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 →
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 →
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 →
At its Thursday, October 21, 2021 meeting, the Rockville Historic District Commission will discuss conversion of an office building at 22 W. Jefferson into a multi-unit residential building and the demolition of 1800 and 1818 Chapman Avenue to construct a multi-unit residential building near Twinbrook Metro. On the Consent Calendar (items approved without discussion) are no items.
More details in the 3-page agenda packet available at https://www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10212021-6384
At its Monday, October 18, 2021 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss the construction of 252 townhomes and 118 multi-family units by EYA Development at 16200 Frederick Road (King Buick). On the Consent Calendar (items approved without discussion) are increasing fines for parking violations (mostly increased from $40 to $60), modifying requirements for project plans, and defining demolition (from 100 percent to 50 percent of the floor area of a building), among others. The Mayor and Council will also receive reports on Rockville Economic Development Inc. and on RedGate Park.
More details in the 388-page agenda packet available at https://www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10182021-6381
Replacing Dawsons Market Requires a Cluster of Solutions; That May Be Too Much for the Mayor and Council
At the end of October 2018, Dawson’s Market closed in Rockville’s downtown. It was a big disappointment for the City of Rockville, who hailed its arrival in 2012 as a major success for the new Town Square. They spent years searching for an anchoring grocery store to attract daily shoppers to support the adjacent stores and restaurants (see MyMCM video, which includes hopeful remarks by several current and former elected officials).
In response to its closing, Dawson’s opened a short-lived $100,000 GoFundMe campaign and the Rockville Mayor and Council held two special meetings to discuss the future of Town Square (a couple other businesses recently closed as well) on October 9 and November 13, which attracted standing-room-only crowds. These meetings generated lots of questions, including current efforts by Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) and the City of Rockville. Unfortunately, most of FRIT’s responses are vague and uninformative:
- “not uncommon for independent business owners to have more challenges than larger chains” (so what are the major challenges and how are you addressing them?)
- “lease rates are determined through…many variables” (so what are the lease rates and how do they compare to areas outside of Town Square?)
- “we value and pursue feedback from our merchants” (so what are they telling you and what have you learned?)
So what are the challenges facing merchants in Town Square? According to Continue reading →
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
Congressman Chris Van Hollen: Van Hollen Urges Immediate Removal of Confederate Statue in Rockville
Rockville Nights: Rockville Confederate statue hearing draws a diversity of opinions
Rockville Patch: Group Offers Ideas on What to Do with Confederate Statue
The Seventh State: Civil War Skirmish in Rockville
Rockville’s OLBN Architectural Services is leading the efforts to preserve and restore Clara Barton’s Civil War-era office and warehouse on 7th Street in downtown Washington, DC–where she worked and lived before founding the American Red Cross in 1881. The historic site doesn’t open to the public as a museum until fall 2014 but last week I had a special sneak peak at the work underway.
From the street, you’d never imagine that this was a nationally significant historic site. It’s a simple three-story brick building in Penn Quarter surrounded by restaurants, towering condos and offices, popular museums, and the Verizon Center. Its historical significance was forgotten for most of the century until 1997, when a nightwatchman hired to keep vagrants out of the vacant building noticed a document jutting out from the ceiling. It turned out to be part of a cache of artifacts belonging to Clara Barton that had been stored in the Continue reading →
Nearly sixty people gathered this morning for an illustrated lecture on the history of Twinbrook by Dr. Richard Longstreth of George Washington University. In the 1940s and 1950s, Joseph Geeraert developed Twinbrook on a 200-acre farm that spanned Viers Mill Road. Geeraert’s Twinbrook was roughly south of Broadwood between Rockville Pike and Baltimore Road, although today Twinbrook is considered to be much larger and runs up to First Avenue (much to the consternation of those who live in the neighborhoods of Viers Mill Village and Silver Rock).
Geeraert was born in Belgium but came to America as a young man, getting started in construction in Takoma Park. Although he had many projects around the Washington, DC region, Twinbrook was his largest, longest running, and most complex development. He built as funding came available and eventually these small developments interconnected to become the neighborhood of houses, schools, churches, library, post office, and shopping centers that we know today. Most people who drive through Twinbrook assume the houses are all the same, but Geeraert modified and enlarged the designs over time to appeal to the changing tastes of buyers.
After the lecture, the audience discussed the names of streets, racial discrimination, and evolving construction practices. Then about half of the group went on a short walk around the neighborhood to see various types of houses and take a stroll on a hidden walkway. It was great to see so many current and former Twinbrookers (including some who lived here for 50 years!) and to hear their stories of living in the neighborhood.
This lecture is the first in a series on Rockville’s recent neighborhoods, so check Peerless Rockville’s website for the times and dates of upcoming events, as well as a two new interpretive maps of Twinbrook.
The JBG Companies, who are currently building a large complex of offices, residences, and stores around the Twinbrook Metro station, are also working on a portion of downtown Rockville that’s slated as phase two of the Town Center. The 2008 economic downturn slowed development considerably but is now picking up, as evidenced by the construction of the corporate headquarters of Choice Hotels. JBG owns the former Giant Grocery store at 275 North Washington Street (across from the Beall’s Grant Apartments) and has been exploring various uses for this vacant building and adjoining parking lot. Today, they shared the following plans:
New shopping, apartments and offices are slated for an overlooked city block in Rockville’s downtown, offering the opportunity to energize a long-vacant Giant grocery store site and adjoining tracts. The JBG Companies is proposing to demolish the grocery store and build new offices and shopping as a complement to busy Rockville Town Square next door. JBG has shared its plans with multiple audiences including neighbors, city officials, community groups and civic users.
“We are fortunate to have strong support from neighbors and businesses alike who have long been asking for renewed vigor in this part of downtown Rockville,” said Anthony Greenberg, a JBG official. “Redeveloping this property is an excellent opportunity to Continue reading →