Monday, September 29, 2008

Unrivaled Funding Deal Goes To Council - Washington Post

Rezoning Needed For Music Hall In Silver Spring

By Miranda S. Spivack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 29, 2008; B01

When Montgomery County Council members today examine a plan to bring Live Nation to downtown Silver Spring, they will be considering a deal unlike any the county has made before.

Until now, Montgomery has funded only nonprofit arts and entertainment organizations, usually by constructing their buildings, acting as their landlord, and making grants to keep them afloat. It has not directly subsidized a for-profit enterprise such as Live Nation, a publicly traded entertainment company that had $4.18 billion in revenue in 2007.

Nor have county officials before asked the planning agency to put aside customary oversight of new development and approve part of a project without seeing the whole. The council and the state legislature already have agreed to spend $8 million in public funds to build a music hall for Live Nation to hold rock-style concerts for about 2,000 standing patrons at the Colesville Road venue. The next step is for the council to approve a zoning change, which members will begin debating today.

A council majority appears to have coalesced around the plans, although some still have questions.

The deal requires the county and state to pay to construct the $8 million building. The county would own it and rent it to Live Nation for $7,500 a month. Live Nation would spend about $2 million outfitting the inside of the hall, which they are dubbing Fillmore Silver Spring. Lee Development Group would donate the former J.C. Penney facade and land, worth about $3.5 million.

The Leggett administration estimates the project would provide at least $1 million annually in taxes and additional spillover benefits to local businesses.

To cement the deal, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) promises to:

· Require the county to absorb most cost overruns or lower Live Nation's rent if the company pays for overruns.

· Loosen county liquor laws to allow Live Nation to serve alcohol and light fare prepared off site, a rarity in Montgomery where liquor licenses and sales are tightly controlled by county government. Only the Strathmore music center, which hosts symphony and dance performances and other concerts, has a similar arrangement.

· Allow Lee Development to retain development rights for a project on the remainder of the property for 15 to 18 years, more than twice the usual time, while limiting planning board oversight of eventual plans.

· Waive a county requirement that up to 20 percent of the property be set aside as public-use space, customarily outdoor space. Instead, the deal would use the Live Nation building, about 14 percent, as the required public-use space for the undesigned, adjacent Lee project. The Live Nation building also would be considered the Lees' public amenity, avoiding a separate requirement for green space, landscaping or other enhancements negotiated between the builder and the planning board in exchange for greater density.

· Provide Live Nation with about $800,000 annually in tax breaks and an opportunity to profit from a sale of naming rights.

· Limit the county's leverage to change the deal, because the Lees would own the property until the building is constructed.

As with nonprofit groups the county is supporting, the county also would allow Live Nation to lease the venue to others and keep the rent money, estimated at $6,000 a night. Live Nation would provide about 36 more nights a year at a reduced rent to community groups, in the range of $1,200 a night, depending on market conditions. The county at times would use the hall at a reduced rental or for free. Live Nation would donate $30,000 annually to help pay for a downtown Silver Spring festival. "We are very committed to Fillmore Silver Spring," spokesman John Vlautin said.

"This is a really good deal for the county," said Leggett's top aide, Timothy Firestine, who formerly headed the county's finance department. The proposal is similar to a plan crafted during the administration of former county executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) to try to attract the Birchmere music hall to Silver Spring. That fell apart last year after five years of negotiations.

Nearby in the District, developer Douglas Jemal said he has been trying for a decade to get Live Nation to come to Washington. He said he hopes to entice a House of Blues, another Live Nation brand, to the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood.

"They are like Whole Foods. They change the whole environment in an area," Jemal said. He expects Live Nation to seek aid from the District government before any deal is finalized. "They don't come for nothing. Everybody wants them."

But the Silver Spring proposal has encountered some vocal critics. In July, the county planning board voted 5 to 0 to recommend against the land-use portion of the deal. Last week, a council staff lawyer raised similar concerns. Planning board chairman Royce Hanson called the proposal a "blank check" for the Lees, even though he would like to see Live Nation come to Silver Spring. Hanson also said that the Leggett administration's proposal would slow development in downtown Silver Spring, not stimulate it by allowing the Lees to retain density and traffic allocations but not use them for years. That could delay other developers until the Lees decide to build.

Council legislative attorney Jeffrey Zyontz said the proposal would cut down on required public-use space, usually outdoors and free to anyone walking by, in exchange for more indoor space that people have to pay to enter. The greatest impact, he said, would be in Silver Spring and potential projects in Bethesda.

"The council must decide if that exchange is in the public interest," Zyontz advised.

Leggett aide Diane Schwartz Jones, who is shepherding the deal, praised the zoning measure "as a means of getting land for free to provide cultural opportunities while correcting some existing urban decay. . . . This is a tool to do something to help the communities and area businesses."

Until the Live Nation proposal surfaced, the county had only once before, indirectly, helped a for-profit entertainment company. In 2006, the council approved a Duncan administration $2 million economic development grant to the Bethesda Theater Alliance. The alliance owns the renovated art deco Bethesda Theater, which is managed by Broadway's Nederlander company.

To attract Live Nation, which describes itself as "the largest producer of live music concerts in the world," Montgomery patterned parts of its proposal after agreements it has made with nonprofit arts organizations. Round House Theatre and the American Film Institute in Silver Spring, Strathmore in Kensington and Imagination Stage in Bethesda occupy county-owned buildings either constructed or renovated by Montgomery. They are allowed to earn income, as would Live Nation, from renting out the county-owned venues. AFI takes in more than $200,000 annually in rentals, and Round House Theatre collects about $90,000.

The county's experience as a construction manager and landlord at the other entertainment venues has been mixed. The potential for cost overruns at the Live Nation site is unknown.

When the county built Strathmore several years ago, it came in nearly 100 percent over original estimates of $50 million to $60 million. The public paid most of the $100 million in costs, although some money was donated by private sources. For Live Nation, Jones said the county would cut back design features to control costs, if necessary.

Five council members have indicated that they will back the deal: Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville), Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring), Nancy Floreen (D-At large), George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) and Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At large).

"The project will be good for Silver Spring in a lot of ways," Ervin said. "I think people will look back and say we did the right thing."

Don Praisner (D-Eastern County) and council president Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty) have expressed reservations but are thought to be leaning in favor.

Two council skeptics say the plans don't do enough to reward the county for its role. "I find some of the demands to be unreasonable," said council member Marc Elrich (D-At large). Council member Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) called it "a bad business deal that has morphed into a bad land-use deal."

Bruce Lee, of Lee Development Group, is frustrated by the critics.

"This is a backwards deal where the county came to us asking us to consider donating very valuable land, well ahead of any future project. They have never done that before. It does require a lot of thinking outside the box. We are simply asking for protections," he said.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Disruption to come with transit center construction - Gazette

Bus stops will move as work begins on $91 million dollar Silver Spring facility

by Jason Tomassini | Staff Writer | Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008

After more than 10 years of planning, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held Friday for the Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center, with significant changes for commuters and pedestrians beginning Sunday.

The $91 million project at Wayne Avenue and Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring will provide a central location for Metro trains, MARC trains, taxis and bus services including Ride-On, Metro, VanGo, University of Maryland and Montgomery College. The project also will accommodate a future Purple Line station.

Construction on the project, which will begin next month, will displace many bus stops, with temporary bus shelters to be installed along Wayne and Dixon avenues and Bonifant Street.

Nine Ride-On stops will be along Bonifant, while 11 Metro stops will be along Wayne. Six stops serving both Ride-On and Metro buses will be along Dixon; two stops along Wayne will also service two Ride-On lines each. In all, there will be 25 stops equipped with shelters.

VanGo bus services will come in and out of a stop near the corner of Wayne and Ramsey avenues, as well as a stop near the Metro entrance. University of Maryland shuttle services will run out of a stop near the corner of Bonifant and Dixon.

Taxis will be located on Ramsey Avenue near the intersection with Wayne. There will be no changes to MTA commuter bus stops or routes.

More than 80,000 bilingual brochures outlining the changes to bus routes will be distributed on buses and at transit stations in the downtown, said Gary Stith, director of the Silver Spring Regional Center.

For the first few weeks, transit personnel will be on hand to direct commuters. Throughout construction, crossing guards will be on duty during morning and afternoon rushes. Members from Silver Spring's Clean and Safe Team also will patrol the area to help commuters and manage the site.

"It's iffy that it will operate smoothly, but we are going to [try the best] we can to make it happen," Stith said. "If you are driving through Silver Spring, stay away from Wayne Avenue."

In the initial stages of construction, Stith said access to the Metro station at 8400 Colesville Road will be available only along Wayne with plans to eventually open Bonifant to pedestrians as well. The MARC platform on Bonifant must be accessed from the south rather than the north during construction.

"It may take a little bit of time for our customers to get used to it," said Steven Taubenkibel, a spokesman for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. "But … these are savvy users that will know quickly where to go to get the train or bus."

The Silver Spring Commuter Express Store has been relocated to 8413 Ramsey Ave. and renamed TriPS (Transportation, Resources, Information and Places to See). The TRiPS store sells bus passes and tokens for Ride On and Metrobus, SmarTrip Cards, Metrorail and MetroAccess farecards.

Businesses downtown have met with transit center planners for three years to limit the impact of construction, said Jane Redicker, president of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce.

"Signage and wayfinding are really the most important things," Redicker said. "Initially, that is one of the things we talked about, making sure people could find where new buses are from where the old buses were."

