November 8, 2021 | Approved December 13, 2021
The regular meeting of the Town Council was held remotely via ZOOM Video Conferencing. The meeting was recorded.
Mayor Compton called the meeting of the Town Council to order at 7:32 p.m. In attendance were Councilors Darrell Anderson, David Cosson, Christine Dibble, Patty Klein, Barbara Raimondo, and Gray Yachup. Also in attendance were Treasurer Jean Moyer and approximately 50 other Town residents.
Approval of Agenda
Pat Klein moved to approve the agenda. Barbara Raimondo seconded the motion. Mayor Compton added review of September minutes and Christine Dibble added testimony at the Corridor Forward Hearing to the agenda, Vote: 6-0, approved, as amended.
Mayor Compton stated the Final Report of Washington Grove, MD Shared Use Pathway Task Force (PDF) will be presented to the Mayor and Town Council at this meeting. There will be no public comments tonight. Public comment on the Report will be taken at a Special Town Meeting which will likely be scheduled later in this meeting. The Task Force Report will be on the website by tomorrow.
Meredith Horan reported the hard tennis court was being marked-up by non-residents for pickleball use, and that the chalk lines were distracting to one’s tennis game. There was a discussion about whether pickleball should be allowed and the process to consider it.
Action: This matter will be evaluated by a group of volunteers lead by Councilor Dibble, who has responsibility for Playgrounds.
Lisa Kokes expressed her concerns about vacant homes and an abandoned car near The Circle. She was concerned that the neglect created a home for vermin, a safety hazard, and deterioration of structures. Lisa has contacted Montgomery County but asked whether the Town shouldn’t also be proactive regarding unoccupied residences. The discussion that followed touched on the foregoing issues and the role of Montgomery County and the town’s Planning Commission in addressing the problem. A resident indicated they had contacted Montgomery County about two of the vacant homes and that evidence of pruning and removal of vines from the exterior of the home suggested that the County had acted in some manner. Mayor Compton wondered if a record of Montgomery County responses might be obtained.
Action: Christine Dibble and Pat Klein will follow-up on this matter with the County and report back to the Council perhaps in December.
Approval of Minutes
Minutes of September 13, 2021 – Proposed edits by Pat Klein were considered as previously agreed at the October Town Council meeting. Mayor Compton reminded all that meeting minutes should not attempt to capture individual comments, nor include extraneous, unnecessary statements. Pat Klein stated she felt some clarifying amendments should be made, particularly to better capture the discussion of the draft Woods Committee resolution. Barbara Raimondo did not recall that the motion approving the September minutes included a stipulation allowing further review, and it was not recorded a stipulation noted. She stated that going over the minutes again was inefficient and unproductive. Mayor Compton reviewed Councilor Klein’s suggested edits and noted that a number of them would provide some useful clarity. Pat Klein concurred and moved to approve those amendments to the minutes. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion.
The Council discussed both the process and the amount of time being consumed at Council meetings to review and amend meeting minutes. Christine Dibble stated the Mayor and Council spend far too much time amending minutes during the meeting. Barbara Raimondo is continuing to look into using meeting recordings to enable written minutes to be more concise. Proposed edits to the Minutes should be received early enough by the Council for review prior to meetings. Councilors Dibble and Anderson suggested they would not consider edits received less than 72 hours in advance. Vote to amend: 4-3, approved, with three in favor (Cosson, Dibble, Klein), three opposed (Anderson, Raimondo, Yachup), and Mayor Compton voting in favor to break the tie.
Minutes of October 11, 2021 – Pat Klein moved to approve the October 11, 2021 Minutes of the Town Council. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Amendments were proposed to clarify the matters of the speed hump proposed on lower Ridge Road, the EV charging stations, and access from Ridge Road to 108 Ridge. Vote: 6-0, approved as amended.
Pat Klein moved acceptance of the October 2021 Treasurer’s Report (PDF). Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote: 6-0, accepted.
Mayor Compton offered major kudos to the members of the Shared Use Pathway Task Force for their exceptionally energetic, hard work, and thoroughness in producing the Shared Use Pathway Connection Report. They met, and went beyond, expectations in assembling a fact-based presentation of criteria to aid in choosing among the connection options. Their report will help the Town make the best decision about location of the pathway connection to town.
