Minutes of

Sligo Headwaters Civic Association Meeting

December 10, 2008

 

7:05 pm
Kathy Michels introduced the format for the meeting.

Ed Murtagh conducted the Business Meeting. 

The governance committee put forth Bylaws for the Sligo Headwaters Civic Association, the name chosen for the combined civic association.  The bylaws were briefly reviewed and discussed.  The Bylaws were approved by majority vote of those present.  Leah Haygood will head up the Nomination Committee.  The Nominating Committee will come up with a list of candidates for the 4 elected positions (President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary.)  We are looking for volunteers to be on this committee.  Kathy Michels volunteered . Others are sought. We are hoping to have elections this spring. 

Donna Calcone has begun the process for 501c3 nonprofit status. Ellen Griffiths, and Carol Lee Hilewick will work completing the process. 

Social Action: Kathy asked for any volunteers to head up or help with a ┐social action└ subcommittee for local charity and volunteer functions such as the Wheaton /Kensington Food Bank.  No volunteers  at the meeting  but she would be happy to work with anyone from the community who is  interested in taking charge.

Civic association website is www.sligoheadwaters.org .  It is kept up to date regularly.   

***********************************************************
7:25p Began the Community Meeting

introduction of the guest speakers by Leah Haygood.   Speakers and guests present were:

˙         Valerie Ervin,( councilmember.Ervin@montgomerycountymd.gov )

˙         Ben Stutz-her aide (ben.stutz@montgomerycountymd.gov)

˙         Dr. Heath Morrison, Community Superintendent  of the Blair, Einstein, Kennedy and Northwood Clusters, Montgomery County Public Schools

˙         Eric Wilson, Principal of Arcola Elementary, MCPS

˙         Sandra Tallant, Senior Planner for the Wheaton CBD Sector Plan, Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission - Montgomery County Planning Division

˙         Rob Klein, Director of Re-development, Mid-County Regional Service Center

˙         Officer Hidayat and Lt. Harhai, Montgomery County Police Department - 4th District

 

Officer Hidayat commended the neighborhood for following through on his recommendation and making phone calls, sending emails, calling with tips including tag numbers.  This led to an arrest for thefts in our neighborhood. 

He informed us there is still grant money available for community groups from the state of Maryland for initiatives such as efforts to reduce crime.  He is interested in working with our community in implementing a crime reduction initiative. His phone number is 240-773-5524; main phone number is 240-773-5500. 

In response to a question about recent gang ┐tagging└ of property in our community, he said Officers Troy Tippett and Bruce Beardsley are the best contacts for gang-related incidents. 

With regard to car thefts, Officer Hidayat advised to always lock your car, keep the windows up, don┌t leave anything inside the car unless it┌s in the trunk. 

Use www.crimereports.com to get an idea of crimes people are calling in.

7:45pm  Valerie Ervin was introduced (accompanied by aide Ben Stutz)

 Leah Haygood opened with questions from the community and opened the floor to residents for follow up questions.  Several topics were addressed.

Valerie just began her 4th year on the County Council.  She chairs the Education committee. She acknowledged the budget deficit but told us the County has always found a way to fund its programs.  There is money for 20 more police recruits.  Public safety is a main area for funds.  She wants to hear from us what is important to fund (example public safety in Wheaton). 

In response to a question about teacher pensions, she said no pension funds can be touched.  She reminded us she chairs the committee that has oversight for the school system on the Council.  She is not sure what will be cut, but is aware it will be dramatic. 

The State of Maryland wants Montgomery County to fund teacher pensions.  Legislators have to decide at the state level about pensions.  They will convene in Annapolis in January through March.  Even though Montgomery County (MC) is the largest delegation, Ms. Ervin┌s opinion is that they don┌t bring all the State funds that we could be getting.  Says the state money owed to MC for construction will never be seen.  Valerie has district 18 and 20 - they are not all on the same page - they have had a lot of trouble getting equity with Baltimore county. There is lots of money owed to MC by the State (120 milllion dollars). Our wealth index (GCI?)  makes the piggyback tax go to Baltimore (KM note- new report recently state the wealth index tax may have been calculated in error and Montgomery may indeed be owed money by the state that O'Malley stated we would be paid).

She suggests we invite our District 18 delegation to a community meeting to discuss what is going on in Annapolis.

In response to a question about funding the ICC while the County is projecting a large short fall in tax revenue, she told us there are no County monies in the ICC (need to verify details).

Wheaton Redevelopment

Sandra Tallant and Rob Klein work tag-team on Wheaton Redevelopment and it is on track.  The meetings are held at the Mid-County Services Center and anyone is welcome.  The scope of the work is on the website.  Neighbor Zoe Lefokowitz is our representative on the Wheaton Redevelopment Committee, which meets  the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

Plans are on track thanks to the Wheaton Redevelopment team┌s work.  The The Full Sector Plan will be done in 2010.