The chamber gave input to planners on signage and bus stop locations that would minimize auto and pedestrian traffic near businesses, Redicker said.

When construction is finished, the transit center will be a great asset for Silver Spring residents, but the volume of people continuously around the construction site could lead to problems, said Darian Unger, chairman of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board.

"This is going to be extraordinarily difficult," Unger said. "We are expecting a good transit center when it's over.

"I want the construction to be as trouble-free as possible, but I doubt it will be trouble-free."

Unger said he was pleased with the lobbying of Silver Spring residents and officials to keep many important design elements like streetscaping and "green" features in the project plans. The Montgomery County Council approved an additional $18.6 million for the transit center in July after it came in over budget. The project is being developed by Rockville-based Foulger-Pratt.

The transit center will also include housing and a hotel.

Along with the county's 1.5-acre Veterans Plaza and Civic Building project at the corner of Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive, which began construction Sept. 10, the transit center is another public project that will attract private development, Stith said.

"Having good transportation services in an urban setting are critical to its success," he said. "People need to get to work and get to where they live."

Arts and Humanities makes a Magical Montgomery - Gazette

Downtown Silver Spring to host annual festival of music, performance arts, fine arts and activities

by Jason Tomassini | Staff Writer |Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008

Everything from paintings by local artists to Irish folk music to children creating their own CD cases will be on tap this Saturday at the eighth-annual Magical Montgomery festival in downtown Silver Spring.

The event, sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Downtown Silver Spring and the Silver Spring Regional Center, will be held 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Ellsworth Drive.

More than 100 booths with information, activities and items for sale will be set up at the event, represented by local organizations and about 25 crafts vendors.

"I've always been extremely impressed with the incredible array of diverse and fabulous talent that this region holds," said Suzan Jenkins, the first-year CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council, who has attended Magical Montgomery as a resident. "It's always exciting to learn about the different types of work you can see in the area."

There will be two stages with live entertainment. The Town Center Stage at the corner of Ellsworth and Fenton Street will feature a general assortment of acts while the Montgomery Traditions Stage will feature folk and traditional performances, said Elizabeth Gallauresi, an event planner with the county.

Performances will include Irish-themed Pete Moss and the Bog Band at 4 p.m. on the Traditions stage, Indian classical dance from Kuchipudi Kalanidhi at 2 p.m. on the Traditions stage and the final performance of the event, Washington, D.C.-based Euphonism, a vocal band at 6 p.m. on the Town Center stage. There are 17 performances scheduled between the two stages.

Dozens of performing arts groups and organizations will have booths with information and activities for festival-goers. The Strathmore Music Center in Rockville will give children the opportunity to decorate their own CD cases. The North Bethesda-based Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra – which will perform at 5:30 on the Town Center stage – also will have an "instrument petting zoo" where participants can try classical instruments. Adventure Theater, a performing arts organization from Glen Echo, is offering arts and crafts activities themed around their fall shows.

Another main feature of Magical Montgomery is its artists' market, where local vendors can sell crafts and artwork.

Gallauresi said about 25 vendors are expected, all of which were approved by the Arts and Humanities Council, which screened prospective vendors for participation in the event. Only vendors from the county were accepted.

There also will be a contest with cash prizes given out to vendors based on quality and presentation of the work. First prize is $500. Last year's first-prize winner, weaver Anne Sanderoff-Walker, will return this year to offer her line of scarves and jackets, while also providing a weaving demonstration for visitors interested in the craft.

Sanderoff-Walker, a Montgomery Blair High School graduate who now works out of her home in Gaithersburg, said the festival is an inexpensive opportunity to gain new customers.

"It's getting the word out about my art," said Sanderoff-Walker, who will be a part of Magical Montgomery for the second time. "I'm also a big supporter of arts in Montgomery County … there should be more opportunities for local artisans to sell their work."

The cost for Sanderoff-Walker to reserve her booth with an early registration was just $100 and she paid an extra $100 to have the chance at a "premium booth" in a higher traffic area of the festival.

Stephen Estrada, who will participate in the event for the first time this year, will have 25 to 30 nature-themed paintings at his booth. He said the event is another example of the county improving accommodations for local artists.

"I think that the opportunities in the county just continue to grow for artists," said Estrada, a painter from Silver Spring. "If you look at downtown Silver Spring, there is clearly a market and desire to have a really lively arts community."

For more information about the event call 301-565-3805. Go to

Hispanic health festival draws thousands - Gazette

by Amber Parcher | Staff Writer | Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008

Despite the music, Latin food and a soccer tournament, the largest crowd at the county's Hispanic health festival at Wheaton Regional Park gathered around a group of medical volunteers and physicians.

More than 130 adults lined up at the table run by the National Kidney Foundation for a free comprehensive health screening during Saturday's festival — a test that usually costs about $100, officials said.

The mostly Hispanic crowd was receiving an important message at the table, said Sonia Mora, the program manager for the county's Latino health initiative: Prevention is the best way to stay healthy.

"By coming and getting checked out, it gets them in the habit of doing screenings on a regular basis," which is vital to staying healthy in a population that is especially threatened by America's obesity epidemic, Mora said.

Mora said diabetes disproportionately affects Hispanics. Many Latinos are overweight and many more don't have a regular doctor or health insurance that can help them address the problem, even as their children become more obese, she said.

More than 52 private and public organizations, such as county police, Washington Adventist and Holy Cross hospitals and local health care clinics, participated in the Ama Tu Vida, translated as "Love Your Life," festival to help educate almost 3,500 Hispanics on how to live a healthy life.

But the key to a successful festival was more than education, Mora said. It was taking action to help a community that usually waits until it's too late to be proactive about their health.

Every person with an abnormal test result had a consultation with a physician and was sent to another booth to make an appointment with a free local health care clinic.

"They have a connection immediately to a health care provider that's going to serve them even if they're low income and if they don't have insurance," she said.

Teresa Valdivia was one of those people using the health festival for both education and action. Valdivia, a diabetic, was looking for a booth where she could get her ear and eye checked out because they were bothering her. While there, the Olney resident said she wanted to learn more about the symptoms of her disease so she could share that information with her friends and family.

Valdivia said she hoped that knowing the consequences of diabetes could help someone else take control of their health to avoid the disease.

"I've understood the best health is prevention," she said in Spanish, echoing Mora's words.

Both Valdivia and Veronica Ontiveros, a resident of Mexico City who is visiting the area, said they were impressed with how the 300 volunteers communicated the festival's message — a rather sensitive topic for a fairly machismo culture.

Instead of scaring people into eating right and walking more, there was a real dialogue about how to live a healthier live, Ontiveros said.

"They let you know without being, ‘Oh, you are going to die,'" she said.

Planners approve two school additions - Gazette

Takoma Park, East Silver Spring elementaries to expand to relieve overcrowding at Piney Branch

by Jeremy Arias | Staff Writer |Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008

The Montgomery County Planning Board tentatively approved measures Thursday allowing two area elementary schools to make additions to their facilities beginning in the summer of 2009.

The board voted unanimously in favor of Montgomery County Public Schools' plans to add about 30,000 square feet to East Silver Spring Elementary at 631 Silver Spring Ave. and renovate 3,857 square feet of the building. Takoma Park Elementary School at 7511 Holly Ave. will get a 34,995-square-foot addition.

Both measures passed with minimal debate, but as mandatory referrals the hearings were nonbinding steps in the process toward the start of construction. The Planning Board will pass its recommendations back to the county school system and possibly the County Council for final review, according to Planning Board spokeswoman Valerie Berton.

The East Silver Spring campus presented the $10.8 million addition project in order to accommodate about 150 additional students by 2013. The school plans to shift from a pre-kindergarten through second-grade facility to include grades 3 and 5.

A two-story addition to the north side of the building will include kindergarten classes and a two-story addition to the east side will hold classrooms and music space. In all, eight classrooms will be added to the school and the addition will total about 30,000 square feet.

The parking lot just north of the school will be increased from 32 spaces to 52 and a reconfigured drop-off loop will contain 36 spaces.

"I don't mind saying that I agree that you should be doing this," said board member Jean Cryor. "I'm particularly pleased that you're [trying] to make this a better school by making it more than a K-2 school."

Principal Adrienne Morrow said the chance to retain students past the second grade would help ensure the students' success in middle school.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to work very closely with our students," she said. "To instill in them the skills they need to be successful when it comes to math acceleration, reaching benchmarks for reading as well as to prepare our students to be proficient for [the Maryland State Assessment tests]."

While Takoma Park will remain a pre-kindergarten through second-grade school, both additions aim to relieve overcrowding at nearby Piney Branch Elementary School, according to MCPS officials.

An 11,200-square-foot, four-classroom annex building at Takoma Park Elementary will be demolished to make way for an addition to the rear of the school. The school currently has eight portable classrooms, which will be replaced by four play areas, according to the site plan. Sixteen regular classrooms, plus speech support, English for Speakers of Other Languages and other support space will be included in the addition, which will total about 35,000 square feet.

Access to the school will be modified with a parent pick-up/drop-off area off Holly Avenue just north of the school and a new bus loop off Holly Avenue south of the school. A total of 82 parking spaces and five buses will be accommodated on the site.

Project Manager Ray Marhamati said the $13.8 million Takoma Park addition will require students and staff to relocate to the Grosvenor Center, a temporary holding site set up by the school system, for the duration of the construction from the summer of 2009 through the following summer.