Update on the Revision of the Comprehensive Plan
Mayor Compton reminded all of the huge amount of work expended by those involved in this process for the past 14-15 months. Planning Commissioner Georgette Cole, chairperson for the revision, reviewed the status of the plan. They are working their way through suggestions from the Maryland Department of Planning and other state agencies and anticipate scheduling the required Planning Commission Public Hearing on the Comprehensive Plan in January. She encouraged folks to go to the Town website to review the draft plan.
Update on the PO Box Policy at the Washington Grove Post Office
There was nothing new to report on this subject.
Refuse and Recycling Pickup
Residents have complained to Mayor Compton about co-mingling recyclables by Potomac Disposal again. The Mayor reported on a meeting with Potomac Disposal representatives in September where they agreed to adhere to the decision that they would notify the Town if yard waste could not be recycled that week. Potomac Disposal also disclosed that they are having trouble hiring which could lead to a cost increase to the Town for service in the coming year.
Snow Removal Contract
With Steve Werts retiring, it will be necessary to engage someone else to take care of the Town’s snow removal needs. The modified version of the RFP used in previous years will be distributed in the next week or two.
- Town Employee Dental Plan Changed: Treasurer Jean Moyer gave a brief history of the Town’s current and described the new dental plan. The new plan, administered by CareFirst, provides similar benefits at more predictable cost to the Town.
- Status of Maintenance Supervisor Search: Darrell Anderson reported on responses from posting the position on Indeed.com. Darrell will get together with John Tomlin to review the few that fit the Town’s needs. Those responding mostly were qualified for the maintenance duties of the job, but less so for the groundskeeping part of the job. He suggested that the position description may need revision to attract fully qualified candidates. The Council discussed splitting the job, considering contracting out groundskeeping, having Steve Werts participate in the interview process, and other aspects of the search. Steve will be continuing as Maintenance Supervisor through December.
- Update on Exploration of Using Audio/Video Recordings as the Official Minutes of Town Council Meetings and Posting to the Town Website: Barbara Raimondo will continue to explore using audio/video recordings as official Minutes or as supplementary to more concise written minutes. She reported that for Zoom meetings hosts may turn on closed captioning in the Zoom settings and then individuals can turn on captioning/live transcription from their computer. This improves access for people who are hard of hearing or deaf
Shared Use Pathway Task Force Report
Review of the Process for Council Reconsideration of the Shared Use Pathway Connection: Mayor Compton reviewed actions by the Town Council that resulted in the reconsideration process in progress, noting:
- The Council action in March 2021 supporting the Brown Street connection among the three pathways studied by Montgomery County.
- The County Planning Board recommended in April 2021 the Brown Street option for continued study.
- The Petition submitted to the Council in June 2021 asking, among other things, for appointment of a Task Force to study all connection options and report fact-based information on all relevant factors to the Town.
- In response to the Petition, the action by the Town Council on June 30th that:
- Created the Shared Use Pathway Connection Task Force.
- Asked that the Task Force Report be delivered to the Town Council today, November 8.
- Specified that a Special Town Meeting would be scheduled for presentation of the Task Force Report and for residents to discuss the Report findings and to offer comment on the shared use pathway connection options.
- Committed the Town Council to vote on a shared use pathway option at a date after the Town Meeting.
Presentation of the Task Force Report by Co-Chairs Gary Temple and Kriss Grisham: Co-Chairs Temple and Grisham summarized the Task Force findings to the Mayor and Council and Task Force members answered a few questions from the Council. The Council agreed to postpone asking in-depth questions on the Report until the Special Town Meeting.
Questions and Comments:
Barbara Raimondo thanked the Task Force for their monumental work She asked that, given the breadth of information collected, what was the process used to decide what ultimately was included in the report. Eva Patrone explained the process and use of criteria groups.
Dave Cosson asked whether the Task Force had considered standard safety mitigation efforts (signs, lights, paint on the road, improving visibility, etc.) for the Railroad Street/Salt Barn option. Eva Patrone explained they had not because it was outside the purview of their study, but she stated there were things the Town could do to improve safety. The Task Force judged the Ridge Road entrance to be inherently hazardous and it would not be easy to fix the problems in their opinion. Dave suggested a crosswalk with a flashing light.
