Tuesday, December 6, 2016

White Flint Committee supports BID legislation

The following letter was provided to the Montgomery Country Delegation, the Honorable Nancy King and the Honorable Shane Robinson, by the the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee on December 5th, 2016. 


Dear Senator King and Delegate Robinson,

I am writing to you on behalf of the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee to express the Committee’s strong support for MC 12-17, to alter the approval requirements to create and expand a Business Improvement District (BID) in Montgomery County. We thank Delegate Will Smith for his leadership on this important legislation.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee was charged by the County Executive and County Council to make recommendations on the eventual establishment of an urban services district in the White Flint Sector Plan Area, also known as the Pike District. Our committee includes local residents, businesses, and property owners.

After reviewing the tools available to accomplish this, we believe BIDs are a proven model to supplement existing government services and enhance public safety, marketing and events, neighborhood beautification, and infrastructure. BIDs are the future of economic development and have swept across the nation in the last few decades. BIDs are successful because they place these important services in the hands of local stakeholders. Unfortunately, the current 80% approval requirement makes forming a BID a daunting task and none have been formed in the state since the original legislation in 2010.

The White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee strongly supports MC 12-17 because it will facilitate the formation of BIDs in Montgomery County and provide the County a real mechanism to compete with D.C. and Virginia in terms of economic development, marketing, and place-making.

MC 12-17 changes the approval requirement to 51% of individual property owners AND 51% of the assessed value within the proposed district. This lower requirement puts us in line with BIDs in the District of Columbia and Virginia. Additionally, the bill allows rental residential properties – a commercial use - to benefit from BID services.

In addition, we respectfully request two edits to improve the governance provisions in the legislation. The legislation currently specifies that a BID would have five (5) Board members, with three (3) Board members required for a quorum. We think this should be revised to allow flexibility in determining the appropriate size of a Board based upon specific circumstances, as follows:

1. Sec. 12-605(B)(1) currently provides that a Board “consists of five members.” (See Page 4, Line 22). We would propose that a Board “consists of a minimum of five members.”

2. Sec. 12-605(D)(1) currently provides, “Three voting members of the Board are a quorum,” (See Page 5, Line 3). We would propose, “A majority of members of a Board are a quorum.”

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Thomas D. Murphy
Chair

Robert M. Schwarzbart


In Memory Of

Robert Schwarzbart


The Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory board is saddened by the passing of Board member Bob Schwarzbart, who passed away on Friday, November 18, 2016, with his loving wife Sandra at his side. He is also survived by wonderful cousins and friends.

He was born and raised in New York City. A graduate of NYU and Brooklyn Law School, he served in the U.S. Army for two years prior to a 44 year legal career, mostly at the National Labor Relations Board; assuming progressively more responsible positions, including Assistant Regional Attorney. He was very active in the community.

He was appointed as Administrative Law Judge at the Board in Washington DC in 1975 and proudly served in that position for 27 years until he retired in 2002. Then he greatly enjoyed participating in local community and government activities, including 13 years as an elected member of the Friendship Heights Village Council. His ever enduring love of books and literature is legendary.

"Let his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life"

Annual Zoo Lights

Zoo Lights

 The Annual ZooLights exhibit is open late through the holidays so make sure to stop by with your families!

The National Zoo's annual exhibit of 500,000 lights, which decorate zoo walkways, trees and buildings and in sculptures featuring elephants, giant pandas and other popular zoo residents, is open 5-9 pm through January 1. The Kids' Farm, Reptile Discovery Center, Small Mammal House, Think Tank (orangutans) and Great Cats exhibit also are open in the evening. Free, but there are charges for tubing, train rides and carousel rides. Limited parking is available for $22. 

Resultado de imagen para zoolights washington dc

Friday, December 2, 2016

Local Writing Contest!

Writing Contest


The Bethesda Urban Partnership and Bethesda Magazine have partnered to honor local writers at the Bethesda Literary Festival, April 21-23, 2017. All essay and short story contest winners will be published on the Bethesda Urban Partnership and Bethesda Magazine websites and honored at a special event during the festival. The deadline to apply for the essay contest is Friday, January 7, and Friday, January 22 for the short story contest. There are separate contests for adults and high school students and monetary awards in each category.


You can find more information at the Bethesda magazine Website!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Minutes and Agendas


Looking for the minutes and agendas of the WWMCCAB and the WFDAC? Look no further! Just click the link below.  

 here for minutes and agendas



BID's

What is a BID?

A Business/Community Improvement District (BID) is a public/private partnership in which property and business owners collaborate to maintain, develop and promote their local commercial district. There are over 1,000 BID’s across the country. They are organized, funded and operated in a wide variety of ways.

