixed-use projects.

Development of all types is needed for our county, but future County Councils cannot continue to approve development plans with the provisions that infrastructure needs will be figured out later.  The school clusters in the White Flint area are already near capacity.  The County Executive, the Council and the Board of Education must start planning now (it takes about six years to plan for a new school) to address how the area will address school capacity needs for the next generation of this area.


Steve Solomon

1) The northern entrance to White Flint metro, 2)  The Montrose Parkway East plan should be started now, not in 3 years, and 3)  More bike and pedestrian paths. Funded and implemented in the CIP

 

 

Belated (but still great) pics from the recent walking tour of White Flint

Yeah, the tour was two weeks ago, but there’s been so much news we haven’t had a chance to post the photos from the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s walking tour of White Flint.  We loved listening to Chris Conklin from MCDOT, Councilmember Roger Berliner, Ken Hartman from the Bethesda Regional Services Center, and Mickey Papilon from Pike and Rose teach a large crowd of walkers about the ever-changing, wonderful Pike District/White Flint area. Friends of White Flint was excited to be a part of this successful event.

See Pepco’s plans for its new Nebel Street Substation

Pepco is building a new substation at the corner of Marinelli Road and Nebel Street to ensure the Pike District and surrounding areas have the power they need. Here are the slides Pepco presented to the White Flint Implementation Committee that show its plans for this new substation. (Click each slide to enlarge.)

Last Chance Today! Important! Tell Metro To End the Grosvenor Turnback

Metro seeks feedback on alternatives to increase service on the Red Line between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Shady Grove stations. This is your chance to tell Metro to end the Grosvenor Turnback, and it’s really important that you take Metro’s survey today, May 21st. Choose Option A and/or B.

Currently during weekday rush hours, Red Line trains operate every 8 minutes between Shady Grove and Glenmont, with additional trains between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Silver Spring providing service every four minutes between these stations.

Metro is considering the elimination of trains that “turn back” at Grosvenor during rush hours and extend all Red Line train service to Shady Grove instead. This would provide additional service to White Flint, Twinbrook, Rockville and Shady Grove stations. Metro wants customers to provide feedback on three alternatives under consideration.

Option A: Full elimination of the Grosvenor “turn back.” All Red Line trains that currently turn back at Grosvenor-Strathmore would extend service to Shady Grove. Trains would operate every 4 minutes between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Shady Grove.

Option B: Partial elimination of the Grosvenor “turn back.” Half of Red Line trains that currently turn back at Grosvenor-Strathmore would extend service to Shady Grove. Trains would operate on average every 5 minutes between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Shady Grove.

Option C: No change. Red Line trains would continue to operate every 8 minutes between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Shady Grove.

Give metro your opinion by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 21, 2018 by completing an online survey. The survey takes a minute or two, but it’s very important that Metro hears from many, many folks that it’s time to turn back the Grosvenor turnback.

Additional information can also be found at wmata.com/redline.

 

 

A wonderful … if wet … Bike to Work Day 2018 at Pike & Rose

Be part of the Planning Department’s Placemaking Event at the Randolph Hills Shopping Center

The Montgomery County Planning Department invites the public to a kick-off meeting to launch the White Flint Placemaking effort in the Randolph Hills area. Hosted in partnership with the Better Block Foundation, this evening event will feature a keynote presentation about community placemaking by Better Blocks CEO Jason Roberts.

The meeting will be held Wed. May 30th, 2018, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at 4840 Boiling Brook Pkwy, Rockville, MD 20852. (The vacant restaurant to the left of Kosher Mart in the Randolph Hill Shopping Center.)

Attendees will share thoughts and ideas on how placemaking could be used as a tool to build community in the Randolph Hills area.

This Better Block effort aims to bring together residents, local business owners, parents, teachers and students of nearby schools, and representatives of civic associations for a community-oriented placemaking event in October 2018.

Learn more at http://montgomeryplanning.org/planning/placemaking/white-flint-placemaking/

The Better Block Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that educates, equips, and empowers communities and their leaders to reshape and reactivate built environments to promote the growth of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods.  More information on the Better Block Foundation at BetterBlock.Org.

RSVP FOR EVENT

How would the Candidates for County Executive do Placemaking in the Pike District?

