At its Monday, October 17, 2022 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss the FY2024 budget and adoption of a master plan for Red Gate Park. On the Consent Calendar (items approved without discussion) are agreements with the Rockville Football League and the Road Runners Club, among others. The Mayor and Council will also receive a report from the Financial Advisory Board.
The Financial Advisory Board‘s report found no issues with City finances under its scope of work, however, it also revealed several significant differences between them and the City Council and staff. The Board believes that all recreation and parks programs should recover their full costs in fees, however, the Council wants some programs to be subsidized for specific residents to be affordable. Secondly, the Board disagrees with the staff on the handling of donations. It’s unclear what the staff position is, but the Board seems to be recommending that a written policy be adopted. Finally, there seems to be a disconnect between Council priorities and city department goals. No examples are provided, but the city has hired Raftelis to review performance management practices.
For the FY2024 budget, various community groups and neighborhood associations have proposed projects, including installing dog waste disposal bins along Tower Oaks Boulevard, installing a pedestrian crossing from the Twinbrook neighborhood over the railroad tracks to the Rockville Pike, repaving the roads in the Hungerford neighborhood, creating a dog run area in Elwood Smith Park, installing picnic tables in Dawson Farm Park, installing a “welcome to Hungerford” sign on Wooton Parkway, calming traffic on Mannakee Street, installing a dome over the outdoor fitness pool at the Swim Center. The Villages at Tower Oaks, Twinbrook Community Association, and Swim Club Advisory Board each proposed one project; the West End Civic Association proposed two projects: and the Hungerford Civic Association submitted ten projects.
The City Council will adopt the Re-Imagining RedGate Park Master (it really bugs me that Red Gate is spelled as one word, as if it were a Silicon Valley tech start-up). The Plan envisions Red Gate Park as “new and existing forest, feature landscapes including new meadow areas and varied gardens, environmental site design, interpretive signage, public art, and passive areas/lawns with new and existing pathways. Approximately ninety percent (90%) of RedGate Park is designated for passive recreation and natural habitats, and ten percent (10%) for more active recreation.” Estimated construction costs range from $16 to $24 million. The biggest expenses are a new amphitheater ($4 to $6 million) and a new Visitor Center ($4 to $6 million). The cost of annual maintenance is not addressed (will it result in increased property taxes or a reduction in city services?). The term “arboretum” is often used in the plan but it is misleading—it won’t be anything like a local version of the US National Arboretum in DC, which is a collection of trees curated by scientists for research and educational purposes, not simply some plant identification labels as proposed for Red Gate. If the Rockville Science Center was included, maybe it could be.
More details in the 139-page agenda packet are available at https://www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10172022-6719.