How does BID work?

A BID delivers services in the public and commercial areas of commercial districts. While subject to some government oversight, a BID is successful because it can operate like a private entity to deliver these services in a timely, responsive and cost-effective manner. The BID’s principal stakeholders are property and business owners in the district. These stakeholders have a direct say in the BID budget and business plan.
The most successful BID’s benefit from a high degree of private sector participation. BID’s are locally funded through a wide variety of formulas that include assessments against stakeholders within a district.
*New Orleans created the first BID in the U.S. in 1974

What services can a BID provide?

1.      Safety and Information - Staff on the street help direct visitors, and assist police.
2.      Streetscaping - Uniform enhancements to with landscaping and unique improvements to create a sense of place and branding of the community.
3.      Cleaning and Maintenance - Routine cleaning, street sweeping, trash collection, landscaping maintenance to ensure the area is free of debris.
4.      Marketing/Special Events - Let the neighborhood, region, and visitors know what’s special about the area through signature events, a destination website, and social media.
5.      Business Assistance/Development - Help small businesses and property owners solve problems. Resource for market information.
6.      Government Navigation - Assist with resources available through various County and community agencies.

What is the White Flint Development Advisory Committee?

The White Flint DAC was established by the County Council to advise County departments on public services in the Pike District, and to coordinate activities that promote business interests and a sense of community. The White Flint DAC is also specifically tasked with transmitting to the County Executive by 2017 the committee’s recommendations for a BID or similar entity to be established within White Flint Sector Plan area, and possibly within White Flint 2 Sector Plan area as well. 

Eventually, the Pike District BID could provide maintenance of streetscape and related amenities; provide additional public amenities such as plantings, seating and public art; promote the commercial and residential interests of the area; and coordinate area marketing community activities.

Examples of Local BIDs
·         Washington D.C. BIDs - www.dcbidcouncil.org
·         RosslynBID - www.rosslynva.org
·         Golden Triangle BID - www.goldentriangledc.otg
·         Bethesda Urban Partnership - www.bethesda.org

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Flying V Awesome-A-Thon: A 24 hour Flying V Fest





Awesome-A-Thon



First ever Flying V Theater Company Awesome-A-Thon: A 24  Flying V Fest


What

 24 straight hours of Flying V programming – past, present, future.

We are expanding our usual end of year festivities to a full TWENTY FOUR HOURS of Flying V programming – filled with staged readings, performances, podcast recordings, cabarets, a video game lounge, morning yoga set to 90s music, and more from Flying V’s past, present, and future!

We’ll also be announcing our Year 7 programming that day, and will have snacks and alcohol on sale at the venue. The entire event is a Suggested Donation of your choosing for admission.

We’ll be announcing the schedule over the coming month, so be on the lookout (and there are some hints in our image above.) You can stop by for an hour or the full 24, whenever you want without any reservation.  

When

Friday December 9th - Saturday December 10th 

10pm-10pm


Where 

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, MD
The Center is conveniently located adjacent to the Bethesda Metro Station, above a 1,000-space County parking garage.

Who
Those Attending
Cast Members from many of Flying V’s favorite productions over the years, as well as new faces to the company!  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2017 Maryland General Assembly



RSVP on Facebook - All are welcome
You are invited to:
2017 Maryland 
General Assembly 
Preview
Please come listen to our State elected representatives discuss the upcoming legislative season and future priorities, followed by your questions.
When
Monday, 11/21 
From 7pm to 9pm
Where
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, MD
The Center is conveniently located adjacent to the Bethesda Metro Station, above a 1,000-space County parking garage.
Who

Maryland General Assembly representatives from Districts 15, 16, 17 & 18:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bethesda Downtown Plan - Woodmont Triangle Action Group Testimony

The following is testimony from the Woodmont Triangle Action Group regarding the Bethesda Downtown Plan.  The testimony was delivered by WTAG member Any O’Hare to the County Council on October 20, 2016.  Full written testimony can be found here


Woodmont Triangle Action Group
 Statement Regarding the Bethesda Plan
October 20, 2016

Good evening Council Members. My name is Andy O’Hare and I am here on behalf of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group or WTAG. 

The WTAG was formed as an outgrowth to the Woodmont Triangle amendment to the 1994 Bethesda Sector plan, completed in 2006.  WTAG was tasked with reviewing development projects in the Triangle pursuant to the vision outlined in the sector plan amendment. 

