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 →
For homeowners in Rockville, July brings the annual property tax bill. I’m guessing that most people simply look at the bottom line and grumble that it’s higher than last year, blaming it on the government. But we’re the government, so we can and should tell our elected officials when it’s okay to be taxed and how we want those funds spent. Which elected officials should we blame? That’s where it can get confusing and far too often I’ve seen the wrong people blamed for the actions of others. Indeed, the Rockville Mayor and Council too often is unfairly blamed for high taxes, when it’s usually the fault of the Montgomery County Council. Take a look at the breakdown for my property taxes, which will be roughly equivalent to all other homes in Rockville because we pay the same percentage of taxes according to the assessed value of the property. As you can see in the pie chart, Montgomery County collects nearly two-thirds of the property tax (blue), Rockville about a quarter (orange), and the State of Maryland about ten percent (green). Rockville collects another ten percent for trash and stormwater management (light orange) but Continue reading →
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 →
WalletHub named Rockville as the one of America’s most diverse cities in 2016 based on social class, ethnicity, economics, and households. It ranked 14 out of 301, being bested by our neighbors in Gaithersburg (#1), Silver Spring (#4), Germantown (#5), and Frederick (#8), but ranked higher than places usually lauded for their diversity, such as San Francisco (#20), Alexandria, VA (#45), Denver (#67), San Antonio (#119), and Seattle (#149).
On Monday, March 6, the Rockville Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing on the role of the City Police in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Will Rockville’s diversity be celebrated or feared? Will immigrants be threatened or welcomed? Will the answers be quickly forthcoming or will they become mired in bureaucracy? It’s uncertain where the City of Rockville will land and I suspect it will be a tense and difficult conversation.
It’s a conversation that started shortly after the Presidential election. Mayor Newton read a statement at the start of the City Council meeting on November 14, 2016 to recognize that Rockville’s strengths are Continue reading →
The Rockville Bike Hub (RBH) will host a bicycle drive on Saturday, June 11, between 3 and 6 p.m., during the Bikes, Brews and Barbecue event outside Revolution Cycles at 5750 Fishers Lane adjacent to the Twinbrook Metro. All bikes will be accepted but the critical need is for bicycles for children in first through fifth grade. Adult bikes will be used for education and volunteer training or donated to Bikes for the World.
In partnership with the City of Rockville, the non-profit, RBH recently gave away more than 30 bicycles to local elementary school children as a reward for performing a small service project. “In general, a bike gives a child a sense of independence and freedom and the ability to broaden the area that they can explore in their neighborhoods,” said Rockville Bike Hub Board President Steve Andruski. “Our hope is that, it turns into a lifelong activity and they become connected to the bicycling community.”
In addition to collecting bikes, the Rockville Bike Hub will be Continue reading →
Rockville residents Tom Moore and Dana Tofig recently launched MoCo Beat, a podcast about “the news, the politics, and the life of Montgomery County.” Moore is an attorney with the Federal Elections Commission and recently concluded four years of service on the Rockville City Council. Tofig works in the research arm of the US Department of Education was formerly the Public Information Officer with Montgomery County Public Schools. Their first episode looks at the Rockville Pike Plan, the recently adopted Montgomery County budget, places to buy beer, and new restaurants in downtown Rockville. The first podcast is just short of 40 minutes and looks like it might be a weekly production.
With the demise of the Gazette newspaper and spartan coverage by the Washington Post, it is difficult to locate news about Rockville but here are the ones I know: Continue reading →
On Monday, May 9, the Rockville Mayor and Council will continue its worksession on “Rockville’s Pike Neighborhood Plan.” Along with building heights and pedestrian crossings, traffic congestion is a major controversy and the conversation has become terribly confusing: widening or narrowing the road, keeping or eliminating the access roads, extending adjacent roads, increasing Metro service, and incorporating bus rapid transit (BRT). Some of these solutions are beyond the control of the City (such as Metro service), some benefit one group versus another (such as businesses or nearby residents), and others are so expensive or far in the future that their feasibility is unclear (such as the BRT). What’s become incredibly confusing are Continue reading →
More than 30 groups will take to four stages across six city blocks in Rockville Town Center for the city’s Hometown Holidays Music Fest on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29, 2016. The weekend will once again feature favorite food from local restaurants at the Taste of Rockville, kids amusements and the 72nd Annual Memorial Day Ceremony and Parade on Monday, May 30.
