TOWN COUNCIL NEWS
Next meeting: Monday, January 14, 2019; 7:30 p.m. in the Council Room. The public is invited to attend. Actions at the December meeting included:
- acceptance of the Audit Report Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2018. A hard copy of the audit is available at the Town Office.
- introduction of Ordinance 2018-11; Authorizing Sale of Land Under 315 Grove Avenue.
- enactment of Ordinance 2018-13 (Elections Modernization).
- introduction and enactment of Resolution 2018-14; Joseph Craig English Recreational Field.
2018-19 Mid-year Town Government Report
prepared by the Mayor and Town Council
Friends and Neighbors,
We hope you find helpful this mid-year update on Town Government accomplishments in improving our community and addressing issues of concern. We could not have achieved any of this without the tireless commitment of our resident volunteers and committees who get things done! You are also responsible for many other events and happenings in our community that are not in the scope of this report.
Community Interest by the Town Council:
- Passed a Resolution, “A Call for Humane and Sensible Immigration Policies,” in response to the President’s harsh and unjustified treatment of children and asylum seekers.
- Passed a Resolution renaming the soccer and ball fields in Woodward Park the “Joseph Craig English Recreational Field” in recognition of Craig’s contributions to the Grove, including years establishing and organizing the Labor Day competitions.
- Issued a Proclamation honoring Joli McCathran for her many years of service to the Town in many volunteer capacities, including Mayor and Town Councilor.
Communications and Transparency:
- Draft Town Council meeting Minutes are now posted on the website within days of the meeting. Finalized Minutes replace these following Town Council approval in open meeting.
- An ad hoc Communications Group has formed and is developing ways to improve awareness and access to Town government activities.
Election Law Improvements:
- Largely as recommended by the Elections Modernization Committee, Ordinance revisions were passed to make absentee balloting easier and clarifying election official conflict of interest.
- Following the “sense of the Town” vote last May, the Town Council passed a Resolution providing for the establishment of the Dog Park in the West Woods site.
- A Dog Park Committee was formed by residents to advise the Council and Mayor on building and operating the Dog Park.
- A Resolution establishing Dog Park Rules and Regulations has been passed.
- The Dog Park site in the West Woods has been cleared, and an RFP for fence construction has been issued.
- The opening of the Dog Park is expected in the spring.
- Supported by the Mayor and Town Council, the Woods Committee continues a three-pronged program of forest health restoration. An Informational meeting was held featuring presentations by experts on deer management and non-native invasive plant control. Recordings may be viewed on the Town web site.
- A survey soliciting resident input on forest restoration plans and ongoing development of a deer control plan was distributed.
- Town Infrastructure:
- The “Jim Fletcher” Street Sign Restoration project to improve sign visibility and reflectivity, and to preserve Jim’s wonderful artwork, is nearing completion (fewer than 40 wooden signs remaining).
- A backup generator for McCathran Hall, recommended by the Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC)) has been purchased and installed.
- Fire hydrants in Town have been marked with reflective tapes by EPC volunteers to facilitate location in the dark.
- The culvert and bridge to Maple Lake has been replaced and improved by Steve Werts (and well under budget!).
- A stormwater management consultant has been engaged to recommend options for mitigating increasing damage in the Town’s woods from stormwater runoff and/or stagnation.
- A speed bump trial on Chestnut has reduced the frequency of excessive speed and increased safety. Further trials using speed humps are planned.
- Bids to repave multiple segments of Town roads have been obtained, and a 3-year plan to complete the work is under consideration, beginning this year with $50,000 of projects.
Long Term Planning:
- The periodic ten-year revision of the Town’s Master Plan, a formidable task that is critical for protecting, improving, and guiding Washington Grove into the future, continues on track for completion in 2019.
- Significant progress towards submitting the Town’s application to expand our designation on the National Registry of Historic Places has been made by the Historic Preservation Commission and our consultants.