Darrell Anderson asked about the bike use data for the Needwood and ICC paths. A Task Force member replied that Montgomery County representative Kyle Lucas (MCDOT project lead for the Washington Grove Connector Study) provided data showing up to 10 bikes per hour passing through those areas.
Pat Klein stated she reviewed the Task Force report and prior to this meeting had sent her questions to the Task Force for their response. She expressed concern about types of evidence used by the Task Force in the report, her understanding of the County’s Phase I and Phase II planning, design, and funding process for the project, and she seeks further clarification why widening of the roadway was necessary to extend the pathway along Railroad Street, when a dedicated pathway on Town land was also possible. She asked the Task Force to review her questions and for clarification of facts which she believed were incorrect.
In response to a question, Eva Patrone reported that Kyle Lukacs was asked what the County might do if the Town favored a different pathway connection option other than Brown Street. It was his opinion that further work might be delayed and was uncertain whether the project could be redirected or would be cancelled.
Gray Yachup thanked the Task Force for their stellar job with the report. He felt the report was as factual as such a study could be. He noted how frustrating repeated review of established facts could be frustrating, and that it seemed time to move on.
Schedule the Special Town Meeting for Resident Review and Discussion of the Shared Use Pathway Task Force Report:
Mayor Compton reminded everyone that all are welcome to comment at the Special Town Meeting. By consensus, the meeting was scheduled for Saturday, December 4th at 10:00 AM.
After brief discussion of whether the Special Town Meeting should be virtual or in-person, Pat Klein moved to hold the meeting in virtual form, noting that many town residents are reluctant to meet indoors in large gatherings while the COVID19 pandemic continues to pose health risks. Darrell Anderson seconded the motion. Vote was by roll call: five in favor (Anderson, Cosson, Dibble, Klein, Yachup) to one opposed (Raimondo).
Methods for voting at the virtual meeting were discussed, including raising hands on camera or using the “virtual hand” feature. The polling feature in Zoom was demonstrated. Voting procedure will be further explored with the Board of Supervisors of Elections.
Town Council Reports
Items of Note (See the full Council reports below).
- Update on the Deer Management Bow Hunt: Pat Klein reported that three does have been harvested to date, two in the West Woods and one in the East Woods.
- Forestry & Beautification Committee to Plant 18 Trees This Fall: Georgette Cole (Committee Co-Chair) reported the planting was going very well. She gave thanks to Jay Everhart for all his help. Mayor Compton lamented over the number of old oaks dying, and stressed the importance of the Town planting new canopy trees. The recent removal of a large and apparently healthy oak tree by a resident from their property on Washington Grove Lane was discussed, including the option of requiring a permit before a tree on private property could be removed. Examples of other municipalities requiring such permits was mentioned.
- Landscaping Enhancements to Railroad Street Proposed: A proposal created several years ago to improve landscaping along the CSX tracks and Morgan Park was presented to the Border Committee for review.
- Holiday Show to be Virtual: Mayor Compton reported the Holiday Show will, once again, be a virtual performance.
- Two possibilities for the use of American Rescue Plan funds have been proposed: stormwater management in the West Woods, which the Woods Committee plans to pursue, and the extension of water service down lower Ridge Road.
Vote: 6-0, Town Council Reports accepted and will be posted to the website.
Status of HPC and PC Review of the Proposal for Pepco to Install Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Both the HPC and PC need more time to review this proposal.
- Leaf Collection: Can leaves be mulched in place instead of collected for disposal? This item will be moved to the December agenda.
- Montgomery County Corridor Forward Plan: The County Planning Board has scheduled a Public Hearing on this plan for December 9th [go to 9:04:10 of the meeting to hear the discussion]. Christine Dibble believes the Town should pay close attention to the Plan’s support for extending the Metro Red Line along the CSX tracks to Germantown. The Planning Board is already talking about taking easements. She believes it would be a big mistake to go forward with this plan, plans to speak as a town resident at the Public Hearing, and urges others to speak or submit testimony. She encouraged someone to speak for the Town about such impacts on Washington Grove as visibility, noise, access to cross the tracks, quality of life etc. Discussion touched on the following: expanded use of the MARC train for up-county riders, early opposition to the plan, property annexations, written testimony being more effective than in-person, mitigations if this happens, updating the Comprehensive Plan to include this issue.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m.