Some debate arose when Takoma Park resident and school alumni Ian Barclay protested the decision to remove a large magnolia tree near the main entrance of Takoma Park Elementary. MCPS and city officials said three arborists had examined the tree and concluded that it would be impossible to transplant.

"All their supposed experts I'd bet you have never been involved in a large-scale tree transplant," Barclay said. He cited the example of a tree that was transplanted from a schoolyard in Alabama.

The board opted to avoid a prolonged debate by adding a condition to the agreement requiring MCPS to consult another arborist to examine the tree. All in all, Marhamati said the referrals went well.

"We're doing the best we can to provide for environmental concerns, to be good neighbors and to provide facilities for our students," he said of the school system's plans.

Takoma Park Elementary Assistant Principal Bill Kerlina agreed that the tree was likely a lost cause, but supported the overall addition plans.

"Logistically, it's nice to open up the classrooms for the school to provide a warmer and more open environment by getting [students] out of the trailers," he said. The school currently uses seven temporary classrooms.

Staff Writer Jason Tomassini contributed to this report.

Planners approve apartments for Ripley District - Gazette

Designs for Midtown Silver Spring call for 314 units, retail space with two multi-level towers

by Jason Tomassini | Staff Writer | Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008

The Montgomery County Planning Board unanimously approved plans Thursday for a 314-unit mixed–use apartment complex in Silver Spring's Ripley District, furthering the neighborhood's revitalization around the nearby transit center.

Approval for Midtown Silver Spring, which will be located on 1.8 acres at the northwest corner of Ripley Street and Dixon Avenue, was the final step in the site review process. The developer, New York-based Home Properties, will now finalize engineering and construction plans before seeking building permits. Construction is expected to begin late next year.

Of the 314 units, 40 will be moderately-priced. Units will be divided between a 19-story tower and a 20-story tower. Of the moderately-priced units, plans call for two studio apartments, 16 one-bedroom apartments and 22 two-bedroom apartments.

"Your plan is a well thought out plan, it's well-designed, it looks like it's being well-executed," said board member Joe Alfandre of the project, which received little opposition or concerns from the board. "It's a type of standard for me to look at."

About 5,380 square feet of retail, located mostly on Ripley and spanning to Dixon, will be included on the site. According to the site plan, the project is "a five-minute walk" from the Silver Spring Metro station on Colesville Road.

On-site plans for Midtown also include bike paths, a swimming pool and indoor fitness facility. Currently, Dixon Avenue connects Wayne Avenue and Bonifant Street just north of the site, but the site plans calls for a one-block extension of Dixon to an intersection with Ripley.

The extension will go through the first floor of the county-owned, 1,776-space Bonifant-Dixon parking garage between Wayne and Bonifant, separating the residential towers and a proposed park on Dixon. An agreement with the county Department of Transportation will allow the public parking garage to extend beneath the Dixon Avenue extension.

An underground parking garage for the Midtown complex will include a maximum 389 parking spaces.

Given the high costs of underground parking facilities and the project's proximity to the Metro station, Home Properties will consider reducing the number of spaces at the site, which will delay an estimate on the cost of the project, said Donald Hague, vice president of development for Home Properties.

"We think there will be more people drawn to an urban life where they don't have a car," Hague said.

Board Chairman Royce Hanson said with projects near transit centers, selecting suitable parking options is important.

"From a marketing point of view, would fewer spaces be marketable and work?" he asked the applicant. "We are not trying to change the site plan but we are interested in this because we are looking at parking issues as a way of reducing building costs."

Midtown Silver Spring will be built across from another planned high-rise apartment complex at 1050 Ripley Street developed by Bethesda-based Washington Property Company. Plans for the project include 305 units, 46 moderately-priced dwelling units and 3,068 square feet of street-level retail.

Construction of Midtown should roughly coincide with construction of the $91 million Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center, construction on which will begin shortly (see related story) at the Metro site. The transit center, which should completed in about two years, is expected to significantly increase ridership of the Metro and other transit alternatives downtown.

As part of the site plan, Home Properties must achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification and conduct noise mitigation tests for units near WMATA and CSX train tracks as well as Georgia Avenue.

Golf course owners cool to advisory board suggestions - Gazette

by Amber Parcher | Staff Writer | Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008

A citizens advisory committee that met over the summer to study ways to keep Sligo Creek Golf Course financially viable against any drastic changes such as a driving range or miniature golf course and instead recommended promoting the golf course as is.

The committee was formed in April to help advise the Montgomery County Revenue Authority, the owner of the Sligo Creek facility and others in the county, about how to jumpstart the ailing golf course.

But the group's laissez-faire approach, presented to the revenue authority board members on Tuesday, did not impress some board members, who had suggested the driving range and miniature golf course in January as a way to help bring in money.

Board members said the report did not have any profitable solutions.

"I don't see anything in this report that would really enhance the revenue," board member Steve Edwards told Bruce Sidwell, the chairman of the advisory group.

The revenue authority has been leasing the Sligo Creek Golf Course from Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission since 2006. The course was — and still is — losing money, said revenue authority Director Keith Miller. It was projected to lose $170,000 in fiscal 2008.

"It's not performing well; it hasn't been performing well," Miller said.

But a driving range or miniature golf course would be harmful to the surrounding environment and disrupt residents in the neighborhoods around it, Sidwell said. The advisory group instead proposed marketing Sligo Creek as a small, nine-hole course that would be friendly for recreational use and learning.

Sidwell and other advisory group members said by scaling back on various small expenses, such as mowing and fertilizers, the course could save money while retaining its original character.

"There's no one magic plan," said Silver Spring resident and advisory group member Heather Phipps.

Another board member, Peter Gray, said putting in a driving range would increase the course's reputation as a learning facility.

"You learn on a driving range," Gray said. He said he thought the report was "unrealistic" in its approach to make the golf course profitable without any major changes.

Edwards reminded the advisory group and the board that the revenue authority could always return the course to M-NCPPC if they couldn't come to an agreement.

But Sidwell maintained the report gives the revenue authority some smaller, feasible options to think about.

"[The report] isn't tit for tat … but it certainly colors the way you look at the problem," Sidwell said.

There are no other meetings or public hearings planned in the near future to discuss the golf course.

Hospital unveils ‘Village' concept - Gazette

Washington Adventist's Takoma Park campus to have health, well-being facilities

by Jason Tomassini | Staff Writer | Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008

Washington Adventist Hospital plans to demolish some buildings on its Takoma Park campus and renovate others to construct a Village of Health and Well-being that will include a fitness center, emergency care unit and college-level health education facilities when the hospital moves to its new location in Calverton/White Oak.

Washington Adventist officials unveiled designs Monday for the 14-acre campus at 7600 Carroll Ave. that will provide complementary services for the planned 48-acre Calverton/White Oak campus Adventist HealthCare hopes to open in 2013.

"This may be a national model of how to create something the community benefits from using different resources," said William G. Robertson, president and CEO of Adventist HealthCare, which runs Washington Adventist.

Plans for the Takoma Park campus were formed after hospital officials conducted interviews with 200 Takoma Park residents over 18 months. Some of those residents were on hand during Monday's press conference and many praised the designs as reflective of community needs.

"The general person on the street will have a positive reaction," said Howard Kohn, a Takoma Park resident and community activist who was interviewed by hospital officials. "This is a good solution as opposed to selling off the buildings and putting up apartments."

Plans include a 24-hour emergency health care facility similar to the Shady Grove Adventist Emergency Center in Germantown, pending state regulatory approval. Existing rehabilitation services will remain and expand to include more outpatient services including sports medicine and physical therapy.

Part of the main hospital building will be demolished, as will a conference building and office space at the Lisner building, which was built in the 1940s.

The most imminent feature is a fitness and wellness center that would include a new gymnasium, a swimming pool, racquetball courts, cardiac and weight machines and offices. That facility is expected to open by the end of 2011, Robertson said.

The fitness center will be open to physical therapy needs as well as general use from the community and students of nearby Columbia Union College.

In addition to the use of the fitness center, Adventist will partner with CUC to provide new services and facilities for the college's School of Health Professions, Sciences and Wellness, which was initiated in March.

Health and wellness classes would be conducted in classrooms at the fitness center and clinical space for aspiring health care professionals will be included in the current main hospital building. Those plans cannot be finished until Adventist relocates to Calverton/White Oak in 2013 because it would affect the number of hospital beds available, Robertson said.

CUC President Weymouth Spence said the partnership will allow the college to become a leader in health care education in the region by offering services and access that other institutions cannot.

"Health care is a high-profile industry and there is a national shortage of nurses," Spence said. "This is also a marketing strategy for when students select colleges."

The education programs and facilities will be open to other institutions in the area as well, providing a regional destination for health care students, said Washington Adventist President Jere Stocks.

"We understand that working together, we can have an impact on training health care professionals," he said. "CUC is our neighbor but I would expect other education partnerships to emerge."

Other planned features presented Monday included a Lifestyle Center set to open after 2013 that will provide health services including weight loss programs, smoking cessation programs and exercise classes, Robertson said. A dialysis center is also planned to fill a "huge need" in the community, he said.

Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams said the vision for the new campus matches the city's vision but acknowledged the project plans were still in a broad stage.

"Vision is the place you have to start, and I think it's a great vision," he said Monday night at a City Council meeting. "It's a win-win as far as the community is concerned."

