Mayor and Council to Consider Changes to Mayor and Council
At its Monday, December 12, 2022 meeting, the Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss the FY22 financial report and the FY24 budget priorities. On the Consent Calendar (items approved without discussion) are a dozen items, including easements, services, grant agreement, and the tenth amendment to the interim management agreement with Morguard for Rockville Town Square, among others. The Mayor and Council will also receive reports on priorities with the District 17 Delegation and recommendations from the 2020-22 Charter Review Commission.
The Charter Review Commission has developed recommendations for a wide variety of issues related to the City Charter (its constitution), including expanding the size of the City Council, term limits for councilmembers, alternative voting systems, translation of election materials, the scope and size of the Board of Supervisors of Elections, and increasing voter turnout. After forty meetings and interruptions due to the pandemic, the Commission is recommending that,
“the City maintain the status-quo on several topics (e.g., staggered Council terms and alternative methods of advertising elections), the Commission is also recommending bolder changes to City policy and operations in order to enhance accountability and transparency, increase voter turnout, and advance racial equity and social justice. Notably, the Commission is recommending such reforms as an increase in the size of the Council, implementation of term limits on the Mayor and Council, creation of representative districts, exploring changing the time of the election, and allowing residents who are not United States citizens and those at least 16 years of age to vote in municipal elections.”
More details in the 465-page agenda packet are available at https://www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12122022-6765.
Heard on the street: things are heating up in the West End neighborhood regarding design guidelines proposed by the West End Citizens Association. I suspect this is related to the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. A website opposed to WECA’s action can be found at PreserveTheWestEnd.com.
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 →
Community Meeting on New Development Downtown
Rockville Town Center, LLC, the owner of the property at 255 North Washington Street (at Beall Avenue) is holding a community Area Meeting at 6:30 pm on Thursday, December 5, 2013 in the Black-eyed Susan Room in City Hall to discuss their development plans and allow the community to ask questions and provide suggestions. They propose to demolish the existing five-story bank/office building and replace it with a six-story residential/retail building that includes 280 multi-family dwelling units, 6200 square feet of ground floor commercial space, and a parking garage, as follows: Continue reading →
Live Music in and around Rockville
When Rockvillians are looking for live music, their tendency is to look south towards Silver Spring, DC, or, heavens! across the Potomac. Well, those are great places–who can argue with the concerts at the Kennedy Center, The Fillmore, 9:30 Club, Wolftrap, or the Birchmere. But there are plenty of great places for seriously good music in and around Rockville if you know where to look and when to show up. In no particular order, here’s my list of concert venues and presenters of good live music:
- The Institute of Musical Traditions may be based in Takoma Park but it holds a concert series of Celtic, folk, bluegrass, and Creole music at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church (they call it Rockville, but it’s south of White Flint on Old Georgetown Road, so perhaps North Bethesda or South Rockville). Takes a break during the summer. Tickets run $15-20.
- Unplugged on the Rooftop, a Tuesday night concert series in Town Square featuring a mix of established and undiscovered local bands, such as The Digits and Meredith Seidel. Admission free, cash bar.
- Wine Down is a Thursday night series from June through August that features live acoustic music while sampling wine and food from the nearby restaurants. Free.
- Friday Night Live starts the weekends from May through September with free outdoor concerts (mostly rock from the 80s and 90s) in Rockville Town Square on Friday nights.
- Focus Music presents concerts of acoustic traditional and contemporary folk music at three locations around DC, including the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockville.
- Folk ‘N Great Music hosts intimate house concerts every other month on a Saturday evening (yup, in houses around Rockville and it’s the very first unionized house concert series in the US). Next concert in June. Reservations required, donations encouraged.
- Maryland Summer Jazz Festival, now in its eighth year, includes public concerts and a jazz camp in July. Not exactly sure of the location but I suspect it’s somewhere in the south end of Rockville judging from the list of sponsors.
- Rockville Concert Band, Potomac Valley Youth Orchestra, and other musical groups perform at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater in Rockville’s Civic Center Park throughout the year. Admission fees vary and most recommend reservations.
- Also in Civic Center Park, Glenview Mansion hosts monthly concerts on Sunday afternoons in its conservatory. Admission free.
- Music Center at Strathmore is certainly of the region’s crown jewels and just ten minutes from my house. It has two venues: the large new concert hall and the intimate music room in the historic mansion. Both present amazing performances by some of the leading artists in the country as well as being a home for the National Philharmonic (Rockville’s own Piotr Gajewski is conductor), Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Washington Performing Arts Society.
- Hometown Holidays, a regional event hosted by the City of Rockville, takes place over Memorial Day weekend with something like forty free concerts on eight stages (this year’s headliner is country singer Easton Corbin), along with lots of food, craft booths, and of course a parade.
Wow, there’s plenty here in Rockville to keep your feet tapping all year but I’d love to make it a dozen. If I missed a local concert venue or presenter (local means within two miles of the Red Brick Courthouse), please share it in the comments below.
Exploring Rockville’s Downtowns on May 7
I’ll be leading a 1.5-hour walking tour of Rockville’s downtowns for Peerless Rockville on Saturday, May 7 at 10 am. Wear comfortable shoes, be prepared for the weather, and consider enjoying lunch afterwards (unfortunately, some of the tour is not accessible to persons with limited mobility). Space is limited so please register in advance with Peerless Rockville.