Kathryn L. Lehman
Reports from Individual Councilors about their Areas of Responsibility
Table of Contents
- McCathran Hall
- Maryland Municipal League
- Roads and Walkways
- Shady Grove Crossing
- Washington Grove Conservation Park
- Website and Communications
Reports about Activities of Grove Commissions
Historic Preservation Commission (Darrell Anderson)
The HPC held a virtual meeting on October 19, 2021; the next meeting will be held on November 16, 2021, at 7:30 pm by virtual means.
The HPC reviewed three potential permits:
- the PEPCO proposal for placement of EV stations;
- the COMCAST proposal for replacing overhead cables; and
- a screened front porch at 208 Washington Grove Lane (Sisson).
Alberto Zagrada presented information from PEPCO on the EV stations. After a presentation from Bob Booher, the focus became on a station on Chestnut Road near the Women’s Club and the Town Hall. An important point was made that according to the requirements for EV stations is that they are to be placed on municipal land rather than private property. It will be important for the Town to get all information by the December HPC meeting for a comprehensive review. Mr. Zagrada provided a link to EV stations in historic districts in Boston. In summary, PEPCO is offering the charging stations free of charge, but this may not be so in the future. Concerns were expressed by HPC members included the size and look of the stations and wanted to know if they may be smaller and more attractive in the future. The HPC did not feel they had enough information at this time to fulfill the request from the Town Council; the report will have to wait until subsequent meetings.
Re: the Comcast permit, Town HPC, F&B, and maintenance toured the area to be impacted. Mitigation was discussed and deadlines would be removed. Very little impact to trees would occur. Comcast has not submitted the Public Ways permit, but the HPC will begin to write a preliminary review based on letters and other communication with Comcast.
The Sisson screened front porch was discussed and the HPC viewed the pans favorably, with a few changes recommended. A review will be written and submitted to the Planning Commission.
Wendy met with the outside archeological members and will map specific areas. They will return for the archeological tour in a few days. Everything is flagged so residents can go look at them. Ultimately, they will write a report for the Town.
For the bike path discussion, David made it clear that the alternate path through the field (2b) is not being advocated by the HPC. A discussion ensued that this is not the position of the HPC, but a comment made by David separate from the HPC. The HPC will resubmit three documents to the Multiuse Pathway Task Force.
The HPC discussed the joint session of the town Council/HPC/Planning Commission on demolition. Everyone felt it was a positive meeting and some good ideas. The PC felt that they are interested in moving forward.
Planning Commission (Christine Dibble)
- The PC had an extensive discussion at its November 2021 meeting about the possibility of installing Pepco electric vehicle charging stations (EVCSs) in the Grove. Bob Booher made a presentation about potential locations, costs etc. It appears unlikely that the members of the PC will be able to arrive at a consensus about whether to recommend installation of the EVCSs in the Grove. The PC will schedule more discussion at its December meeting. Of note, many PC members believe that it would be useful to have the Town’s attorney review the Code of Ordinances to determine whether any ordinances would need to be amended in order to permit the installation of the EVCSs.
- Georgette Cole expressed concern that a snow-plowing contract be put into place as soon as possible for any snow or ice that we may incur this winter.
Reports about Activities of Grove Committees
Border Committee (Pat Klein)
The Border Committee met on October 14th to discuss the following topics.
Signage: The Town Council approved the SignCity bid for “Welcome” signs to be produced. The HPC chair recommended the Border Committee have the vendor provide a mock-up of the actual sign colors to original specifications before making the signs.
Identity Fencing: The Committee discussed moving forward with identify fencing at Silver Dollar Court/6th Avenue noting significant trash has been dumped at that corner near the East Woods trail entrance. Identify fencing at that site would discourage such practices.
Discussion was deferred until the November meeting about vehicle noise control and speeding along Washington Grove Lane and Railroad Street but improved observance by drivers of the Maple Lake crosswalk on WGL was noted.
The Committee considered a vision for RR Street and WGL improvements. The HPC chair showed a 2011 proposed graphic rendition of RR St. as a more “welcoming” environment with landscaped enhancements. The Committee agreed that a joint strategy meeting of all relevant Town committees would be the best approach to move forward.