Robertson said Adventist has considered other features including a restaurant overlooking Sligo Creek, space for several clinical-trial beds used to test medication, office space for nonprofit organizations, senior health services and programs to match immigrants with health care jobs.

He said the campus has the capacity for those services but the hospital was still working out many of the details for the Takoma Park campus and would be enlisting input from the community.

Seth Grimes, a Takoma Park activist and former mayoral candidate, has long voiced concerns over Adventist's move. Due to traffic along the six-mile route between Takoma Park and the planned relocation site, Adventist "will no longer be the hospital of choice in Takoma Park," Grimes said.

Grimes said plans for the new campus "are good for what they are" because they drew from community ideas, but he was unsure what was presented Monday will be reality in 2013.

"We are in a situation where change is constant around the county and health care needs are evolving," said Grimes, who was not at Monday's presentation but has seen the plans. "I guarantee [the plans] will change from now and five years from now in ways the community likes and ways they don't like."

For two years Grimes was on Takoma Park's Health Services Impact Committee, formed to assess the general health care needs of the city shortly after Adventist announced its plans for a new campus in 2005. In November, the committee will complete a draft report of the community's health care needs, said Drew Sommers, co-chair of the committee. The report will be submitted to Takoma Park City Council, Adventist Hospital and the public.

"I think it's a very bold and creative proposal," said Trevor Delafield, a member of the committee who attend Monday's presentation. "… They are allowing themselves room as needs and developments unfold."

Takoma Park appointed a 14-member committee, including mostly citizens and an ex officio member from Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, to discuss the use of the current campus and meet with Adventist. The committee will hold its first meeting in the coming weeks.

Takoma Park City Councilman Councilman Reuben Snipper (Ward 5) said the community must remain involved with the plans, both to help Adventist gain state approval for the emergency care unit and to make sure traffic problems around the campus do not worsen.

"I'm encouraged," Snipper said of Adventist's relationship with the community. "They haven't worked as collegially with the community in the past and they have learned that lesson."

Staff Writer Jeremy Arias contributed to this report.

Planners push a greener Silver Spring - Gazette

Initiative envisions urban parks combined with intense mixed-use development
by Sonny Goldreich | Special to The Gazette |Friday, April 25, 2008

The Montgomery County Planning Department is floating a proposal that would combine creation of showplace green spaces in downtown Silver Spring with intense mixed-use development.

The concept, presented during Thursday’s Planning Board hearing, focuses on five highly visible land parcels, including the Blair Shops retail center and the adjoining parking lot on East West Highway. Planning officials hope to spur creation of a ‘‘green downtown,” linking a network of urban parks and tree-lined streets, a concept that so far exists only in theory under the Silver Spring Central Business District Sector Plan adopted in 2000.

‘‘For the first time, we identify specific sites for development of large green spaces,” senior planner Sandra Pereira, who co-wrote the Silver Spring Green Space Plan, said before presenting it to the Planning Board. ‘‘The next phase would involve site specific recommendations and a program of requirements that would identify what the spaces need. Then we would develop associated cost estimates.”

The report says that numerous small open spaces have developed since the sector plan was adopted but most are ‘‘hardscaped plazas” rather than green spaces. Many are not viewed as accessible because they are set back from sidewalks and have design elements that separate them from the public street, such as the formal garden next to the Discovery Communications headquarters.

The planning report recommends public-private projects that would merge green space with existing or planned mixed-use development, such as at the Blair Shops. The Tower Cos., the owner of the retail strip center and the neighboring Blairs apartment complex, plans to redevelop the site after dropping efforts to sell the retail, office and residential development last month.

Under the green space report, the property would resemble an urban street with large commercial and residential buildings surrounding a block of green space. The existing Giant grocery would occupy the ground floor of a mixed-use building.

The report said that ‘‘the potential exists to develop this land into a dense, transit-oriented, mixed-use development with pedestrian-oriented retail and green space on the ground level with office and residential units above.” The site has existing zoning potential for as much as 450,000 square feet of commercial development.

In addition to the Blair Shops site, the study recommends pursuing the following sites for priority green space development:

Parking Lot 3 between Thayer and Silver Spring avenues; land between Kennett Street and East West Highway across from the Silver Spring Gateway project under construction; land surrounding existing Progress Place in the Ripley District immediately south of Ripley Street, where 600 residential units already are approved;

Silver Place to replace Hanson Park at Georgia Avenue and Fenton Street, site of the new Park and Planning headquarters; and land at the intersection of Fenton Street and East West Highway, which could be used to expand the existing Fenton Urban Park and serve as a gateway to Fenton Village.

The goal of the green space plan is to meet the demand of growing residential areas, especially in South Silver Spring, Pereira said.

‘‘There are 800 new residential units already built or approved in South Silver Spring and they will need some open space amenities,” she said.

The concept is modeled in part on the ‘‘accidental green space” that residents have adopted on the temporary artificial turf field on Ellsworth Avenue, which will disappear with construction of the Silver Spring civic building.

‘‘At the hearing for the civic building at Veterans Plaza last summer, half the community was opposed to it because they would lose the open space,” Pereira said.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Community feedback collected for new library - SilverChips.Online

Adults and teens weigh in on proposed Downtown Silver Spring facility

By Deepa Chellappa, Online Staff Writer, 09/25/2008

A meeting was held last Sunday at the Coffield Community Center in Silver Spring from 2 – 4 p.m. to solicit the public's suggestions for the new Silver Spring Library that will be constructed in Downtown Silver Spring. The discussion, led by Rita Gale, Public Services Administrator for Montgomery County Public Libraries, was the third in a series of public design meetings intended to receive feedback from the community.

The proposed design, which will improve upon the second-oldest library in the county, would be at the corner of Wayne Avenue and Fenton and Bonifant streets. The 66,000-square-foot site will include the multi-story library, affordable housing units, retail and a station on the Purple Line, according to Gale.

The project, which is 10 years in the making, is still in its planning stages, as officials are uncertain about the site plan of the library or materials that will be included in it. No projected start or completion dates exist as of yet. "It's very difficult for us right now, here today, to say how long it will take to get through the various regulatory processes," Don Scheuerman, acting chief of the project management section in the county's division of building design and construction, said at the meeting. "It's a multiuse facility, so it's harder to tell," Gale added.

At the meeting, Silver Spring residents were quick to make their ideas heard. Proposals included separate areas for tutoring and a book drop at the Silver Spring Library Metro station to be included on the Purple Line. Becky Reeve, of the Silver Spring Friends of the Library asserted that spaciousness is essential in the design. "I think it's extremely important to have meeting room space for multiple purposes," she said. "We're really concerned that people have said that this land is too valuable for a library, but we need this. We want this library to be useable in the future."

Reeve mentioned that many residents are worried that the potential Purple Line station will overrun the library, using up much of the property available. "This is ridiculous, and it's a big concern," she said.

Residents also advocated for a separate teen area complete with a computer lab furnished with both PCs and Macs. "We want to make sure that when teens grow up, they will use the library as adults as well," Gale said. "We can't just go from children to adults."

Silver Spring Library Manager Daniel Beavin maintained that the need for a new library is obvious to the community. "We are convinced of the need for a much larger building and there are constraints to using the present site of the old library," he said. "This will be a truly urban library and needs to be located closer to the business district."

The amount of money available for the new library's construction is about $30 million, according to the Montgomery County budget for the 2009 fiscal year.

Earlier this month, representatives from the Silver Spring Library hosted a meeting in the Blair media center during both lunches to hear teen students' opinions about the library's new design. "One of the biggest complaints we have had was that we weren't listening to kids," Scheuerman said. "It's a mistake we made and we want to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Scheuerman and Beavin listened to ideas from a small group of Blazers about specific spaces, colors, book and music collections and technology needed in the new library. "We have an opportunity to do something great," Beavin said. "There will be limits to the budget eventually, but at this stage, it's really important that we think big."

Suggestions at the meeting included a music room, a flat-screen TV and a café. Junior Dorian Roberts asked that the library provide community service opportunities to Blair students. "Even though by the time the library's completed I'll be in college, it's still going to be an interesting outlet for me," Roberts said.

Another meeting was held Sept. 23 at Round House Education Center to discuss site analysis and constraints. During the discussion, the public was presented with the site plan for the new library. Many attendees advocated for the library being a separate facility instead of a part of the planned residential area, according to Beavin.

