Mayor and Council to Design Rockville Metro, Spend $6 Million in Federal Funds, and Battle over the Budget on December 13
At its Monday, December 13, 2021 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss three design concepts for Rockville Metro station, use of nearly $6 million in ARPA funds, and determine 2023 budget priorities. This is a worksession and will not offer public hearings or a community forum, but it will be streamed live if you are interested in these topics.Continue reading →
Mayor and Council to Review Draft Climate Action Plan
At its Monday, November 15, 2021 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss increasing water and sewage charges, American Rescue Plan Act funds, and historic designation or demolition of 460 Hungerford Drive (most recently Meixin Supermarket, formerly the Colony Shop, designed by John Henry Sullivan). On the Consent Calendar (items approved without discussion) are the purchase of a concrete mixer for $116,363; a dump truck for $183,746; and a refuse truck for $524,886. The Mayor and Council will also receive reports on an employee homeownership program and a climate action plan.Continue reading →
Mayor and Council to Approve 370 Residences near King Farm with Unusual Conditions
At its Monday, November 8, 2021 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will approve 370 residences at 16200 Frederick Road (aka King Buick), amend the City Code for “moderately priced housing”, and increase water and sewer rates starting in the second half of 2022. On the Consent Calendar (items approved without discussion) are a replacement shelter at Isreal Park, among others. The Mayor and Council will also receive a report from the Planning Commission.Continue reading →
Planning Commission to Discuss Priorities for 2022-23
At its Wednesday, October 27, 2021 meeting, the Rockville Planning Commission will discuss implementation of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. During the September 22 meeting, the Commission and staff recognized that development of a
complete implementation framework covering the entire Plan, including Commission discussions, would
not be possible to complete this fall; and that the Commission could continue to work on this framework
over the next approximately six months. The city staff will present a list of about 30 recommendations for the next year to implement the Plan and, should the Commission choose to do so, make a recommendation to the
Mayor and Council in time for their development of the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget, which would mean
delivering its recommendation during the fall of 2021.
Among the short-term recommendations for implementation are:
- a comprehensive update to the Zoning Ordinance
- update the Town Center Master Plan
- enhancements to the pedestrian and bicycle safety and accessibility
- identify and acquire properties for parks
- complete the plan for Red Gate Park
- identify a solution for the King Farm Farmstead
- relocate the materials and distribution facility from North Stonestreet Avenue owned by MCPS and Montgomery County
- complete a climate action plan
- expand the number of charging stations for electric vehicles
- prepare a flood resiliency plan
- develop a marketing and branding plan to attract businesses and customers to Rockville
- complete a strategic plan for affordable housing
That’s the short list from nearly 30 items suggested. It is far longer than reasonable to get anything significant accomplished in the next year. To get anything done, the Planning Commission will need to choose no more than three—and more importantly, they need to be the right things that will have a lasting and significant impact on the community. Which three would you choose?
More details in the 11-page agenda packet available at https://rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10272021-6389.
Mayor and Council focus Priorities around Development
The Rockville Mayor and Council recently engaged the Novak Consulting Group (who aided in the search for the new city manager) to help refine their list of 23 priorities created in 2016—far too many to get things done. As a result, the Mayor and Council identified the priorities among their priorities, coming up with a list of twelve which are overwhelmingly focused on city planning and development, and may just be wishful thinking: Continue reading →
MLK Day a Good Reminder of How Far Rockville Has Come
Today we’re remembering the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his work on overcoming the racial divide in America. Although he never visited Rockville, his values were affecting some of the people who lived here. In 1963, the first African American family moved into Hungerford, which prompted fear in the neighborhood that property values would fall. In response, the city and county increased police patrols to quell any potential violence, the local newspaper didn’t report on the event, and the City Council held a special meeting to determine the city’s role, including “its moral responsibility for bringing about the peaceful transition of the neighborhood.”
While some neighbors were gathering to get these new neighbors to move out, others were making them feel welcome and distributed a fact sheet to counter the rumors and local churches and businesses came forward to discourage protests and attacks against the African American family. It took a couple weeks before the tension dissipated, but in the 1960s, it could have become a violent confrontation. I’ve attached an article from the National Civic Review that provides more details.
Today, Rockvillians would be shocked to hear of events like this occurring in our community. Racial and ethnic differences are certainly still present and cause concern in some residents and neighborhoods, but they are far less prevalent that those around class differences. The fights about affordable housing are typically surrogates about keeping people in the working class out of professional class neighborhoods (remember Beall’s Grant II?). As with African American moving into a neighborhood for the first time back in the 1960s, the arguments are surprisingly the same: lower property values and increased crime. Rockville has come a long way from the racial strife of the 1960s but we still have a long way to go.
Rockville’s Zelda Fitzgerald featured in US Women’s Museum Report
Philanthropist and novelist Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald, is prominently featured in the new Report to Congress and the President of the United States on the American Museum of Women’s History. Few people know that Zelda and Scott are buried (should I say “sleeping”?) in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Rockville (it’s even listed in the Atlas Obscura) and even fewer know that it was Zelda who insisted that Scott be buried in the family plot when he died in Hollywood in 1940. Zelda was living at a sanitarium in Asheville, North Carolina, and too ill to attend his funeral but tragically, she would join him eight years later after dying in a fire at the sanitarium. Because the Catholic church denied his burial at St. Mary’s, the Fitzgeralds were buried in the Rockville Cemetery in Twinbrook. They were moved to St. Mary’s in 1975.