Two hometown area bands will headline the 28th annual festival on Sunday. Baltimore’s Kelly Bell Band will play at 6:30 p.m. and then join the original “Bad Boys of Bethesda,” The Nighthawks, at 8:30 p.m. in the headlining slot on the Bud Light Stage. Other artists on the Bud Light Stage include:
- Alternative band Knox Hamilton at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
- Soul/rock band Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
- Flow Tribe, playing funk, rock and psychedelic at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
- “BluesAmericanaRock” artist Ted Garber at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Additional acts include rock band Radio Birds, reggae favorite Jah Works, the roots rock of The Alternate Routes, and the U.S. Navy Band Country Current, playing country and bluegrass. Find a full schedule of performances at www.rockvillemd.gov/hometownholidays.
The festival is just a five-minute walk from the Rockville Metro station. Festival-goers who drive or bike will find parking in the City Hall lots, Montgomery County Council office building garage on Fleet Street and the Metro station lots.
Learn more at http://www.rockvillemd.gov/hometownholidays or at “City of Rockville Hometown Holidays” on Facebook.
The Maryland General Assembly is about halfway through its 90-day annual grind through more than 2,500 pieces of legislation along with the State’s budgets. State Senator Cheryl Kagan provides a regular email that lists her current activities, but it’s incomplete because so much is happening. To see the entire picture, you have to visit the General Assembly website to discover that she’s shepherding 78 bills, 10 of which she is sponsoring and 67 she is co-sponsoring. As a sponsor of a bill, she’s the one who introduced the legislation. Sen. Kagan is the primary sponsor of the following bills but note that they are subject to numerous revisions in the legislative process (so what you read here may change):
SB0001: Health Insurance – In Vitro Fertilization – Use of Spouse’s Sperm – Exception. This bill alters the required conditions for health insurance coverage of in vitro fertilization (IVF) by creating an exception to the required use of the spouse’s sperm. For a patient whose spouse is of the opposite sex, the patient’s eggs must be fertilized with the spouse’s sperm, unless (1) the spouse is unable to produce and deliver sperm and (2) the inability does not
result from a vasectomy or other method of voluntary sterilization. According to the Department of Budget and Management, State plan expenditures increase by an estimated $216,310 in fiscal 2017, or approximately 0.025% of annual State plan spending. The State plan currently covers IVF. Expenditures reflect increased utilization of IVF and medical claims associated with the resulting pregnancies.
SB0028: State Government – Web Sites – Language Access. This bill requires specified State departments, agencies, and programs to take reasonable steps, beginning October 1, 2016, to operate and maintain, for Continue reading →
The November 2015 issue of Washingtonian features the 50 best places to work in the DC region, which means the “generous pay and benefits, flexible schedules, interesting work, and happy colleagues.” According to the employees surveyed, they not only value good pay and benefits, but also a sane work/life balance, trust and automony, flexible hours, and opportunities to learn and grow. And four of the companies that meet these values are based in Rockville:
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a nonprofit organization that supports audiologists and speech-language pathologists headquartered at 2200 Research Boulevard with 200 employees.
- EASC (Enterprise Science and Computing), a 14-year old scientific and technical research and management firm at 11 North Washington Street with 45 employees.
- Raffa Financial Services, a 15-year old consulting firm that focuses on finances and management at 1201 Seven Locks Road with 26 employees.
- Redfin, a national real estate company based in Seattle with a local office at 1375 Piccard Drive in Rockville.
Think your office is a great place to work? You can nominate it by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line”great place to work.”
This issue also includes a lengthy feature on Sophia Parker, a Rockville woman who has turned DSFederal at 11900 Parklawn Drive, her “young IT company into a contracting powerhouse–all while running it like a charity.” They call her “one of Washington’s most altruistic CEOs.”
Wow! So happy to have people and companies like this in our community.