Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Summary Notes - Neighborhoods Commitee - June 2007

Summary Notes
Neighborhoods Committee
June 18, 2007 – 7:00 pm – Silver Spring Regional Center

Attending: Alan Bowser; Charlotte Coffield, Lyttonsville Civic Association; Martha Waddy, New Hampshire Estates Civic Association; Chris Richardson, Park Hills Civic Association; Wayne Goldstein, Montgomery County Civic Federation; Lisa Dubay, The Johns Hopkins University; Mary Bradford, MNCPPC; Stuart Moore, Old Blair Auditorium Project; Gretchen Hilburger, CSAFE; Jim Neustadt, WSSC; Kira Calm Lewis, WSSC; Calvin Farr, WSSC; Jennifer Deseo, Silver Spring Penguin; Lt. Steve Auger, MCPD; and Mel Tull, Silver Spring Regional Services Center.

Report on June Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board Meeting and May Neighborhoods Committee Meeting: Alan Bowser reviewed the actions taken by the Board at the June 11th. The Board welcomed the new 3rd District Commander Don Johnson. The Board adopted letters recognizing the contributions of 3rd District Commander, MCPD, Betsy Davis and former Silver Spring Regional Services Center Assistant Director Muriel Bowser. The Board held its annual elections: Debbie Spielberg, Chair; Kathy Stevens, Executive Vice Chair, Mary Pat Spon, Secretary; Eric Hensal, Parliamentary Vice Chair. At the last meeting of the Neighborhoods Committee, in addition to its regular public safety updates, the Committee continued its review of historic preservation issues, with briefings by Marcie Stickle, Mary Reardon, and Thomas Kinney, Gov. Silver Spring Moose Lodge. The Committee was briefed on developments regarding the athletic fields at Nolte Park. The Committee elected Anita Morrison and Alan Bowser as co-Chairs of the Neighborhoods Committee.

Public Safety Update. Lt. Steve Auger, MCPD, briefed the Committee on recent public safety developments in Silver Spring. He reported significant thefts from cars on Sligo Avenue. He said that there was no significant increase in crime in the Central Business District. In response to a question, he said that the suspension of several MCPD officers would not have a significant adverse impact on police coverage in Silver Spring.

Northwest Park/Oakview Weed & Seed Program. Martha Waddy reported on developments with the Northwest Park Oakview Weed and Seed program. She said that neighborhood associations and Neighborhood Watch Programs were being established in the Weed and Seed area. Gretchen Hilburger, CSAFE, briefed the Committee on the CSAFE project to establish an artistic mural at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Piney Branch Road. The Committee endorsed the project and agreed to recommend a letter in support to the full Board.

Nolte Park – Update and Next Steps. Mary Bradford, Director of Parks, MNCPPC, discussed the tentative conclusions of her investigation into the use of contaminated soil in the Nolte Park field renovation project. She said that more investigative works needs to be done to discover how the contaminated soil was not discovered by Parks personnel before it was placed on the field. She said that the entire supply chain would be studied and evaluated, and that new procedures would be put in place to reduce the possibility of this type of event from reoccurring in the future. In response to questions from Committee members, she said that Parks will do more to improve communications with the public and to facilitate public reporting of problems in the parks. She said that the Department had a new website-- .

Silver Spring Sanitary Sewage Overflow – Impact on Parks. Jim Neustadt, Communications Director of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) briefed the Committee on a recent sanitary sewage overflow on Second Avenue in Silver Spring. The overflow, occurring behind the Silver Spring Post Office, ran down to Rock Creek Park with significant impact. WSSC says that there was good communications between WSSC, the NPS, and WASA. WSSC also provided a follow up report on last year’s Sligo Creek spill. Recent discolored water in Sligo Creek has been traced back to City Place by the County’s Department of Environmental Protection. Committee members asked questions about signage, communication between agencies, getting information to neighborhoods, and WSSC infrastructure requirements and funding.

Old Blair Auditorium. Stuart Moore, President, Old Blair Auditorium Project, briefed the Committee on developments regarding the Old Blair Auditorium. The Old Blair Auditorium was once a major performing arts venue in Silver Spring, Maryland, and was one of the best-used facilities in the greater D.C. area. The auditorium, located in the former Montgomery Blair High School building at the corner of Dale Drive and Wayne Avenue, has been boarded up and now sits unused. “Our project aims to breathe life back into the auditorium and make the auditorium available for community use. Thanks to the energetic efforts of County Councilmember Valerie Ervin and her staff, we've started working with the Montgomery County Public Schools, the Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families, and several County agencies to determine how to optimally use the facility -- not just for performing arts and school uses -- but also for the benefit of youth and families in our community. The boarded up portion of the building includes more than just seats and a stage -- there are office, hallway, and storage spaces, as well. We believe that all of the space can and should be put to good use. The State bond bill funding ($600k) was extended through June 2009. We have submitted a request for $500k to the Federal Funding. Congressman Wynn has toured the auditorium and announced his support for the funding, but noted that it may take subsequent requests to be successful. We are planning our capital campaign to raise $500k from the private sector.” Comments from Councilmember Valerie Ervin. “One of my priorities is to revive the Old Blair Auditorium, (located at Silver Spring International Middle School) by creating a mixed-use facility for the performing arts, in-school and after school programs, and community use space. During the past six months, I have worked with Old Blair Auditorium Inc. to identify community partners who are looking for space. These partners include the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), the Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth, and Families, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Department of Recreation, the Silver Spring YMCA, and other local non-profits.

MCPS has written a letter of intent to help restore the facility and has agreed to conduct a new space analysis which incorporates each partner's programmatic needs, while retaining the auditorium as a major venue for the performing arts. At the federal level, I have requested support from Senators Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and have met with Congressman Albert Wynn, who is fully supportive of the project. “

Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza Update. Alan Bowser briefed the Committee on the recent developments regarding the Civic Building and Veterans Plaza. The Planning Board was scheduled to consider the County Government’s site plan on June 21, 2007. (Note: The Planning Board approved the site plan on June 21, 2007).

Silver Spring Parking Meter Issue. At the request of Marcie Stickle, the Committee noted a County Government plan to change parking meter policies in Silver Spring. The matter will be considered by the Board’s Commercial and Economic Development Committee.

Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 pm.

Next Meeting: July 16, 2006.

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