There will be two more public design meetings for the new Silver Spring Library throughout the fall:

Oct. 7: 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. at Long Branch Community Center, 8700 Piney Branch Road - initial design concepts and brainstorming

Oct. 21: 6:30 - 9 p.m. at Long Branch Community Center - review and critique of design

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Summary Notes - Neighborhoods and Transportation/Pedestrian Safety Committees - September 15, 2008

Summary Notes
Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board
Neighborhoods Committee and
Transportation and Pedestrian Safety Committee
September 15, 2008 7:00 pm
Silver Spring Regional Services Center

Visit the Neighborhoods Committee Blog at

Attending: Alan Bowser, Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board; Darian Unger; Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board; Megan Moriarty, Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board; Victor Weissberg, Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board; Barbara Ditzler, Woodside Park Civic Association; Benjamin Stutz, Office of Councilmember Valerie Ervin; Brett Rouillier, Sligo Branview; Charlotte Coffield, Lyttonsville Civic Association; Chris Richardson, Park Hills Civic Association; Cindy Rucker; Colleen Mitchell, Woodside; Dwayne Jenkins, Silver Spring Regional Services Center; Elmoria Stewart, Lyttonsville Civic Association; Lt. Eric Burnett, Montgomery County Police Department; George French, Silver Spring Historical Society; Harry Saunders, Woodside Park; Jeffrey Dunckel, Pedestrian Safety Coordinator, Montgomery County; Jennifer Chambers, President’s Council of Downtown Silver Spring Civic Associations; Jennifer Nettles, Downtown Silver Spring; Lisa Dubay, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health; Luther Hinsley, Avery Park Community Association; Lynn Hughes; Marilyn Piety, Sligo-Branview Civic Association; Martha Waddy, New Hampshire Estates Civic Association; Cpt. Nancy Demme, Montgomery County Police Department; Mel Tull, Silver Spring Regional Services Center; Michelle Desiderio, Woodside Park Civic Association; Reginald Jetter, Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services; Rose Crenca, Sligo-Branview Civic Association; Rukiyat Gilbert, Southern Management; Sgt. Tom Harmon, Montgomery County Police Department; Tom Street, Office of the Montgomery County Executive; and Willie Smith, Lyttonsville Civic Association

Report on September Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board Meeting and July Neighborhoods Committee Meeting. Alan Bowser reviewed the Neighborhoods Committee’s July meeting and the full Board’s September meeting.

September Public Safety Update. Lt. Eric Burnett, 3rd District, MCPD, briefed the Committees on recent public safety developments in Silver Spring. Sgt. Tom Harmon, MCPD, briefed the Committees on recent traffic and pedestrian safety developments. He described several recent incidents, including the details of two recent pedestrian fatalities. Investigations are still ongoing. He also shared provided updates on the locations of recent traffic citations and auto accidents, again noting their prevalence on major state roads in Silver Spring. Finally, he discussed the steps being taken to make the interim transit center safer for pedestrians and traffic, including the posting of crossing guards during rush hours.

The Committee asked questions about pubic safety issues in Downtown Silver Spring, East Silver Spring, South Silver Spring and in the Northwest Oakview Weed & Seed area.

Report on the Weed & Seed Program. Martha Waddy presented a report on recent developments related to the Northwest Park Oakview Weed & Seed program. Her summary of Weed & Seed area developments is attached to these minutes.

Report of the Code Enforcement Task Force. Tom Street, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Montgomery County, briefed the Committees on the Report of the Code Enforcement Task Force, recently presented to County Executive Isiah Leggett. In September 2007, the County Executive directed the formation of a Code Enforcement Work Group, a group comprised largely of Executive Branch staff whose responsibilities include enforcing various chapters of the County Code. The County Executive wanted a comprehensive review of enforcement activities because of concerns raised by a number of individuals and civic groups, and his belief in the importance that these issues dramatically impact on the quality of life in the County and the residential character of neighborhoods. The concerns raised include:

Portions of the Code were outdated;
Code enforcement is uneven;
Too much time passes between the issuance of a citation and correction of a Code violation; and
There is poor coordination among the various departments responsible for issuing citations.

The Work Group’s mission has been to study and make recommendations regarding a wide variety of County Code issues including:

Unkempt properties;
Residential code violations enforced by multiple County agencies;
Overcrowded homes;
Vehicles parked on front lawns;
Unsafe passage on residential streets resulting from large parked commercial and recreational vehicles;
Inoperable or unregistered vehicles;
Coordination of solid waste enforcement;
Definition and enforcement of Home Occupations;
Repeat violation offenders;
Houses occupied, or accessory structures used without an approved final inspection; and
Failure to complete construction of residential building projects subject to building permits.

Over the past year the Work Group, with the assistance of Council staff has reviewed a number of case studies, identified a number of general issues common to many of the case studies, and is in the process of developing a set of recommendations that will address many of the issues that concern communities throughout the county. Proposed solutions to some of the concerns raised fall into three broad categories:

Legislative changes to various chapters of the County Code;
Internal work process (sometimes referred to as business processes) changes and cross training for DPS, DHCA, MCFRS, MCPD and DEP staff; and
Education programs for residents and community associations that inform property owners of their rights and responsibilities.

Committee members asked questions about the draft report. A summary of the Task Force’s work is included as an appendix to these minutes.

Report on the County Executive’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative. Jeff Dunckel, Montgomery County Pedestrian Safety Coordinator, briefed the Committees on the County Executive’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative.

Highlights included:

* A review of the plan and the high-incident areas in Silver Spring
* After a half-year hiatus, the initiative will hopefully go forward with about $4.8 million in funding derived from speed cameras.
* Council must still approve the funding, which is earmarked for public safety in general.
* Discussion of the proposed rode code revisions
* Some pedestrian studies are being postponed due to transit center construction.

When Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett was elected in December 2006, he pledged to make improving pedestrian and traffic safety a priority of his administration. This County Executive Pedestrian Safety Initiative outlines a comprehensive approach to meet that pledge. This initiative is a cooperative effort between the County Executive, Councilmember Valerie Ervin as the County Council representative on the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, and the Montgomery County Planning Board. This plan provides Montgomery County, for the first time, with a blueprint for action based on measurable strategies.

In January 2002, a Blue Ribbon Panel for Pedestrian and Traffic Safety issued its report identifying 54 recommendations to reduce pedestrian collisions and fatalities. For the past six years, these recommendations have guided County efforts to improve safety for pedestrians and make Montgomery County a more walkable community. Progress has been made – regional surveys have shown that awareness of pedestrian safety issues has increased both among the driving and walking public. But, with an average of 14 pedestrian fatalities and 430 collisions involving pedestrians each year in Montgomery County between 2003 and 2006, it is clear that more needs to be done.

To fulfill Mr. Leggett’s vision for increased pedestrian mobility and safety, this plan establishes goals to:
-- Reduce pedestrian-related crashes, injuries, fatalities, and their associated social and economic costs; and
--Ensure that all areas of the County provide safe and convenient travel options for pedestrians.

By making pedestrian travel safer, easier and more convenient, other important objectives are also achieved, including improving health and fitness, decreasing local vehicular congestion and pollution and making the community more appealing to businesses, residents and tourists. The initiative sets out timeframes and budgets for new and enhanced efforts to achieve each strategy, starting with fiscal year 2009. The strategic approach to achieve the goals and objectives of this initiative are as follows:

Strategy 1: Target pedestrian safety improvements in High Incidence Areas
Strategy 2: Assess and improve pedestrian network and connectivity needs
Strategy 3: Increase emphasis on pedestrians and bicyclists in the planning process
Strategy 4: Identify and implement corridor and intersection modifications and traffic calming treatments
Strategy 5: Upgrade pedestrian signals
Strategy 6: Assess and enhance street lighting
Strategy 7: Modify pedestrian and driver behavior through enhanced enforcement and educational efforts

This initiative significantly enhances the County’s investment in educating motorists and pedestrians, keeping enforcement efforts visible and intensive, and aggressively applying the most innovative and pedestrian-friendly road engineering design to prevent pedestrian injury and make Montgomery County a safe, livable, and accessible community. This initiative proposes new spending of about $4.8 million per year and $32.4 million over six years on pedestrian safety activities. The County currently spends approximately $30 million annually in programs related to pedestrians.

Historic Preservation Update. Alan Bowser reported that the Montgomery County Planning Board voted to recommend that the County Council designate two-thirds of the Falkland-Chase Apartment complex in downtown Silver Spring as protected historic structures, while the remaining third be made eligible for redevelopment. The entire complex is currently listed on the Locational Atlas and Index of Historic Sites, which lists all of the county's structures that are up for protection under the Master Plan for Historic Designation. If the council follows the board’s recommendation, then only the southern two parcels of the complex will receive protection, and the north parcel will likely be redeveloped, according to planning spokeswoman Valerie Berton. The Silver Spring Historical Society website is located at

Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 pm.

Next Meeting. Monday, October 20, 2008.

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The Northwest Park Oakview Weed and Seed (NPOWS)
Program Update to the
Silver Spring Citizen’s Advisory Board
Neighborhood Committee
September 15, 2007

Summary provided by:
Ms. Martha Waddy
Member, Weed & Seed Steering Committee

Program Highlights:

Valerie Ervin, Councilmember, Montgomery County Council provided introductory and welcoming comments and presided over a Neighborhood Watch Graduation Ceremony.

Over 25 members of the community participated in Neighborhood Watch training over a three week period in July.

Staff members from Councilmembers Valerie Ervin, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich attended a community association meeting in July.

Celebrated “National Night Out” at Avery Park Apartments (See attached Letters and Photos).

On July 23rd and August 29th Weed & Seed Police Details made arrests related to Drugs, Weapons, and Robberies (See Attached Press Releases).

Neighborworks America, a national provider of training programs to Asset Managers and Community Workers, selected Northwest Park Apartments as a location to hold a panel discussion on what works in revitalizing a community. Members of the Weed & Seed Weed Committee, apartment managers and members of the community participated in the 4 hour discussion.

The Department of Justice conducted a program site-visit and determined our implementation of the Weed & Seed Strategy met Department of Justice program requirements. Additionally, the NPOWS is qualified for an additional year of federal funding to 2010.

Weed & Seed partners developed an Outreach Strategy for Broad Acres Elementary School Administrators (See Attached Gazette Article).

