Category Archives: Quality of life

Rockville Candidates Missing the Forest and Trees for the Rocks

Last week, I received the following email message from Joe Jordan, who is closely associated with Bridget Newton‘s election campaign:

Max, there have been at least two occasions where Clark Reed has been seen wearing a handmade name tag that reads “Rockville City Council – Clark Reed”. It was pointed out to him at the MPT showing on Friday, yet he wore it again at RTS on Saturday. Recalling two years ago, I recall how you were concerned about integrity and propriety and following election guidelines, and while nametags may not be covered under them, I am sure you can see how misleading his nametag can be.

Can I be confident in the fact you will bring this to his and Sima [Osdoby]’s attention, and ask that, at a minimum, he and all slate candidates use the wording “candidate for” if they are not incumbents.

Thanks for your attention to this important matter.

Name badgesMr. Jordan is correct that name badges are not specifically addressed in Rockville’s election code (although it addresses nearly everything else: “any pamphlet, circular, card, sample ballot, dodger, poster, advertisement or any printed, multigraphed, photographed, typewritten or written matter or statement or any matter or statement which may be copied by any device”) and that I value transparency, honesty, and accuracy in government (and in business and personal relationships).  I’ve passed his message onto the candidates of Team Rockville, but just to clarify, each candidate that is part of the Team is responsible for his or her own campaign (I don’t manage individual campaigns, just the Team’s; and this blog is mine, not the Team’s).

More important, though, I am growing increasingly concerned with the topics deemed important in this election.  Richard Gottfried sent out the first campaign mailer of the season and accused his opponents of associating with “fat cat developers” without providing any evidence.  On the Twinbrook Listserv a couple weeks ago, Brigitta Mullican complained about the inaccuracies in my blog post (I said Beryl Feinberg worked in the county’s office of management and budget) and that she wasn’t allowed to post comments, then recruited Beryl Feinberg to pile on:
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Rockville Solar Co-op Begins First Project

Maryland SunThe Rockville Solar Co-op has selected Sustainable Energy Systems (Frederick) and Standard Energy Solutions (Rockville) as the two firms who are eligible to bid on projects for the 128 members of the group.  They’re now scheduling site visits for homeowners and preparing proposals.  So far, 26 members have been contacted to set up a site visit; 16 members have had a site visit scheduled or completed; 9 members have received their proposal; and 1 member has signed a contract and is going solar!

Sign-ups continue to be open for the Rockville group through Labor Day. Know anyone who wants to go solar in Montgomery County? They can join the group at www.mdsun.org/rockville.

 

No Confederate Flags in Rockville, but What About the Statue?

Confederate Soldier Memorial at Red Brick Courthouse, Rockville.

Confederate Soldier Memorial at the Red Brick Courthouse, Rockville.

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

Is Your Neighborhood Safe?

Rockville CrimeReports.com 2014You can figure this out for yourself at CrimeReports.com.  The Montgomery County Police Department shares their crime reports (which includes the City of Rockville) with CrimeReports, a private firm based in Utah, which combines it with police departments from around the country to display the information on an interactive map.

The map show various colored and lettered icons so you can quickly spot where things happened in your neighborhood.  For example, A is for Assault, TV is Theft from a Vehicle, and R is Robbery.  You can also choose the time period to examine as well as zoom in or out (or check out what’s happening elsewhere in the country–it’s a national database).  If you know something about an incident or crime, you can share an anonymous tip.

Do be aware there are some weaknesses in the map:

  • There seems to be a 24-48 hour delay.  If something happened today, it probably won’t show up until tomorrow or the next day.
  • Locations are not exact.  It records where the report was taken, not necessarily where the incident occurred.  For the sake of victim privacy, all crime addresses have been rounded to the block level (e.g. 800 block of Viers Mill Road).
  • There are no details.  For example, it’ll tell you the approximate location and time of an assault or robbery, but not identify the victims, mention if anyone was arrested, what was stolen, or the extent of injuries (e.g, punched? stabbed? hospitalized?). CrimeReports relies on individual law enforcement agencies to provide details on crimes. Each agency is different and may provide more or less crime information than others. At minimum, CrimeReports requires four items of information when mapping crimes: type, location, date, and time. All additional information is voluntarily supplied by individual law enforcement agencies.
  • It may not be complete.  On Monday, July 21, Janice Land and John Land of the 1600 block of Crawford Drive were arrested with two counts of vulnerable adult abuse and attempted false imprisonment (keeping their twin 22-year old autistic sons locked in the basement).  The incident made national news, but doesn’t show up on the map at all. Maybe tomorrow?

