Here is a recap of portions of Monday night’s Mayor and Council meeting.
Present: Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio, Councilmembers John Britton, Piotr Gajewski, Mark Pierzchala, and Bridget Donnell Newton.
City Manager’s Report
City Manager Scott Ullery asked Craig Simoneau, the Director of Public Works, to provide updates on City projects:
- ICC project construction traffic through King Farm. The general contractor was supposed to put up signs and speak with subcontractors but the fix lasted about a day. City staff have been promised a meeting on 9/14 and will be having a traffic meeting with the King Farm community. Montgomery County has been contacted about putting signs on I-270 warning trucks not to use the area. The City is exploring having the general contractor add language to each contract requiring the use of another route.
- Water main. Pure Technology has been inspecting the line since August 16th. Most of Phase I has been completed except for five areas they are coming back to inspect due to the difficulty in reaching them. When come back for Phase II access ports will have been added and they will complete the inspection. So far with 58% of the pipe inspected, only two sections have anomalies. Two contractors with good reputations had the lowest bids and they will replace the pipes and valves. Since the surge tank was already approved in CIP, it has been ordered. The lowest bidder for the installation is already working for the City and it will be replaced by October 16th. Therefore, with the release valves will be back in service, everything back in service at that time.
- Lakewood Bridge opened on August 22nd for the first day of school. Very tough deadline and they met it. It was more difficult than anticipated and work on the path for handicap accessibility will begin this week.
- Handicap accessibility for the Stonestreet Bridge replacement will be even more challenging.
The following people were appointed to Boards and Commissions:
Board of Supervisors of Elections
Beryl Feinberg (Reappointment as member until September 1, 2014)
Cultural Arts Commission
George Northway (Reappointment as member until September 1, 2013)
David Zbarsky (Appointment as student representative until September 1, 2013)
Anyone can address Citizen’s Forum. The best way is to call the City Clerk at 240-314-8280 by 4 PM, but typically anyone who shows up is allowed to speak. Here are brief recaps of their remarks:
Ben Murphyspoke about his upcoming Eagle Project event for Bikes for the World. The event is this Saturday at REI on RockvillePike. Everyone is encouraged to donate the used bikes cluttering up your garage along with a $10 shipping fee. Sewing machines will also be collected.
Ted Reuther spoke regarding Columbia Gas Pipeline issue. The interaction between residents and City staff has been superb. There have been meetings and discussions with the principal contact at Columbia about new technologies which would eliminate the need to remove overhanging tree branches. He’s pleased to continue working with the City to stop the removal of trees from outside the right of way.
Anne Goodmanspoke for herself andher husband in support keeping Redgate as a golf course. She is concerned about losing the wooded areas and storm water ponds which are wildlife habitat. She encourages the promotion of Redgate and ways to make more money to maximize the revenue. In the last Rockville Reports the “By the Numbers” Operating Budget only mentioned Redgate as a program costing money, which she felt was biased.
Dick Johns, PGA of America (a professional golfer association), talked about the benefits of Redgate. Golfers from outside the City are willing to spend money. City will want to havethis unique asset available to help when the economy begins to rebound. Right now the course provides full-time work for 13 employees, and financially supports fertilizer, chemicals, and food service companies. Events also benefit local charities. The course supports wounded soldiers at Walter Reed. Golfing has strong healthbenefits for those who play. All the factors need to be considered when determining the worth to citizens.
Susan Sweenspoke in support of Redgate Golf Course. She pays taxes and this is her money too. She has played all the courses in the area but she calls Redgate home. If you think it’s just a golf course, you are wrong. It’s a community where people gather and socialize. People don’t jump in car andgo home. They talk with each other about their scores. Redgate is one of the most challenging courses. No other course offers the same type of experience.
Alice Von Saundersexpressed disappointment with the Council. The figures from the city staff are not a true measure of Redgate. Fund are spent on the Senior Center which has been empty in the afternoons when she visits. A municipality pays for amenities for citizens. People think it costs more than other programs. When she wanted to go to Redgate, it was very difficult to findinformation, as if it the City wanted to keep it a secret. Shutting down the course would rob future generations. Perhaps the problem is withthe Council. Talked with people throughout the City and nearly all believeit should be kept as a golf course. Need to respect the demand of the people. Our high school golf teams practice there every week.