For additional information about the contents above contact:
Victor Salazar, Site Coordinator, Weed & Seed, (301) 565-5847

The Northwest Park Oakview Weed and Seed (NPOWS)
Activities Update to the Silver Spring Citizen’s Advisory Board
Neighborhood Committee
September 15, 2008
Covers the Period July 1, 2008 through August 31, 2008
Submitted by: Martha Waddy, Steering Committee Member


Law Enforcement

Montgomery County Police: There have been a total of 348 incidents of crime reported on the Montgomery County side of the Weed & Seed Area from January 5, 2008 through August 31, 2008 Summarized by as follows:

8 Theft 30 Vehicle Thefts 50 Assaults (3 w/deadly weapons)
6 Quality of Life/Liquor 24 Burglaries 43 Vehicle Burglaries
70 Quality of Life/Disorderly 79 Traffic 12 Robberies 2 Sex Offense – Rape 10 Quality of Life/Narcotics 9 Other – Alarm 1 Arson
3 Deaths 1 Weapon

Assault, Disorderly Conduct and Vehicle Burglaries continue to top the three most reported crimes in this area of Montgomery County.

The communities on the Western Side of New Hampshire Avenue; Northwest Park Apartments, Hampshire West and Oakview have been the hardest hit with crime during the months of July and August.

Though crime has spiked in the Oakview Community, overall, the incidents of crime in the Weed & Seed area has dropped by about a 3rd during the months of July and August, as compared with the previous two months, May and June.

During the months of July and August a large portion of Weed & Seed funding has been used to support Police Overtime Details in Weed & Seed Communities.

Community Policing

Three Weed & Seed Communities celebrated the 25th Anniversary of National Night Out. Specifically, Northwest Park Apartments, Avery Park Apartments, and the Hamptons Homeowners Association.
SAO, MCPD and Weed & Seed have fulfilled community requests to attend meetings at Avery Park.
Resident Tips have reported drugs, prostitution and unsupervised youth that could be gang related in the area.



CSAFE will continue to lead the Truancy Prevention Program until October 2008.
Luis Martinez of HHS has agreed to support Weed & Seed in holding a workshop with residents on how to access HHS services during the month of October or November.
The YMCA held a celebration for Program Participants on Saturday, September 13. Weed & Seed was thanked for providing funding for programming.
The Long Branch Athletic Association has signed an MOU to provide youth in W&S opportunities to play soccer.
The Seed Committee has spent the last two meetings identifying resource gaps in preparation of submitting testimony to County Council and County Executive in support of funding requests in Weed & Seed Communities.

Neighborhood Restoration

The Nuisance Abatement Task Force continues to receive complaints from Oakview Residents. The Task Force will complete its first year of operations in November.
The Broad Acres Park Renovation has finally broken ground with an expected completion date of Spring.
Weed & Seed met today with DHCA to assist the Dept. of Community Revitalization with its Neighborhood Revitalization Indicator Project.
The Weed & Seed Program along with its Program Partners supported the St. Camillus Community Carnival on September 5th and 7th (Press release attached).
The Weed & Seed Program along with its Program Partners supported Broad Acres Elementary School’s celebration of the new school year (Press release attached).


Funding – The Weed & Seed Program received notice from the Department of Justice that it was approved for another year of funding. The total amount granted is $150,000. This is an amount $50,000 less than last year’s budget and $25,000 less than the previous year.

Steering Committee Appointments:

Officer Kirk Considine has been approved by the Weed Committee to replace Sgt. Michael Ruane as Weed Committee Chair.
Michael Avant, YMCA, and Maura Lynch, SAO, have been approved by the Seed Committee to replace Hanna Davis and Jeanna Cullinan of the Girl Scouts to Co-Chair the Seed Committee.

Code Enforcement Work Group Presentation
Silver Spring Neighborhood Advisory Board
September 15, 2008

In September 2007, the County Executive directed the formation of a Code Enforcement Work Group, a group comprised largely of Executive Branch staff whose responsibilities include enforcing various chapters of the County Code. The County Executive wanted a comprehensive review of enforcement activities because of concerns raised by a number of individuals and civic groups, and his belief in the importance that these issues dramatically impact on the quality of life in the County and the residential character of neighborhoods. The concerns raised include:
Portions of the Code were outdated;
Code enforcement is uneven;
Too much time passes between the issuance of a citation and correction of a Code violation; and
There is poor coordination among the various departments responsible for issuing citations.

The Work Group’s mission has been to study and make recommendations regarding a wide variety of County Code issues including:
Unkempt properties;
Residential code violations enforced by multiple County agencies;
Overcrowded homes;
Vehicles parked on front lawns;
Unsafe passage on residential streets resulting from large parked commercial and recreational vehicles;
Inoperable or unregistered vehicles;
Coordination of solid waste enforcement;
Definition and enforcement of Home Occupations;
Repeat violation offenders;
Houses occupied, or accessory structures used without an approved final inspection; and
Failure to complete construction of residential building projects subject to building permits.

Over the past year the Work Group, with the assistance of Council staff has reviewed a number of case studies, identified a number of general issues common to many of the case studies, and is in the process of developing a set of recommendations that will address many of the issues that concern communities throughout the county. Proposed solutions to some of the concerns raised fall into three broad categories:

Legislative changes to various chapters of the County Code;
Internal work process (sometimes referred to as business processes) changes and cross training for DPS, DHCA, MCFRS, MCPD and DEP staff; and
Education programs for residents and community associations that inform property owners of their rights and responsibilities.

The Work Group has made the following recommendations to the County Executive and he has approved the following proposals:
Parking limits on oversize, commercial, and recreational vehicles (off-property);
Parking limits-on-property: Limit the amount of impervious surface on residential lots and number of commercial and recreational vehicles in certain zones;
Make definition for “heavy-commercial, light-commercial, and recreational vehicle” the same in all sections of the Code (specifically in sections 31 and 59);
Make Code chapters 48 and 26 consistent by requiring untagged vehicles to be removed within the same number of days of being cited. Currently, one Chapter specifies 90 days and the other one 30 days. Consideration is also being given to reducing the number of days to less than 30 days;
Clarifications and limits for Home Occupations;
Require final inspections for building permits;
Require approved occupancy and use permits prior to occupation of residential properties or change in use of residential properties;
Require permit expiration dates and require more than one inspection in a 18 month period; and
Increased fines for various violations.

Business Process Changes and Training:
Expanded use of the eReferral system. Over the last 8 months DPS, DHCA, DEP and MCP have worked cooperatively to develop an internal, online “eReferral” system which is used by code enforcement workers and police officers to refer potential violations that are reported to them, or that are observed when they visit a property, to the agency that is responsible for enforcement of the suspected code violation. This enables efficient and timely reporting by the first responding agency to other agencies that need to respond and eliminates the need for residents to report violations to multiple agencies. All referrals are recorded in the County’s eProperty Data Mining application and can be viewed by residents when searching an address using eProperty. Also using eProperty, residents can see agency-by-agency cases opened in response to the referral. Currently, eProperty displays and links to case data from Housing Code Enforcement, Permitting, Zoning. Police information is being developed and will be added in the near future. Additional data sources that are planned to be added are Solid Waste, DEP, and FRS. This is a work in progress and will be improved over the next few months by expanding County employee awareness of and training for the eReferral system, adding data sources to the eProperty system, and perhaps integrating these systems with the planned “311” system.

Implementing a revised abatement program that impacts repeat Code offenders and others. Under the approach, if a property owner fails to make required corrections within the time specified in a Court-issued abatement order, the County would utilize its contractors to correct a violation and the expenses would be charged to the property owner. Should the property owner fail to compensate the county for incurred expenses, a lien would be put on the property and collected through the property tax bill or tax sales. Once funded these activities could be further directly supported by revenue from fines imposed by the Court.

Overcrowded residences:
Cross train MCP, DPS, DEP, and MCFRS inspectors to observe and report situations of overcrowding to DHCA
DHCA to ask for number of bedrooms and number of renters when property owner applies for license.

QA process for all departments;

Licensing of providers of fire safety systems and equipment – MCFRS;

Narrow period completing residential permits and set final inspection dates for residential building permits:
Use the Hansen permitting information system to monitor expiration dates and to trigger more frequent inspections.
DPS needs to proactively inspect residential building projects and not have all inspections be driven by requests.

Solid Waste – revised jurisdiction for solid waste violations between DEP and DHCA.

Non-English speaking inspection procedures (all departments); and

Proposal to change DPS permit review process to require that permit requests that are accompanied by drawings that indicate that materials for the addition for which the permit is being applied will match the existing structure do, in fact, match the existing materials (DPS).

Community Outreach
Develop an outreach program to share information on DPS and DHCA code requirements – what is and isn’t covered, how the requirements are enforced, when permits are required, and how and to whom complaints can be made.
Work with realtors to encourage them to monitor, and correct as appropriate, the number of bedrooms advertised in listed single-family properties.
Provide information to new renters so that they better understand the landlord’s responsibilities for property maintenance and know how to file a complaint.

In addition to the recommendations mentioned above:
There has been increased inspection activity in the Aspen Hill community resulting in increased numbers of owners taking corrective action to eliminate overcrowding, and Realtors have been engaged in monitoring more closely and correcting, as appropriate, the number of bedrooms advertised in listed properties.