We appreciate the Council’s leadership in encouraging the update to the 1994 Bethesda plan, now more than 20 years old.  There have been a lot of economic and demographic changes to Bethesda since the prior plan was conceived and a new Bethesda vision was necessary. 
                               
We offer the following recommendations regarding the new Plan:

1.      More Specifics on Plan Implementation are Necessary: There is a great deal of concern that the Plan does not address how the Plan elements will be implemented and specifically how they will be funded.  This is worrisome because street and infrastructure improvements included in the prior plan still have not been made 20 years later.  The Plan needs to address how short term and long term improvements will be funded through the capital improvement program (CIP). 

2.      All Parks and Public Space Maintenance Should be Coordinated: The new plan envisions a number of new public parks and spaces.  We believe that the maintenance of these facilities should be done by a single entity and specifically recommend that the Bethesda Urban Partnership be assigned this responsibility. 

3.      Amenity Fund Dollars Should be Spent Locally: We appreciate that the amenity fund concept, included in the 2006 Woodmont Sector Plan amendment, is being continued.  We believe that the funds collected through this program should be spent on public amenities in the Bethesda Plan area.   Developers will likely be more willing to consider the fund alternative if they can be assured that the funds will be used in the area where they are making investments in new development.  

4.      Preserving Right-of-Way on Wisconsin Avenue for BRT Not Feasible: The plan recommendations regarding bus rapid transit (BRT) include extending the proposed MD 355 South BRT corridor to the intersection of Elm Street and Wisconsin Ave to provide direct connections to the Purple Line. We are concerned that preserving right-of-way (ROW) along Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda is no longer feasible. A number of properties along Wisconsin have been built without the necessary BRT ROW.  We don’t envision a circumstance where such ROW will be available until these sites are redeveloped, likely many years into the future. Moreover, preserving ROW for BRT stations and dedicated lanes could result in excessive setbacks, leaving streetscapes along Wisconsin Avenue with unnecessarily wide and empty sidewalks/spaces.

5.      Facilities for Youth Need to be a Priority: We would like the plan to address the needs of youth.  We believe a community center for youth recreation will be necessary to address the large number of new residents envisioned by the Plan. 

6.      Existing Public Spaces Need to be Activated: Attention should be focused on activating those public spaces that have already been created as part of the old plan.  Many remain lifeless and inaccessible to the general public.  We note the space adjacent to the Residence Inn on Wisconsin Avenue and the public space at the intersection of East Land and Montgomery Avenue as prime examples.

The Community Advisory Group Recommended by the Plan is Necessary:  The Plan calls for the formation of a new advisory group to advise the Planning Board on implementation of the new Plan.  We strongly support the creation of such a group and believe it should be modeled after the WTAG, though tasked with overseeing implementation of the entire Plan.           


Bethesda Downtown Plan - Citizens Advisory Board testimony

The following is testimony on the Bethesda Downtown Plan provided to the County Council by the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board on October 18, 2016:

Testimony to the County Council regarding the
Bethesda Downtown Plan

Thank you for this opportunity to provide feedback from the members of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board (the “Board”) regarding the draft Bethesda Downtown Plan (the “Draft Plan”).  The Board is pleased to be part of something that future generations will inherit and enjoy.

Overall the Draft Plan is a much needed update which sets a positive vision for Bethesda’s growth over the next 20-30 years. Bethesda’s success is due largely to the high-quality of life enjoyed by its residents.  The new growth envisioned by this plan can and should improve this quality of life for all.

In our review of the Draft Plan, Board members have identified the following specific concerns to bring to your attention: 

Affordable Housing

The Board wants to emphasize that every citizen and group who has provided input of the Draft Plan strongly supports providing affordable housing for all who need it whether it be for senior citizens, to attract new workforce entrants, people with lower wages, those with disabilities and those transitioning to permanent housing. Done properly we have an opportunity to fuel the vibrancy of downtown Bethesda and fulfill our social responsibility of housing those who need homes.

We firmly believe that the Plan should enable a diversity of housing options that are affordable to residents at a variety of income levels, and continue to build upon the successful MPDU program. 

School Facilities 

The impact on children in overcrowded schools is a serious issue.  We may reach a point in the not too distant future when renovations to existing Bethesda schools will no longer be an option to address capacity issues and new schools will need to be built.  In fact, B-CC has run out of space for future additions, and already has inadequate space for outside/after school activities.  We recommend that the Draft Plan include land acquisition for schools, particularly additional land for B-CC High School.

Traffic 

We support the Draft Plan recommendation concerning returning some one-way streets in Bethesda to two-way traffic. Two-way streets simplify navigation for drivers. They are more successful for retailers. They are also considered more pedestrian friendly. Changing these streets to two-way traffic could improve Bethesda’s urban fabric and make Bethesda easier for visitors to navigate.