An anchor tenant is needed for downtown Wheaton- possibilities are to relocate Wheaton Library or a county function such as the Montgomery County Public Schools. Talks with MCPS broke down. Understood that moving the library is controversial in the community.  It was suggested that Wheaton, with its cheaper rents,  may become  attractive for  businesses in an economic downturn.

Valerie was just appointed to the Chesapeake Bay Trust. She wants to educate herself more on the issues.  She considers herself an environmental activist and looks for sustainability. 

She is interested in a ┐Greening Wheaton " initiative.  There are grants available from the Chesapeake Bay Trust for greening.  Perhaps extreme green ventures can work.  Park & Planning can give idea of what might be available.  A Wheaton Sustainability sub-committee is being convened to incorporate ┐Urban Greening" concepts into Wheaton redevelopment if there is sufficient interest in the community. Kathy Michels, Leah Haygood and Ed Murtagh are interested in volunteering.

Mention of Park and planning leases land that may be coming due for community gardens- (? Follow up needed).  Local First was discussed- a movement  to support  indigenous local businesses including restaurants. MRDU New Market Tax Credits for local businesses- federal initiative funds can be used.

The Avalon Bay project amendment was approved December 9 and may include ┐green features. More information is forthcoming.

Attendees advocated the concept of Mixed Use development in the neighborhood not just economically but mixed by age and family situation from families with young children to older people who need services and transport to get around so people can age in place and remain an integral part of the community.

There was a question regarding the East side entrance to Wheaton Metro. It seems this is up in the air. Many walk and bike to the metro from our community. The community has been assuming there would be a real entrance on the east side and wondered why that has not been designed in. From the discussion it sounds like it was not and that upgrading the entrance will cost $3 million.  Elevators on Reedie Dr. are open but the stairwell is closed.  Rob Klein has information about the plans

Transportation

Brief Discussion  of  Purple line and other transportation options.  The process is moving along; there is a chance for funding -- www.purplelinemd.com.  Comments can be made till January 17, 2009.

Many considerations being offered for different transportation options. 

What to do with traffic?  Most people who live in MC work in MC.  Not much East-West access in MC.  There was always a plan for a dedicated bus lane.  Nobody planned for so many cars.

In response to a question about Sky Bridges across University Blvd for pedestrians, she noted that it is a state road, not a County Road.  Email Valerie┌s office if we are concerned about a sky bridge.  She does lots of work in pedestrian safety.

In response to a question about funding the ICC while the County is projecting a large short fall in tax revenue, she told  us there are no County monies in the ICC (need to verify details).

Schools

Arcola Elementary Principal, Eric Wilson, the school┌s enrollment has grown this year to ~500.  Highly diverse student body.

Dr. Heath Morrison, Community Superintendent of 35 MC schools including the Downcounty Consortium.  All Downcounty schools in the Top 3 percent of schools nationwide ranked by Newsweek.   Many are outperforming richer schools. Consortium Elementary  schools (high schools?) are outperforming other schools in MC and MD (verify which). Highland and Kemp Mill ES especially doing very well.

He has Title One schools and doesn┌t think the Downcounty is getting their fair share from the state.
He has as goals: 5th graders in Advanced Math- this year 49%- and 8th graders completing advanced math- 78% this year. 

Downcounty Consortium- Progress or not? Has it worked?
Valerie commissioned a study on the down county consortium. The full results can be found at (need details):
(note- need discussion on what is meant by the schools working- one question raised before the meeting by an attendee who read the Gazette article on the consortium - the value of the special programs at each school that might not be viable if they only had that schools home area to draw from, Valerie mostly addressed demographics).

Heath Morrison indicated the Down County  had 5 of the 7 poorest performing schools in the county (?) but that the improvement in markers for these schools has been greater in the Consortium.  However, Valerie believes every neighborhood is connected to its high school (note: comment was made later from an attendee that the high schools in the Dow county are so close together and boundaries are so convoluted  that the concept of a neighborhood high school doesn't hold well in the Dow county).  

Meeting ended about 9:15pm.

Additional follow up conversations:

1) WTOP- Ben offered to get a contact for "greening" the WTOP grounds. Westchester CA would like more trees and screening as well. 

2) Budget process.

˙         For any issue of interest, for example, Parks invasives:  Send to director of parks and DEP as well as council- Berliner, Val Ervin  and Executive Leggett

˙         Executive sends his budget to Council in early march - In the fall the County departments send to him.

˙         Council reviews by committee and can add in and take out in April.