Wednesday, April 9, 2014

White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee Testimony on FY15 Operating Budget

The following testimony is from the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee to the County Council concerning the 2015 fiscal year operating budget. This testimony was given on April 9th, 2014:

Good afternoon, President Rice and Councilmembers.  My name is Francine Waters and I am presenting this testimony as Chair of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee (WFDAC) was established by the County Council to:

•        Advise County departments on public services in the White Flint Sector Plan area,
•        Coordinate activities that promote and advance business interests and a sense of sense of community within the area,
•        Advise the County Executive and County Council on the eventual establishment of an Urban District.
The Committee is focused on accomplishing the tasks before us and greatly appreciates the support provided by the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.  With their help, we have completed several initial tasks, including:
•        Developed a retail/restaurant directory
•        Created a map of development projects (which has been viewed more than 18,000 times in the past year.)
•        Drafted a history of the White Flint area.
Other short range projects, which will enhance & improve the White Flint Business district, while leading towards our long range goal of the establishing an urban district, are in progress:
•        A beautification pilot in which property owners will improve the appearance of Rockville Pike.  This builds on the existing weekend maintenance crew - managed by BCC Regional Services Center and the Department of Corrections - which has done an outstanding job in “cleaning up” White Flint. 
•        Establishing a single destination portal for the “business district” which contains retail, housing, events, and development activity information.
•        A review of management and funding options for a future Urban Services District.
We greatly appreciate the $20,000 in funds you provided in the FY14 budget which makes these projects possible.
We believe that much can be accomplished with a modest investment of public funds. 
In this spirit, we are requesting a modest increase ($75,000) in the FY15 budget for the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center for the following needs that will improve the appearance and sense of community in White Flint:
•        Development of White Flint streetscape guidelines, perhaps through an Urban Land Institute Technical Assistance Panel ($20,000).  Urban streetscape standards have yet to be developed.  This funding will help create standards for lanterns, benches, and sidewalks in the “in between” blocks that connect anticipated development.
•        Additional contract support for promotional activities and coordination of maintenance activities. ($35,000)  These funds will help improve the engagement of local business and residents, promote existing activities and events, and enhanced maintenance needs.
•        Spot improvements to the appearance of the Public Right-of-Way. ($20,000) 
The members of the WFDAC are happy to serve the County by representing the views and concerns of the communities of White Flint.  We look forward to continuing to advise the County Executive and County Council in FY15.
Thank you for considering our testimony.