The next Border Committee meeting will be November 11, 2021.
Dog Park Committee (Christine Dibble)
Grove dogs and their owners continue to meet most weekends on Saturday or Sunday mornings for playdates.
Emergency Preparedness and Safety Committee (Pat Klein)
The EPSC met on October 28th to discuss the following topics.
Speeding vehicles on WGL and Railroad Street: The EPSC drafted a letter for the Mayor to send to the Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich requesting the following actions:
- an evaluation for speed cameras on WGL and Railroad Street;
- new or enhanced speed bumps on both streets; and
- increased enforcement of traffic violations and vehicle equipment regulations.
The EPSC chair will send the final draft letter to the Mayor for consideration.
Lower Ridge Road: EPSC members planned to meet on Sunday, 10/31 to clear vegetation from the guard rail at the end of Lower Ridge Road and apply reflective tape to improve visibility for drivers to recognize the barrier well in advance. Reflective tape would be applied to several street signs along the road to draw attention to the speed limit and dead-end warnings.
Overgrown vegetation obscuring road signs along several WG roads: EPSC identified several road signs in Town obscured by vegetation that pose a traffic safety hazard. EPSC will request Town Maintenance to trim the overgrowth or assist if needed.
The EPSC will not meet in November due to the Thanksgiving holiday. The next EPSC meeting will be Thursday, December 16, 2021.
Forestry and Beautification Committee (Barbara Raimondo)
- An article on spruces has been prepared for the Town Bulletin.
- Eighteen trees will be planted by Stadler Nurseries in early November.
- Georgette has been in contact with Go Native Tree Farm, located in Lancaster, PA, to purchase several hickories for proposed spring 2022 planting.
- The segment in front of #17 The Circle will be graded and sodded this fall.
- Once the new WG welcome signs are installed at the various entrances in town, F&B will install plantings to further enhance the areas.
Lake Committee (Gray Yachup)
- Measurements and reports: The last two measurements of E. coli have been within acceptable parameters.
- Flora and fauna: No major changes to flora or fauna.
- Miscellaneous: The Lake Committee continues to have productive meetings with RASEC regarding how we can best incorporate racial equity into our operations.
Lighting Committee (Dave Cosson)
The Lighting Committee met on October 27th and discussed the following:
Bollard Lights at McCathran Hall: In accordance with direction from the Town Council, a request to the Maryland Historic Trust is being drafted to seek approval for installation of the bollard lights as a test, plus additional lights near the entrance to the Hall and on the walkway leading to the Council Room. Contact with the Trust has been made to advise the incoming request.
Streetlight Options: To date, Pepco has not filed any new streetlight proposals, following rejection by the Public Service Commission of its prior approach. Nevertheless, the Committee intends to seek discussions with other municipalities in an effort to build a consensus and coalition to participate in any future proceeding. The objective remains to ensure the Town has a realistic option to purchase its own lighting facilities.
Comprehensive Plan Submission: The Committee made editorial revisions to the draft of its proposed section of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan. The revised version will be submitted upon completion.
Lighting Ordinance: The Committee discussed, but reached no conclusions, on the question of whether to recommend the Town adopt a lighting ordinance to regulate residents’ lighting that illuminates their neighbors’ or town property. At this time the preferable approach appears to be neighbor to neighbor discussions where there are problems. The Committee does recommend that residents’ exterior lighting should be “dark sky” compliant.
Next Meeting: December 8th, 7:30 p.m.
Racial and Social Equity Committee (Barbara Raimondo)
Met in October. Topics discussed were the Town assessment, an event with neighboring communities, website planning, accessory dwelling units, and others. Next meeting is November 11.
Recreation Committee (Gray Yachup)
- Halloween was a success!
- No currently pending Rec Committee projects.
- Montgomery Municipal Cable (MMC) is working with Judy Mroczka and the Holiday Show crew to film the virtual show this year. It is going wonderfully. MMC is also filming an architectural tour of the Grove as we speak, and crews may be seen around Town.