If you want further details, contact the Montgomery County Police Department at (240) 773-5330.  Thanks to Crime Analyst Sherri Hendry of the Rockville Police Department for sharing this resource.

Is Rockville one of America’s Snobbiest Cities?

Movoto Snobbiest Cities 2014According to the criteria used by Movoto Real Estate, Rockville, Maryland ranks among the top ten snobbiest small cities in America.  Palo Alto, California (in Silicon Valley) tops the list with our neighbor down the Pike, Bethesda, coming in second.  Is that good or bad company?  According to Movoto:

Tied with Encinitas [California], this Maryland locale had some seriously snooty stats keeping it in the ranking for best hometowns for the highbrow. For starters, locals can send their little ones to elite private schools, the fifth most per capita on our list. And once Junior has accrued all this handy knowledge,they can flex their artistically-inclined minds at one of the numerous art galleries or museums in the area.  More than that, people who live here are likely to continue on to academic greatness, with over 61 percent of the population gaining at least a college degree. With all of that education and study going on, is it any wonder that the elite locals make an average household income of almost $90,000?

California has the greatest number of snobbiest small cities (five, all of them along the Pacific coast)  and Maryland has the next most frequent number (two, both along the DC coast).  The ranking is based on median home price, median household income, percent of population with a college degree, number of private schools per capita, performing arts per capita, art galleries per capita, and fast food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better).  Of course, there’s nothing scientific here and these “top ten” rankings are just different ways to think about places.  Perhaps “snobbiest” isn’t the best term, indeed, Movoto clarifies the definition by describing them as places that are “just more comfortable for what society calls ‘snobby’ folks.”  If not “snobby,” based on our ranking on these criteria, what would you call it?

Is the new Children’s Resource Center right for Twinbrook?

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Montgomery County is proposing to add a new Children’s Resource Center (CRC) for the school district on the former Broome Middle School campus on Twinbrook Parkway in Rockville.  There have been a series of public meetings about the project and the County held its fourth and last meeting on January 25, 2014.  They presented four conceptual designs for the front elevations for review and comment.  About a dozen residents attended along with City Councilmember Beryl Feinberg and the chief of staff of County Councilmember Andrews.

Basically, the building consists of two blocks of different sizes joined by a tower.  The designs show different “skins” of a varying mix of materials and colors.  It’s not supposed to complement the existing Broome School because that’s slated for demolition and the replacement school hasn’t been designed, so I’m assuming the design of the CRC will set the pace for the new middle school.  The Gazette reported that the county believed that, “the people at the meeting seemed to prefer Scheme 2” but having attended the meeting, that’s a gross overstatement.  My sense is that we were still gathering information and had lots of questions.  There didn’t seem to be a preference for what we liked but rather what we didn’t like.  No one was enthusiastic about Continue reading →

Capital Bikeshare Launched in downtown Rockville

A crowd gathers in downtown Rockville for the launch of Capitol Bikeshare.

A crowd gathers in downtown Rockville for the launch of Capital Bikeshare.

Capital Bikeshare, the popular bike rental program in DC, has jumped the Beltway and into downtown Rockville. This morning a crowd gathered near the Red Brick Courthouse to witness the launch of this fun and healthy program in our hometown.  Although the program doesn’t provide the transportation connections I had hoped for (there’s nothing in the south end of Rockville for the Twinbrook Metro station), I’m still delighted that it’s here and we’re part of a larger regional network.