We have heard from residents who say existing traffic has affected their way of life.  Residents of East Bethesda report “being trapped” in their community during rush-hour. Work schedules and activities for their children have to be altered based on the ability to simply get out of or into the area. Cut through impacts and neighborhood egress issues must be addressed in the Draft Plan.

Parks and Amenities

Outdoor space for neighbors to come together is vital to maintain and build our community.  We urge you to set a time frame for new parks to ensure that open space is available as growth occurs.  We support the vision for the transformation of Norfolk Avenue into a “shared space” which prioritizes people, not cars.  We are reminded of the streetscape goals in the existing Sector Plan that, due to costs, have not yet occurred. We welcome the park Amenity Fund concept, but the County also needs to allocate CIP funds to improve Norfolk Avenue, parks, and streetscapes in downtown Bethesda so those amenities are in place ahead of new development.

We support the mission of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, and believe that the management of new urban parks must be coordinated with them in a lead role to ensure a high standard of maintenance and co-branding with other BUP activities. 


Compatibility

It is critically important that new development must be compatible with neighboring single-family communities.  A lack of compatibility can severely impact quality of life for neighbors.  Set-backs, step-backs, building design, and traffic circulation are important elements of development review and should be a key goal of this Sector Plan.

Sidewalk and Lane Closures

Finally, the Board appreciates the work of Mr. Berliner, the Regional Services Center, and the Department of Permitting Services to minimize the impacts of sidewalk closures due to development.  Stringent oversight over sidewalk and lane closures must continue. Some growing pains are inevitable but not at the cost of stymying our ability to walk and drive without significant delays and jeopardizing safety.

Thank you again for this opportunity to provide testimony.

Scott Goldberg

Chair, Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board

Friday, September 16, 2016

Van Hollen, Leggett, Berliner issue aircraft noise statement

The following statement was made available at the September 15 FAA meeting regarding flight path adjustments at Reagan National Airport:




We understand that aircraft noise is a serious concern in your community. This is the first public meeting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has held for Montgomery County residents and it is important that your voice is heard. 

We believe the proposed flight procedure changes discussed tonight (“LAZIR B”) will exacerbate conditions for communities already impacted by "NextGEN" flight path changes implemented in 2015.

The effect of the NextGEN flight path changes has been disastrous in those few communities under the new, focused flight paths.  Aircraft now turn sooner and lower than previously.  The noise impact from the constant stream of aircraft over these neighborhoods is intolerable. 

LAZIR B further shifts those flight paths towards, and some cases over, Montgomery County neighborhoods. FAA’s modeling shows that noise will increase in those communities. 

We are working closely together to make our concerns known about the impacts of NextGEN and the LAZIR B adjustment. Over the summer, we asked FAA to return to pre-NextGen Flight paths until better solutions can be found. 

FAA should not be looking at tweaks to a failed system.  Instead, they need to employ their expertise to establish procedures that reverse the current detrimental impacts to County residents.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen
County Executive Isiah Leggett

Councilmember Roger Berliner

Friday, July 29, 2016

Branding the Pike

On March 29-30, ULI (Urban Land Institute) Washington conducted a technical assistance panel to help to develop concepts for visibly and distinctively identifying the Pike District, the commercial corridor along Rockville Pike between Grosvenor metro station to the south and the Rockville City limits, just south of the Twinbrook Metro station. The sponsor for this study, the White Flint Downtown Advisory Committee, was particularly interested in solidifying a new brand identity for the Pike District, establishing entry points to the area, and communicating major amenities that would attract people as the Pike District evolves.

ULI has released its report. The panel concluded that establishing an area's identity must be organic in order to be authentic and asserted that the identity of the study area will evolve over time. According to the panel, there is no need for a "giant sign" or an arbitrary moniker to create a sense of identity; these elements have a limited lifespan and can feel inauthentic. Instead, the panel encourages the sponsor to recreate the civic realm and view the new primary, secondary, and tertiary streets as foundational assets that can create a sense of identity and place through the intersections they create.

 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Conversation club on summer break - resumes September 14

There were 35 meetings of the English Language Conversation Club on Wednesdays, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM from September 16, 2015 to May 25, 2016 with the exceptions of November 11 and December 30, 2015. The conversation club met in Conference Room C, 2nd floor of the BCC Regional Services Center.

Many people from other countries live temporarily in the Bethesda Chevy Chase area. The conversation club is a “Montgomery County” welcome to those non-native English speakers and provides an opportunity for them to practice speaking English, exchange ideas and experiences, and meet others. There is no cost to participate in the club which is organized and facilitated by volunteers.