Woods Committee (Dave Cosson)
The Woods Committee (WC) met on November 1st by Zoom and discussed the following:
Deer Management: The deer hunting season opened September 10th. Two does have been harvested to date by BHFFMD, one in the East Woods, the other in the West Woods.
Trail Maintenance Projects
Improved Trail Mapping: The Committee continued discussion of using GPS-based mobile apps to improve the accuracy of trail maps. Several members will test out these apps and report back on the use of the systems.
Rerouting Trails to Avoid Wetlands: The Committee is reevaluating its earlier intention to extend the “timber turnpikes” through the portion of Maple Avenue Extended that is chronically wet. Based on the recommendations by the MC Parks trails manager, the Committee is considering closing off the wet trail sections and rerouting the trail to higher ground to intersect with the McCauley and Pine trails. Closed portions of the rerouted trails should be blocked with downed tree logs. Other MC Parks recommendations include limiting trail use in sensitive and protected areas to walkers.
West Woods Trail Connection to Daylily Lane: Following discussion at the previous meeting, a West Woods trail has been recreated from Daylily Lane connecting to the Poplar trail to provide safe passage for Daylily Lane residents to Maple Lake and the Washington Grove Lane crosswalk. The trail will be named Ironwood Trail in recognition of the many Ironwood trees in the area.
November 11 Workday: A notice was posted in the November Town Bulletin to recruit town volunteers to help on the East Woods workday. One focus will be completion of the new Bradford Crossing and rerouting the trail, including the nearby spur to the champion Blackjack Oak [Quercus marilandica]. Town maintenance has packed soil over the new culvert. The culvert will be reinforced with rocks. The trail to the former crossing will be blocked. Additional activity will include placing tree protectors on trees with evidence of deer rubbing.
American Rescue Plan Funding of Stormwater Projects: The Committee discussed how best to utilize the extensive work of the Stormwater Management Committee to prepare proposals for ARP-funded projects to mitigate stormwater erosion in the West Woods from multiple sources. The Committee expects its review of that work may lead to an RFP for engineering assistance. Coordination with the County and the City of Gaithersburg will be necessary.
Next Meeting: Monday, December 6th, 7:30 pm
Reports about Other Grove Activities
Accessibility of Zoom Meetings (Barbara Raimondo)
Researched Americans with Disabilities Act requirements that apply to TWG; researched differences between live captioning and auto captioning; posted a notice on the listserv inviting individuals to contact me with opinions regarding accessibility and captioning; posted Zoom link for Town committees to use the Zoom auto captioning feature.
Contracts (Dave Cosson)
The contract for new entrance signs with SignCity was signed and returned. The leaf collection contract for 2021-22 has been signed. Residents have raised questions about whether recycling and lawn waste are being handled property. Mayor Compton will report on this issue.
McCathran Hall (Barbara Raimondo)
Nothing to report.
Maintenance (Darrell Anderson)
The season for steady grass-cutting is winding down, but the continual rains are still making the grass and brush grow. Much of maintenance time required grass-cutting, brush removal, and trips to the dump. Purchased gas when needed. Completed paperwork as required. Worked in the maintenance shop if needed or weather dictated.
- Met with Guardian Fire at Town Hall for smoke detector inspections.
- Installed new split rail fence on Grove Road (for F&B).
- Replaced six damaged stop signs.
- Met with Georgette Cole, Bob Booher, Gail Littlefield and a Comcast representative (on Brown Street).
- Worked on the clay tennis court.
- Worked on the sediment pond on lower Brown Street.
- Fixed ruts on Ridge Road (in front of 116).
- Made a path in the East Woods to Bradford Crossing (to transport the buggy).
- Met Georgette and Audrey to go over work being done in The Circle for F&B.
- Hauled seven loads of dirt from the shop into the East Woods (to Bradford Crossing) for the Woods Committee.
- Installed another section of border fence at Railroad and Grove Ave.
- Met with M.T. Laney to cover paving work being done on Ridge Road.
- Picked up topsoil and mulch from Seasons Nursery
- Cut grass
- Went to Laytonsville Landscaping twice to pick up sod for The Circle (F&B project) Put down pallet of sod in The Circle. Watered new sod.
- Watered five newly planted trees installed by Stadler Nursery and new sod.
- Blew leaves off the roof at Town Hall and fixed gutter (clogged under the ground).