Wellness Center, Emergency Care Planned for Takoma Park - Washington Post

By Lori Aratani | Washington Post Staff Writer |Tuesday, September 23, 2008; B05

Officials at Adventist HealthCare announced plans yesterday to turn the hospital's Takoma Park campus into a health center with emergency and primary care and community amenities such as a gymnasium and pool once the current hospital moves north to the Calverton-White Oak area of Montgomery County.

The 13-acre site would become a "village of health and well being," Adventist President William G. Robertson said, combining traditional medical services with a wellness center that in addition to the pool and gym would include a rock-climbing wall.

In addition, the campus could offer assisted living facilities for senior citizens and expanded outpatient rehabilitation services, he said. Officials also want to take advantage of the hospital's current proximity to Columbia Union College to create classroom space and find other ways the hospital can more closely partner with its counterparts in higher education, they said.

The announcement came in response to residents' concerns that the hospital's move would leave the area without access to health care. Many walk or depend on public transportation to get to the current location. Robertson, who runs the hospital's parent company, said the proposal for the site came after an extensive study that included interviews with more than 200 members of the Takoma Park community.

"We've targeted what the community has told us it needs," Robertson told the more than 50 community members and elected officials who gathered at the hospital's conference center for yesterday's announcement.

Robertson did not have a cost estimate for the proposal, which could require public and private dollars to build. Various elements also would require approval from state and county officials before the plan could move forward. Robertson said elements of the wellness center could open as early as 2011.

Jere D. Stocks, president of Washington Adventist Hospital, said plans for the current site combined with the hospital's anticipated move in 2013, "will strengthen the health-care safety net for everyone."

Robertson said the reinvention of the Takoma Park site could serve as a model for other hospitals undergoing similar changes. After several years of study, Adventist officials announced in 2005 that it would relocate the 294-bed hospital's operations rather than expand its campus in Takoma Park. In 2007, it announced it had acquired a 48-acre parcel at Plum Orchard Drive and Cherry Hill Road.

Construction on the new hospital campus is scheduled to begin in 2010 with an anticipated opening of 2013. A few weeks ago, Adventist officials received another in a series of approvals for the move. In November, the plan for the new hospital campus, which is about six miles north of the current site, will go before the county Planning Board.

Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams said that when Adventist first announced its intention to move, community members' main concern was that they would lose access to health-care services such as emergency room care and dialysis. But after listening to Adventist officials outline their vision during yesterday's lunchtime gathering, he said he felt confident the community's needs would be served.

"What they are keeping here are the pieces that the community thinks are important," he said. "I like the vision. Now we have to work out the particulars and the funding."

Those seeking more information about Adventist's plans can visit

Monday, September 22, 2008

Raw Fisher The Cold Splash of Reality, With A Side of Sizzle - Washington Post

By Marc Fisher | November 16, 2007; 6:20 AM

Blogger of the Month: Silver Spring, Singular

For some reason I've never been able to fathom, hardly anyone from beyond the Beltway can process the idea that there is only one spring that gave Silver Spring its name--that, as Karl Ericson says, it's Silver Spring, Singular.

For those who have resigned ourselves to a lifetime of correcting folks about the number of springs, Silver Spring, Singular-- November's winner of our Blogger of the Month award--provides an entertaining and informative look into life in a bustling chunk of Montgomery County that has beeen transformed in recent years.

Silver Spring is one of the most blogolific locales in the Washington area. The new downtown has spawned a slew of quality bloggers, such as Silver Spring Penguin, which focuses on local businesses, eateries and development issues; and Silver Spring Scene, which has more of a real estate and business focus.

If you're photographically inclined, check out the self-explanatory and perceptive Silver Spring Daily Photo. There's some original reporting on the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association's blog.

But the trips to Silver Spring that I find most satisfying are the ones you can take via Just Up the Pike, Dan Reed's blog, which was profiled in Sunday Source's roundup of some very good local bloggers a few months back; and Silver Spring, Singular, which has a similar mission to Reed's venture.

Ericson, 32, who recently bought his mother's house in Silver Spring, allowing him to live once again in the spot where he grew up, is a marketing man who launched his blog in early 2006 mainly because he was jealous that "every neighborhood in D.C. seemed to have half a dozen blogs and we didn't have any in Silver Spring."

But as we know, blogs beget blogs, and now, with about 400 steady readers on his own blog and a slew of other Silver Sprung blogs getting into some of the same issues of growth, development, and what's new to eat downtown, Ericson finds himself devoting an hour or so a day to the pressing issues of his hometown.

"Most of my ideas I get from walking around or things I pick up in the newspaper," he says, and a typical week on Silver Spring, Singular might include updates on the continuing discussion over putting a county-subsidized music venue in the new downtown, the crying need for a good gelateria in Silver Spring, and the annoyingly loud customers who are permitted to disturb moviegoers at the Majestic theaters.

That last topic caused a bit of a ruckus, especially on his comment boards, which is where things tend to get a bit out of hand on these here blogs. But Ericson is committed to taking on issues that he and his readers care about; the only topic he tends to shy away from is the eternal debate in Silver Spring over the route of the proposed Purple Line mass transit extension--"because if I started, I'd be writing about it for the rest of my life," he says.

Silver Spring, Singular is a friendly, chatty and attractively eclectic blog, one that feels like the place it serves. It has just the right amount of passion to make you care, but not so much as to send you running for cover. Ericson is proud to call himself a Silver Spring booster--"The downtown is no longer up and coming," he says, "it's really arrived"--but dedicated enough to criticize the county and developers when they deserve a shot. More than anything else, he views himself as a bit of community memory, a service best provided by a guy who grew up in the house he still lives in, who found himself over the years "always defending Silver Spring against people from Bethesda or D.C." and who now has a platform from which to carry on that defense for all to read.

Design Charrettes for Design Charrettes for Silver Spring Library Site Project

Design Charrettes for Design Charrettes for Silver Spring Library Site Project

First Design Meeting
Site analysis and constraints; community concerns and ideas
September 23, 7-9 p.m.
Round House Education Center
925 Wayne Avenue

Second Design Meeting
Initial design concepts and brainstorming
October 7, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Long Branch Community Center
8700 Piney Branch Road

Third Design Meeting
Review and critique of conceptual designs
October 21,6:30 - 9:00p.m.
Long Branch Community Center
8700 Piney Branch Road

All of the Design Charrettes are opened to the public.

Sponsored by Silver Spring Regional Center
Montgomery County Department of General Services- Building,
Design and Construction Section
Montgomery County Department Housing and Community Affairs
Montgomery County Public Libraries

Friday, September 19, 2008

Construction underway for new Civic Center in Downtown Silver Spring - SilverChips.Online

Additions and public plaza to replace the site of the artificial turf

By Fran Djoukeng, Online Staff Writer

A new civic center is underway for the Silver Spring area, taking over the site of the artificial turf permanently. Dubbed the "Silver Spring Redevelopment Project," the civic center is expected to be open to the public in late 2009 or early 2010 and will cover 42,000 square feet, spreading from the corner of Fenton Street to the end of Ellsworth Drive.

The site will feature a civic building and a hard-scaped plaza - "a plaza that's mostly likely to be finished in stone or concrete, as opposed to grass," according to Bill Barron, a Silver Spring-Takoma Park Community Planning Team leader. The plaza will also feature a memorial honoring veterans, an ice rink that can be converted to a stage and a pavilion providing shade and seating. Approved in June 2007 by the Montgomery County Planning Board, the civic center is estimated to cost $19.7 million, according to The Silver Spring Gazette.

The civic building will include a large foyer, a Great Hall, office space for staff members of the Silver Spring Regional Services and a lower level that will hold the Roundhouse Theater School. "The Civic Building, pavilion and plaza area [are] for the community. There will be space inside the building for events, meetings, etc.," said Robert Kronenberg, member of Maryland-National Capitol Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).

Roundhouse will move from its current space, located on Wayne Avenue, to the civic building upon its completion, according to Jeff King, a Roundhouse official.

The plaza, with movable tables and chairs, will be surrounded by trees and have an adjacent walkway on the corner of Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive. The open space is intended for non-programmed activities such as Frisbee and catch, Kronenberg said.

The Veterans Memorial will honor veterans from Montgomery County, with youth-themed artwork provided by Maryland artist Toby Mendez, Kronenberg said. The Veterans Memorial was part of the winning design in a competition held to determine the design layout for the entire civic area. The design competition had "three teams compete and the firm with the best design was picked," Marcolin said.

The ice rink, covered by a large canopy, will be available during the winter season for public skating and celebrations of winter holidays. During the remainder of the year, the ice rink will be unearthed to reveal the Pavilion, to be used for community activities and concerts. When planning for the space began, an ice rink was one of the original community requests, Barron said.

In 1998, plans for the Civic Center began when the Silver Spring Armory was torn down to make way for redevelopment projects in the downtown area. The artificial turf was then installed temporarily to stabilize the county-owned property until further development plans. In the years since its installation, the artificial turf served as a popular space among teenagers and families to eat and socialize. The change has been long in the works, and "a dialogue to promote more green in the downtown area," was the only dispute caused by the replacement, Kronenberg said.

Barron hopes the Civic Center will serves many purposes, for people of all ages. The planning board is promoting the new center as a popular community-gathering place and an attractive area for visitors and residents.

The Civic Center will have the "feel of the Rockefeller Center in New York," according to the project's urban designer, John Marcolin. "The arrangement of a hard-scaped plaza and surrounding landscape of trees will give that sense," he added.