Carl Hargerspoke about his Twinbrook neighbors who are having trouble of keeping their homes. Redgate is part of this austerity. Now we can’t afford parks when the federal government could bail out banks which sold people homes they can’t afford. The result at our City level is that we say we can’t afford our parks but there’s always enough. We pay more taxes on houses then corporations pay, and that’s where we can get revenue.
Theresa Definoof the West End spoke on the court invalidation of the Beall’s Grant expansion. Luxury apartment buildings are in the cue before Beall’s Grant. Houses are being built and sold to new owners at high prices andthey can send their kids to Beall Elementary. The luxury projects already approved should be removed from the cue because the result has been economic segregation. Complete remarks are here.
John Keppelof Kensington has played golf at Redgate since 1980. Plays full-time are Redgatebecause it’s a challenging course withan excellent tournament program not available at other public courses. Being a member of associations allows players with handicaps to play at the tournament andhe supports the golf course.
Mary Caroline Collette would like the City to consider accessibility when planning and considering renovations including square footage and heavy doors. She also would like to see free access to recreation centers if residents are over 50 or perhaps even free because seniors deteriorate when kept in. The City needs to work on having trips for people who can’t do physical activities. The lottery for trips must be ended if the City wants to attract baby boomers.
Roger Horstspoke about the history of golf. It has always rebounded from every economic downturn. Decisions should not be made during times of duress. The comprehensive review that the state requires every six years has department-wide recommendations including the acquisition of additional park space, which is a difficult task. Redgate was included in the recommendations and the course is ranked at one of top 10 in the area. The golf played represents revenue. Putting 8% of the revenue of a company under “other” as was done for Redgate misleads everybody.
Susan Princespoke as a private West End citizen in support of Redgate. The City must provide recreational facilities to promote participation by all Rockville residents in safe, modern and well-maintained parks and facilities. Discussion has centered on a fiscal gain but rather we should look at how to make Redgatean even better asset to the community. Whether you play or not, it is set aside for recreational purposes for the citizens. Loves the idea of making the snack bar more attractive. No place to sit outside and enjoy. Also adding complimentary winter activities such as cross country rentals and an ice rink should be considered.
David Grossof King Farm supports the Redgate Golf course. On the website, he saw the City boast that we have a golf course and there are probably very few cities which can do this. Redgateis the only activity being required to generate revenue. The other golf courses in Montgomery County offer packages but they aren’t as challenging. Making it more attractive is the way to go.
Eric Hallfrom Chevy Chase makes a choice to play Redgate because of the community andhe’s played with all ages andpeople from aroundthe world. At the other courses, you really don’t find the diversity. It is unique. He single handily helping the economy because he passes the stores and shops on RockvillePike. There are intangibles beyond dollars andcents to the citizens beyond Rockville.
Judy Millerwanted to add her support to the Redgate Course. When sitting in traffic she thought what a good thing it was to have this green space. She wants to make sure we really, really look at it in regards to green space.
Art Stigileof Hungerfordthinks we should start a group to “save taxpayers”. Nowhere in the 19 page Redgatereport do you find the cost to taxpayers. He explained the point in his piece on Rockville Central.By the end of the year Redgate will owe Rockville $2.4 million dollars. Loans to Redgatewill make up 1/6 of the reserve. Instead of being a rainy day fund it’s already been spent on Redgate. He understands the passion for golf and needs a passion for taxpayers.
Joe Jordonchairman of Redgate Advisory Group was overwhelmed because he didn’t know most of the people who showed up and testified in support of Redgate and he wanted to thank them.
Response to Citizen’s Forum
Mr. Gajewski mentioned the possibility of a city-wide referendum for citizens to decide about Redgate.
Mayor Marcuccio wants to look for ways to make Redgate business better rather than sell off the land. She found the idea of the referendum interesting and it could include other programs.
The three items on the Consent Agenda were unanimously approved:
A. Contract Award for Temporary Personnel (A clarification was discussed that this is unskilled labor andnot administrative. The contract rate is $12.69 per hour.)