This is the third in our series sharing the Friends of White Flint questionnaire responses from the candidates for County Executive. (You can read the first article focusing on top infrastructure projects for the White Flint area here and the second article on alcohol privatization here.)  We continue to vary the order of the answers to be fair to all.

The June 26th primary is a critical one, and we want voters to be as educated as possible about the candidates’ views on issues that matter to the White Flint/Pike District area. Find out about the candidates and don’t forget to vote in next month’s primary.

We asked the candidates, “Placemaking is the art of creating public spaces that promote people’s health and happiness. Placemaking connect us to one another and creates a sense of community. The White Flint/Pike District/North Bethesda area lacks a sense of place. How would you do placemaking, in our neighborhood? 


Bill Frick

We reached out to Bill Frick twice but he did not respond to our questionnaire.


David Blair

Given that North Bethesda was recently named as one of the best places to live in Maryland, White Flint is doing a great job creating a community with a great sense of place. As County Executive, I would like to further the success of this area by focusing on strengthening relationships with the business community, ensuring our schools are properly funded, and addressing our traffic issues.

To promote a sense of community, we should support our restaurant and business community. I’ve met with several business owners in the food industry and it’s clear we need to make it easier to sustainably “buy local” here. We need to invest in our county’s unique agricultural sector. I’ll conduct an aggressive marketing campaign to encourage businesses to procure more goods and services from businesses in the County. Des Moines, Iowa embarked on a similar initiative and discovered shifting 5% of spending to local vendors could generate more than $1 billion in economic benefit and as many as 6,500 jobs. If they can do it, so can we.


Marc Elrich

The Planning Board has to hold future development to providing the amenities envisioned in the plan. The pretty pictures only materialize if the developers build as the community envisioned. Design and placemaking are under the Planning Board’s control. The county government has to deliver the promised infrastructure, including elements that are our responsibility in the creation of these spaces.


George Leventhal

This is occurring already, with the emergence of restaurants, entertainment, improved pedestrian and bicycle access. A second White Flint Metro entrance, closer to Pike and Rose would also be important. I will work to realize the vision propounded in the White Flint I and II master plans, for a walkable, livable, mixed use community with employment, entertainment, housing and shopping.


Roger Berliner

This has been the overarching goal of the plan from Day 1. During my tenure, we have not had a Plan come before the Council that had such a cohesive group of community leaders with a shared vision – a vision of a revitalized White Flint that would become a desirable place to work, live, and play.

To create a sense of place you need mixed use development – commercial and residential coexisting; pedestrian and bike friendly infrastructure; great retail, restaurants and entertainment venues; transit access; active parks where people can gather and play; and streets that can be closed for special events. Placemaking can also be enhanced by utilization of a common logo, consistent streetscaping, wayfinding signage, and a strong Business Improvement District. As county executive, I would invest in the Pike District and ensure essential components of the 2010 Sector Plan are realized. I would work with all the stakeholders to ensure the potential of this area is maximized for the betterment of the community and the county.


Rose Krasnow

Placemaking is a people-centered approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces.  Ideally, it is a collaborative process that strengthens the connection between people and the places they share and maximizes a particular community’s assets.  When done well, placemaking can promote the health and well-being of residents.

The White Flint Plan recognized that, as densities increase, placemaking becomes ever more important.  Relocating the surface parking lot in front of the aquatic center so that Wall Park can truly become a park, and building a new recreation center on the site, are important placemaking components.   A sizable civic green in the heart of White Flint will provide a gathering space for activities and celebrations.  As stated earlier, the ultimate design of this space should be determined through a collaborative process with residents.  Individual developments will need to include well-designed plazas, pocket parks, and green streets, similar to those provided in Pike and Rose. Finally, the recreation loop will provide connectivity among these amenities, further enhancing placemaking in the area.

How much do we love this new mid-block crosswalk?

Thank you, MCDOT, for our beautiful brand new mid-block crosswalk on Marinelli between the Conference Center and the Grand/Wisconsin buildings!  We’ve been working with MCDOT for a year to create this crosswalk, and we couldn’t be happier to see it installed. It’s a boon for walking convenience and safety.  (Of course — be careful and be sure no cars are zooming through as you cross.)

There’s more pedestrian improvements to come through our Pike District Pedestrian Safety Campaign, so stay tuned!