A total of 367 participants attended conversation club meetings during the year. There were an average of 10.5 attendees per session, with a low of 5 and a high of 19.

Twenty-nine (29) countries were represented: Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

During the year, the conversation club discussed topics of local, national and international interest, emphasizing current events. Participants shared experiences of their own countries and cultures. In October, the club talked about the issue of food waste (Waste Not, Want Not), common in many countries. During Women’s History Month in March, one week’s topic was Who and what is a feminist? The club considered the United States electoral process, on a local level -- the Montgomery County candidates in the Maryland primary – in April.

The English Language Conversation Club will resume after the summer on Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM.

 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Board requests funds for classroom instruction; infrastructure; ped safety

The following is text of a letter from the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board to members of the County Council concerning the FY17 County operating budget. The Board approved the letter at their April 18 meeting.

Dear Council President Floreen and Members of the County Council:

Thank you for this opportunity to provide testimony from the members of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board regarding the recommended fiscal year 2017 County Operating Budget. We appreciate your continued leadership on behalf of our community.

We commend County Executive Leggett for his courage in proposing a property tax increase in his recommended budget to address long-overdue needs – in particular greater investments in education. We strongly feel that additional transparency and public input will make our schools more effective at educating our children. The community has expressed concern that our additional tax dollars won't be directly allocated towards reducing classroom size and closing the achievement gap.

Our residential and business members agree that additional investment is needed for key priorities including: increased resources for school instruction; effective economic development; and bikeable/walkable streets.

Other specific issues pertinent to our area we would like to call to your attention are:

  • Increased investment in replacing aging infrastructure - and meeting the demands created by new development - including county roads, WSSC infrastructure, and WMATA;
  • The need for circulator services or similar transit improvements in the Pike District;
  • An improved and accurate snow removal tracking system; and
  • An increase in compensation for Bethesda Urban Partnership to maintain parity with County employees.

While we encourage the County Council to support the recommended tax increase at this time, it is important to continue to strive for and seek out improvements in solutions and approaches for a more efficient and effective government.

Thank you again for the opportunity to share our thoughts with you.

Sincerely,

Scott Goldberg, Chair

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bethesda is for arts lovers.

Whether its painting, theater, poetry & prose, or live music - Make downtown Bethesda your destination for the Arts.  

The following list was compiled by the great folks at the Bethesda Urban Partnership.


Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, and 3)
Jan 27 - Feb 21
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Mar 30 - Apr 24
The Who and the What
May 25 - Jun 19
Good Kids
Mar 11 - 13
You or Whatever I Can Get
Feb 11 - 27
Matt & Ben
June
Jack and Phil, Giant-Slayers, INC.
Feb 3 - Mar 13
Boxes, Boxes, Boxes!
Mar 8 - Apr 10
Looking for Roberto Clemente
Apr 13 - May 22
The Little Mermaid
Jun 22 - Aug 14
A Lesson from Aloes
April 29 - May 29
Evening of Poetry and Prose w/ Jane Shore & Howard Norman
Feb 4
Poetry and Prose Open Mic
Feb 10
An Evening with Jim Lehrer
March 24
Poetry and Prose Open Mic
April 10
E Ethelbert Miller Reading
April 14
Poet Lore 127th Birthday: Bruce Weigl & M. Nzadi Keita
April 28
Sara Becker, Barbara Mandel, Sam Miller & Ann Schaefer
Jan 6 – 30
Opening Reception: Jan 8
Andrew Wohl, Darlene Towson, Heather Jacks
Feb 3 – 27
Opening Reception: Feb 12
FoundOut Artists: Judy Levey, Linda Button,
Patricia Zannie, Shelley Lowenstein, and Robert Weiner
Mar 2 – 26
Opening Reception: Mar 11
John Bodkin
Mar 30 – Apr 23
Opening Reception: Apr 8
Karen Selbert
Apr 27 – May 21
Opening Reception: May 13
Bethesda Painting Awards
Jun 1 – 25
Opening Reception: Jun 10
February
Feb 12
March
March 11
April
April 8
May
May 13
June
June 10
Play in a Day
Feb 20
Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards Contest
March 4
Bethesda Film Fest
Mar 18 - 19
Bethesda Literary Festival
Apr 15 - 17
Bethesda Fine Arts Festival
May 14 - 15
Bethesda Painting Awards
Jun 1 – 25
Awards Reception: TBD
Opening Reception: Jun 10
Imagination Bethesda
June 4
Music Venues