B. Adoption of resolution to petition the State of Maryland to reinstate state shared revenues diverted from municipal governments to fund operations of the state and to provide more diverse revenue raising authority to municipalities.
E. Letter to Columbia Gas Transmission Company (CGT) Regarding Maintenance Protocols for Gas Pipeline Right-of-Way Clearing in Rockville.
Items removed from the Consent Agenda for discussion and approval:
C. Request for Information (RFI) for Adaptive Reuse of King Farm Farmstead was unanimously approved after discussion:
Ms. Newton wanted to know that the community was informed about the decision being made. Burt Hall reported that staff presented to about six board and six residents at one of their association meetings andit was not in the King Farm Chronicle. The general reaction is that this is only an invitation for an expression of ideas to findout if there are any organizations out there wanting to work with the City but the City could do additional notifications. Mr. Pierzchala stated this has always been an RFI. We’ve had community charrettes and the buildings out there underutilized. Mayor Marcuccio wanted to know why the National Park Service information about advertising at least twice was included. Mr. Hall explained they looked to others who do RFIs and since NPS does many they looked at their processes. They use a long advertising period of 60 days. There really isn’t a set of organizations looking for something like this. It is a local historic district. Mr. Pierzchala wondered if there was support to sell it. Mayor Marcuccio would rather test the waters first. Mr. Gajewski is for exploring all options including selling. Mr. Britton would prefer not to include selling the property in the RFI.
D. Recognition for Mr. Carl Henn
Mayor Marcuccio explained that of the eleven options, the one which appealed most to Mrs.Carol Henn was renaming the of the Millenium Trail in his honor. A motion to rename the Millenium Trail the Carl HennTrail was approved unanimously. A proclamation with the design for the sign should be ready for the public meeting on the 27th.
A motion to rename the Outstanding Individual Environmental Achievement Award to be the Carl Henn Outstanding Individual Environmental Achievement Award and presenting Carl’s family with the award posthumously was also approved unanimously.
An Additional Motion on the Zoning Test Amendment was unanimously adopted.It was a clarification not a change to (1) clarify the definition of a buildable lot; (2) establish minimum lot frontage requirements in the larger lot Single Dwelling Unit Residential Zones andMixed-Use (MX) Zones in conjunction with modifying street frontage requirements in Planned Development (PD) Zones; and (3) allow fences up to six feet tall to be approved to replace an existing fence in select PD Zones under certain criteria.
Other Agenda Items
Public Hearings for the Municipal Growth Element (MGE), Draft Water Resources Element, and RedgateGolf Course were held along wi a presentation on the Montgomery College Facilities Master Plan. All of these deserve separate reports due to the complexity and details of the discussion.
Town Center Update by Jenny Kimball
- A hearing will be held on the installation of an ice rink on September 24th. The installation of temporary generators and a place to store a zamboni will be discussed.
- The data on Town Center parking garage use showed it was higher in 2010 than 2009. The last week in July usage went from 50% in 2009 to 72% in 2010. Beginning August 1st selling 100 monthly parking passes to Montgomery County for employees.
- Uncorked had the best year yet with 13 wineries and specialty stores. Over 3,000 people filled Town Square. Merchants noted heavy foot traffic and increased sales. The principal revenue was from sale of glasses resulting in $32,000. Vendors provided all the wine at their cost. No food vendors, so people ate in restaurants. Very close to a self-supporting event.
- September 25th is Jazz Festival and Taste of Town Square.
- The Rooftop nearly 15,000 visitors this season. Carefully monitoring sound with new speakers and no complaints were received in the past month.
The next Mayor and Council meeting is scheduled for September 20th.
Note: Mayor and Council meetings are long and can last into the wee hours of the morning. We can’t cover every decision and discussion but we’d like to provide enough information so readers know what’s happening in our City. After each meeting we will report on appointments and the City Manager’s report. When we can, we describe topics from Citizen’s Forum and report on any votes taken. We invite the community to let us know when we leavesomething out. We also invite anyone speaking during Citizens Forum to send their remarks to us for consideration as Contributor Opinions. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. If we miss a vote or leave out a bit of information you think is important, we’d like to know in comments!