Capital Bikeshare puts over 1800+ bicycles at 200+ stations across Washington, D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, VA and Montgomery County, MD.   Check out a bike for your trip to work, Metro, run errands, go shopping, or visit friends and family and return it to any station near your destination.  Join Capital Bikeshare for a day, 3 days, a month, a year or try their new daily key option, and have access to their fleet of bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The first 30 minutes of each trip are free. Each additional 30 minutes incurs an additional fee of $1.50 to 2.00, depending on your membership level.

Capital Bikeshare Coming to Rockville (somewhat)

Capital Bikeshare station in Washington, DC.

Capital Bikeshare station in Washington, DC.

The City of Rockville has announced that Capital Bikeshare is coming to Rockville in early fall with 13 bike stations through a partnership with Montgomery County.  Capital Bikeshare is a network of bicycle-sharing stations that provides access to bikes and offers an alternative to driving.  Check out a bike for your trip to work, run errands, go shopping, explore a neighborhood, head to a park, or visit friends and family.

Through bikesharing, cyclists can rent a bike from a designated station and drop it off at any other station within the Capital Bikeshare network. The  program currently has more than 1,800 bikes at over 200 stations in circulation across Washington, D.C. and Virginia.  It’s been incredibly popular in Washington, DC with both residents and tourists, and I’m happy to see it come into Rockville.

The bike stations in Rockville will be some of the first locations for Capital Bikeshare in Maryland. Proposed locations in Rockville include:

  • Campus Drive and Mannakee Street
  • Piccard Drive and West Gude Drive
  • Rockville Metro – East
  • Rockville Metro – West
  • Courthouse Square and East Montgomery Avenue
  • Fallsgrove Drive and West Montgomery Avenue
  • Fleet Street and Ritchie Parkway
  • King Farm Boulevard and Piccard Drive
  • King Farm Boulevard and Pleasant Drive
  • Monroe Street and Monroe Place
  • Spring Avenue and Lenmore Avenue
  • Taft Street and East Gude Drive
  • Fallsgrove Boulevard and Fallsgrove Drive
Proposed stations for Capital Bikeshare on a Google Map with bike routes.

Proposed stations for Capital Bikeshare on a Google Map with bike routes. Click to enlarge.

I’ve plotted these locations (plus Shady Grove Metro, which is outside of Rockville but will be part of the BikeShare network) on a bike-route-version of Google Maps to better understand the impact on and benefit to Rockville.  Google Maps can identify bike routes, with a Continue reading →

Farmers Market opens in Twinbrook on May 7

A weekday farmers market sponsored by The JBG Companies will open in Twinbrook May 7, bringing an array of new fresh food choices to the community and to the many daytime employees that work in the busy area.

First offerings in the market will feature farm fresh fruits and vegetables from Twin Springs Fruit Farm, handmade artisan breads from Upper Crust Bakery and traditionally cured meats from MeatCrafters. More farm vendors are expected, along with artists and their wares. The arrival of the farmers market will complement the growing presence of mobile food trucks, which are also adding new food options on weekdays in Twinbrook. Both initiatives result from the desire of Twinbrook residents and area workers for a variety of attractions as new offices and residential options arrive.

“Twinbrook is fortunate to have the bones of strong neighborhoods, good transit, roads and workforce,” said Rod Lawrence of The JBG Companies, a major real estate investment and development firm based in Montgomery County. “If we can contribute to the daily working and living experience here with new food options, that’s an extra dimension that makes Twinbrook an even better community.”

The new farmers market will be open from 9:30 to 1:30 every Tuesday, May through November in the courtyard between 5625 and 5635 Fishers Lane, just east of the Twinbrook Metro station.

JBG recently hosted a Saturday clean-up of Rock Creek Park at its Twinbrook edge, removing more than 5,000 pounds of debris from the stream bed and hillsides. The company has also scheduled a pit stop on Bike-to-Work Day on May 17, at the east end of Fishers Lane. More than 60 people have already signed up for that event and more are welcome by registering at www.twinbrookurbanbynature.com.

New Mark Commons is not So Common

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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.