As for the American Museum of Women’s History, the report recommends it become part of the Smithsonian Institution and present a “wide spectrum of American women’s experiences in a way that appeals to a diverse audience.” They’ve identified a fundraising goal of $150-$180 million from the private sector for construction but the museum is only feasible if there is public support to provide the land somewhere near the Mall (three locations were suggested) and that the government would operate and maintain the museum. I wonder how the new President and Congress will respond?
No Confederate Flags in Rockville, but What About the Statue?
No Confederate flags fly above any government or business building in Rockville, but what about the Confederate Monument on the grounds of the Red Brick Courthouse in downtown? The United Daughters of the Confederacy erected the statue directly in front of the courthouse “to our heroes of Montgomery Co., Maryland, that we through life may not forget to love the Thin Gray Line,” unveiling it at a dedication ceremony on June 3, 1913 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) that featured Congressman J. Thomas Heflin of Alabama, who was an outspoken proponent of white supremacy.
Rockville’s and Montgomery County’s sympathies for the Confederacy were strong both during and after the Civil War. Of Montgomery County’s Confederate veterans, three were elected as county commissioners, five as state delegates, two as state senators, three as state’s attorney, and one as mayor of Rockville. Vestiges still survive today. For example, Edward Wootton, whose family name is memorialized on a major street, park, and a high school in Rockville, had fought for the Confederacy. Matthew Fields, the founder of The Sentinel (now the only local newspaper in Rockville), was a vocal supporter of the South, mixing his political vision with a hatred for immigrants, blacks, and Catholics. And of course the Confederate Monument in downtown Rockville.
The Confederate Monument was moved to the side of the courthouse in 1971 into a grove of trees as part of the urban renewal of downtown–but is that sufficient? Perhaps we’re still bound by nostalgia or too ignorant to fully realize the meaning and symbolism that was poured into that bronze soldier, who is forever gazing South. The community still commemorated the arrival of Confederate Generals Jeb Stuart (on his way north to Gettysburg in June 1863) and Jubal Early (on his way south to Washington DC in 1864) during the 2013 Heritage Days. The Beall-Dawson House and Glenview, two historic houses owned by the City of Rockville, barely mention the enslaved men, women, and children who lived and worked there and would have continued into slavery for generations had the Confederacy won. Now that we have African Americans serving on our City Council and as the County Executive, isn’t time to rethink who and what we commemorate in Rockville and Montgomery County? Isn’t time for us to reflect on the full meaning of the Confederate Monument?
Update July 31, 2015
Major postings about the Confederate Monument on other blogs or websites (in alphabetical order):
American Historical Association: All History Is Local: Debating the Fate of a Confederate Soldier Statue in Maryland
Bethesda Magazine: Rockville, Montgomery County Debating What to Do with Confederate Statue and Leggett Says Work Underway to Remove Confederate Statue in Rockville
Congressman Chris Van Hollen: Van Hollen Urges Immediate Removal of Confederate Statue in Rockville
History News Network: What Does Rockville, Maryland’s Confederate Monument Tell Us About the Civil War? About the Nadir? About the Present?
Rockville Nights: Rockville Confederate statue hearing draws a diversity of opinions
Rockville Patch: Group Offers Ideas on What to Do with Confederate Statue
The Sentinel: Man on the street interviews regarding the confederate statue (video); Committee releases report on Rockville Statue; and County can move confederate statue, state says
The Seventh State: Civil War Skirmish in Rockville
WAMU: Should Anything Be Done With The Confederate Monument In Rockville?
Washington Post: Confederate soldier statue in Montgomery spray-painted with ‘black lives matter’
WJAL: Confederate memorial in Rockville sparks controversy
WTOP: Confederate statue in Rockville vandalized
New Mark Commons is not So Common
It was a beautiful day to explore New Mark Commons, the exceptionally well-designed mid-century neighborhood west of downtown Rockville. Hosted by Peerless Rockville, a standing-room only crowd of about 60 people gathered in the Clubhouse to hear an illustrated lecture by Dr. Isabel Gournay of the University of Maryland. Rose Krasnow, a longtime resident and former administrator of New Mark Commons, provided the introductory remarks. Afterwards, about half the group walked the neighborhood to visit a single-family house on Radburn and a townhouse on the lake–plus a surprise invitation to visit a second townhouse. Two more neighborhoods will be visited in the next month–the Americana Centre and King Farm–so if you’d like architecture and local history, these are a perfect way to enjoy both.
Rockville Sister City Fundraiser Exceeds Expectations
Last night the Rockville Sister City Corporation held a wine-tasting at Glenview Mansion as a fundraiser for the longstanding non-profit organization. Nearly fifty people attended, which was twice the expectations, delighting president Brigitta Mullican. Among the attendees were Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and Councilmember Mark Pierzchala, and two Council candidates: Beryl Feinberg and Julie Palakovich Carr.
The paneled dining room of Glenview made for an ideal setting for socializing with a nice glass of wine while supporting a local non-profit organization. The wine tasting was focused on white wines, with five selections from Germany, Spain, and the United States. A blind tasting of a range from chablis to riesling to sauvignon blanc challenged people to use their senses to identify the wine. Thankfully, it was limited to five distinct wines and an identification list was provided so I had a fighting chance to get one right.
Fundraisers like this are becoming increasingly difficult for non-profits in Maryland. Costs and regulations continue to increase, which is either eliminating these traditional community events or significantly reducing the income. For example, health codes that affect restaurants are also applied to these one-time small fundraising events as well, so the traditional bake sale featuring homemade goods is nearly impossible and serving meals requires a commercial kitchen with three sinks (yes, three). If this continues, I’m guessing that lemonade stands and pancake breakfasts will soon require health permits and liability insurance. Let’s hope our elected officials in Annapolis and City Hall are watching this trend as much as they are watching casinos and traffic cams.