With all the features under construction, county officials hope there is something to appease young adults. "Hopefully, teenagers will be able to engage with the skating rink and programmed and non-programmed activities," Kronenberg said.

Revitalization Project Kicks Off - Washington Post

Thursday, September 18, 2008; GZ03

Officials, veterans and community leaders gathered last Thursday to break ground for the Veterans Plaza/Civic Building project at Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive in downtown Silver Spring.

The project, part of the final stage of the Silver Spring business district revitalization, is on the site that has been occupied the past few years by an open green covered in artificial turf that became a popular gathering place.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and County Council member Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) participated in the ceremony. Also taking part were Jon Lourie, chairman of the Urban District Advisory Committee; Darian Unger, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Board; and Jerry Miller, board chairman of the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce.

The Civic Building is being constructed on a 1.5-acre site. In front of it will be the Veterans Plaza on about three-quarters of an acre.

The plaza will become the site of such events as the Silver Spring Swings Summer Concert Series, the Silver Spring Jazz Festival and the Magical Montgomery Cultural Fair. In winter, there will be an ice skating rink on the plaza.

The 42,000-square-foot Civic Building will host community events and house a gallery directed by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. The building also will be the home of the Silver Spring Regional Services Center and the Round House Theatre School.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Plans advance for new hospital - Gazette

Washington Adventist receives land-use approval for Calverton/White Oak site

by Jason Tomassini | Staff Writer |Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008

After receiving a crucial land-use approval last week, Washington Adventist Hospital's plans for relocation in the Calverton/White Oak area of Silver Spring have moved one step closer, with post-expansion plans for the current campus in Takoma Park to be announced soon.

On Sept. 10, the Montgomery County Board of Appeals unanimously approved a special exception filed by the hospital that changed the zoning of 48.8 acres of hospital-owned land near Cherry Hill Road and Route 29, just off Plum Orchard Drive, to allow for a new modern facility.

Hospital officials now await a review of a site plan from the Montgomery County Planning Board expected this November, which would be the final land-use approval needed on a local level. The hospital would then seek state regulatory approval next year by filing a Certificate of Need with the Maryland Health Care Commission.

In August, the county hearing examiner recommended approval for the special exception; the Planning Board recommended approval earlier this year.

Washington Adventist President Jere Stocks said he has been encouraged by the planning process and discussion with the Planning Board.

"I would characterize it as a very open dialogue from how the building sits on the site to forest conservation to traffic planning and mitigation and many more," Stocks said.

The new campus is expected to provide an upgrade over Washington Adventist Hospital's 14-acre Takoma Park campus on Carroll Avenue by offering a wider range of health care services and using the latest in medical technology.

The new hospital will include a main building, an ambulatory care building and two parking structures. At least an equal number of hospital beds as the old campus – currently 294 – will be included in the new campus. All beds will be in private rooms.

Plans also include a faith center for worship, counseling and education activities, as well as 260,000 square feet of office space for health care providers and out-patient services.

Adventist will seek at least the minimum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, Stocks said. Green features include a layout of the buildings that will maximize the potential for natural light and plans to incorporate a 4-acre lake on the site with healing programs.

Coupled with the expansion at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration campus in White Oak, the new campus will increase high-paying jobs in the area, jumpstarting revitalization along Route 29 and improving property values, said Stuart Rochester, chairman of the Fairland Master Plan Committee.

"The history of east county has been a lot of housing but no high paying jobs," said Rochester, adding that besides potential traffic issues, residents of Calverton/White Oak are in full support of the new campus. "Now there is possibility, in terms of smart growth, that people will be living closer to where they work and well-paying jobs will be closer."

Rochester said the White Oak area isn't lacking in health care services but the new campus will provide a more centralized facility than Adventist's Takoma Park site.

The Takoma Park campus will still be used as a complementary facility to the new campus. After conducting 18 months of interviews with more than 200 people in the community, Adventist will reveal preliminary plans for the continued use of the Takoma Park campus Monday at a press conference.

While Stocks reserved details for the plans for the press conference, he said common themes did arise during the interview process.

"Primary care access and specialty care services is very important," he said. "That is crux of what most people want."

Takoma Park formed a Health Services Impact Committee to assess the general health care needs of the city shortly after Adventist announced its plans for a new campus in 2005. In November, the committee will complete a draft report of results from focus groups and online surveys conducted in the community, said Drew Sommers, co-chair of the committee. The report will be submitted to Takoma Park City Council, Adventist Hospital and the public.

Sommers said the committee has had a strong relationship with Adventist Hospital, but the committee is focused on health care issues beyond just the hospital's relocation.

"Many issues are tangentially related to Adventist, but they are also related to many needs that already existed before Adventist," Sommers said.

Takoma Park has also appointed a committee of 14 members, including mostly citizens and an ex officio member from Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, to discuss the use of the current campus and meet with Adventist. The committee will hold its first meeting in the coming weeks.

Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams said he hopes increased out-patient services such as wellness clinics and health clubs will be in the plans for the current campus. He said the current campus could also provide extended services for those without health insurance, lessening the burden on existing health care facilities in the area.

"I think it's an opportunity to make an expanded set of services available, rather than feeling like what we had previously went away," Williams said.

Silver Spring Library Update

You can get information about the new Silver Spring Library Project and view the community comments about the "Program of Requirements by visiting the Department of Library's Silver Spring Library website.

Click here to go there.

Public Meetings

Montgomery County Public Libraries
Silver Spring Regional Services Center and
Montgomery County Department
of General Services - Design Section

Invite you to attend one of four meetings
about the New Silver Spring Library

Come and learn about the plans for the new library
and provide comments on the services and programs
you are interested in having in that new library

Attend one of four meetings:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 7-9 p.m. at Silver Spring Library (8901 Colesville Road)

Saturday, August 23, 2008 10 a.m.-noon at Round House Black Box Theater (8641 Colesville Road)

Special meeting for teens: Saturday, August 23, 2008 12:30*-2:30 p.m. at Silver Spring Library (8901 Colesville Road) *Pizza served at 12:30 p.m.; discussion 1-2:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 21, 2008 2-4 p.m. at Coffield Center (2450 Lyttonsville Road)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Silver Spring Jazz Festival

See a Jazz Festival Slideshow here

For families, jazz fest gets them into the swing of things - Gazette

Fifth annual event draws more than 25,000 to downtown Silver Spring for a day of music

by Jeremy Arias | Staff Writer

Yaniv Yassour stared intently at the stage Saturday afternoon as the announcer prepared to unveil the winners of the 2008 Silver Spring Jazz Festival's High School Youth Cutting Contest.

Young musicians from James Hubert Blake, Albert Einstein high schools and the independent Jazz Academy of Silver Spring all waited expectantly in downtown Silver Spring as their band leaders fidgeted behind the announcer onstage.

"And the winner is … the Jazz Academy!"

Yassour, a Silver Spring resident for the last seven years, broke into a delighted smile and joined the spectators in applauding the victors, among them his 14-year-old son, Itai, a trumpet player who performed a solo earlier in the competition.

Yassour, an Israeli by birth, said jazz has played an important role in his family: he is a saxophonist and his daughter plays the piano. His wife, a former flautist, makes sure they all practice.

"It's a good way to get the family together and spend some quality time going to other venues and seeing other performers," he said. While Yassour said he is no professional, music still has a unifying impact on the family. "It's just a hobby; it's fun to play with the kids."

Families, musical or not, were not hard to find. Whether it was the joy of watching a loved one perform, the music, or the opportunity to get out for one of the area's biggest outdoor events, the fifth-annual Silver Spring Jazz Festival drew more than the usual 25,000 according to spokeswoman Susan Hoffmann.

Families danced and played, stretched out on blankets and lawn chairs and met up with friends to browse the food vendors near the front of the venue, all to the smooth, rhythmic backdrop of one of America's most treasured musical styles.

"It went all the way back to the tents," Hoffmann said of the crowd. At first she was afraid that the event's new location would hamper attendance. "There was a significant increase right before Marcus Johnson went on; people tend to come for the last few acts."

Marcy and Dexter Gaines of College Park brought their children, 7-year-old Maya and 2-year-old Devin, to the event. It is the family's first time at the daylong concert that featured headliner The Mingus Big Band of New York.

"We thought it seemed like a fun event to bring the family to," Dexter said as Devin bounced up and down to the music of Washington, D.C., resident Gail Shipp onstage.

"It's just beautiful weather," Marcy added. "We'll probably come back if we see it again."

Hoffmann mentioned the major draws for families included the typically child-friendly atmosphere along with the big headline events for parents and adults.

"People know that their kids will be safe; it'll be a non-alcohol, non-smoking environment, the lyrics won't be offense and it'll just be a good performance of very talented performers," she said. "It's hard to describe the sound of a 14-piece jazz orchestra playing the work of Charley Mingus … it was just sensational, the crowd went wild, and Marcus Johnson was also probably the best I've ever heard him."

David Schneider and Rhona Campbell of Silver Spring have attended the festival for the last three years, this time with daughters Anastasia and 7-month-old Nora. The jazz tunes were a welcome change to the kid's music they've been listening to for so long, Schneider said.

"Both our kids like music so this is a good opportunity to get out of the house, and we're also trying to teach them what some of the instruments sound like," he said, adding that a future in music was not out of the question for the girls. "Maybe they'll advance to banging pots and pans together soon!"

"We go to almost everything that's available for outdoor entertainment in the area," Campbell added, emphasizing the value of getting out and about with the family.