- Disconnected the surveillance cameras at the lake for the Lake Committee (for winter storage).
- Met with Georgette, Audrey and IPC contractor about spraying.
- Cut up a tree in the Town Garden (blown down during rainstorm).
Maryland Municipal League (Darrell Anderson)
The MML held a virtual meeting on October 14, 2021, at 6:30 pm. The next meeting will be held on November 18, 2021. It has not been determined whether this will be virtual or in person.
Montgomery County Board of Education President Brenda Wolffe provided an update on what MCPS is doing to provide a safe environment for the 160,000 students who returned in in-person classes this fall. There has been high uptake of vaccines in school children eligible for the vaccine, which has dramatically reduced the need to close schools or impose quarantine to many students. Mask mandates also have been effective. Staffing still is down, but the County is working hard to fill vacancies, with recruitment of retired staff and recruiting out-of-state teachers while temporarily waiving some certification requirements. For those certified in other states. The County has seen some small angry protests regarding COVID-19 restrictions, but not at the level in some states or counties.
Monifa McKnight, MCPS Staffing Department, provided more detailed information on staffing needs and strategies. Some of the highlights include more funds for hiring counselors and social workers to deal with COVID-19 issues, especially for students who have lost family members during the pandemic. In addition, ore than $400M has been added to the MC CIP budget for staffing and school construction.
After the meeting in a follow-up to questions, MML provided an update on the tax duplication issue. The Chapter has requested an early draft of the bill and recommendations.t. Given the draft nature, MML asked that it not be shared or posted externally. This is for internal discussions with our respective municipalities. Those items that apply to Washington Grove, and are general in nature include:
- codify the calculation of reimbursements to municipalities for eligible costs;
- alter the requirements for municipalities to participate in the program;
- provide for a timeline of when certain reimbursement activities must be accomplished; and
- provide a three-year phased implementation of full reimbursements.
County CEO Rich Madaleno has been asked to attend the November MML meeting to update this issue.
COVID-19 Community Committee (CCC) and 2020 Census
The County-wide CCC and Census group met on November 1, 2021, by virtual means. The next meeting will be scheduled with the Regional committees TBD.
COVID-19 Update. Sean O’Donnell (HHS) reported that the County continues to lead the nation in vaccine uptake for counties of our size. Minority and age 12 to 17 uptake is also highest in Maryland. Complete reports may be found on the MC DHS Pulse Reports here. These reports are updated weekly on Wednesdays.
The County is ready to vaccinate ages 5 to 11 years as soon as the CDC authorizes them. More than 200 pediatrician offices and the regional health centers will have doses this week. In addition, weekend school vaccination sites are being opened as does become available.
2020 Census Update. Corrine Blankford (DHS) provided a plethora of slides showing updated 2020 Census data. The County had a 78.2% response rate, which was above the national and Maryland rates. Since 1990, the County has become a majority-minority population. Disparities in economics, educational levels, and housing abound, but are improving from the 2000 and 2010 censuses. All data and the slide show are posted on the DHS Census website.
Eviction and Rental Assistance Update. Lorine Driscoll (DHCA) presented an update on the COVID-19 rental assistance program and eviction updates. At this time, it is estimated that 15% of the 15-20,000 county renters are in areas. DHCA has provided rental assistance to approximately 7,000 renters, but more outreach is required to use the existing monies. DHCA provides monetary, legal, and other support for those being evicted.
Playgrounds and Tennis Courts (Christine Dibble)
Nothing to report this month.
Roads and Walkways (Gray Yachup)
- Currently working on a comprehensive status report of all Town roads to present to the next Maintenance Supervisor, so that we can pick up seamlessly with road repair projects.
- Working on creating a standardized process for requesting/approving projects like speedbumps, road repairs, or other similar maintenance projects.
Shady Grove Crossing (Barbara Raimondo)
Nothing to report.
Washington Grove Conservation Park (Upper Field) (Dave Cosson)
Nothing to report.
Website and Communications (Christine Dibble)
I have completed my review and reformatting of the website’s 100+ pages. I am currently:
- Identifying content owners for all pages and asking them to review page content and send me updates;
- Populating the sortable tables of all Town ordinances and all Town resolutions, and identifying gaps in these tables.