Oversight and Regulations:
- A new Ordinance enables sale of Town land under nine structures to property owners affected by recent Town surveys that accurately defined public right of ways of the Circle and nearby avenues.
- Two Ordinances that originated with the Planning Commission were passed that modify rules for fences and carports, clarify accessory building setbacks and alter requirements for building permits.
- A Code Enforcement officer has been engaged.
Leaves Have Fallen
Fall/winter leaf collection by GreenEarth ends on January 4, 2019. They will return for a spring pick-up at the beginning of April. Check future Town Bulletins for details.
Christmas Tree Disposal
Beginning in late December, Christmas trees will be picked up roadside by Town Maintenance staff. When you place your tree out for collection, please remove all tinsel, ornaments, the stand and any other metal.
Recyclable Yard Waste Collection Over
Please note that December 27, 2018 was the last date for collection of recyclable yard waste by Potomac Disposal this year. This service will resume in early March.
To ensure that you are registered to vote at your current Washington Grove address and will appear on the proper precinct report at Town elections on May 11, residents can check their voter registration online at https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch
If you are not registered to vote in Montgomery County, instructions to accomplish that are available at Board of Elections , Montgomery County MD
Flooding In Morgan Park
The recent flooding in Morgan Park and on Railroad Street was of great concern to many of us. Mayor Compton contacted the County, and on Wednesday a DOT crew cleared out the culvert under Railroad Street (and also the CSX drainage tunnel downstream). The heavy rains had completed blockage of the pipe, and thus the subsequent flooding. The flood waters drained once the culvert was cleared. Town maintenance will monitor the pipe to try and prevent a recurrence.
Periodic flooding in Morgan Park, though usually less extensive, has been a problem for many years. The County is currently working on a replacement plan to address the capacity of the collapsing culvert that is the root of the problem, and the Town is actively communicating with the County to press for this relatively minor work to be completed as a priority.
Important Message for Washington Grove Taxpayers
Every year the Town of Washington Grove receives a portion of the Maryland State income tax paid by Town residents. Because our residents do not have mail delivered to street addresses, this presents a challenge for the State Comptroller’s office when attributing the taxes collected to Washington Grove. It is critical that all Washington Grove residents (including renters!) designate “Washington Grove.” For Maryland iFile, under “Name of county and incorporated city, town, or special taxing area in which you were a resident on the last day of the taxable period”, select “Montgomery, Washington Grove” from the drop down menu. This block is separate from the address blocks. Turbo Tax and H&R Block software also include drop down menus where you may select “Montgomery County” and then “Washington Grove.” Please share this information with your renters and your tax preparer if appropriate. This DOES NOT increase your taxes, but DOES help ensure that the Town receives its proper share of local income tax revenue. Thanks for your help! Questions, call Treasurer Mary Challstrom at 301-926-4498.
Streetlevel Cellular Antennas
New cellular technology utilizing local antennas can significantly improve wireless access to the Internet in residential areas. In the Grove, placing compact antennas at streetlevel in our neighborhood would reduce blind spots and increase bandwidth and transmission speed.
Last fall the County Council considered revisions to existing requirements for cell transmission equipment to allow local installation in residential zones. However, the legislation was tabled to allow time to resolve controversy over how little or how much control communities would have over antenna placement and appearance, and their recourse for enforcing installation requirements. The Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland Municipal League weighed in to protect local community interests, and will monitor renewed legislation this year.
You may view both their letter to the Council and the text of the zoning revisions that were tabled in 2018 on the Town web site, or obtain copies from the Town Office.
Planning Commission News…
Next meeting: Wednesday, January 2, 2019; 7:30 p.m. in the Council Room. The public is invited to attend.
Building Permit Submission Deadline
The deadline to submit a building permit application for approval by the Planning Commission and review by the Historic Preservation Commission is the 2nd Wednesday of the month prior to the PC meeting at which the permit will be reviewed (this will be in the following month). This timing ensures the HPC will be able to complete a formal review before the PC meeting as this review is required for the PC to approve the permit in a timely fashion. If you are considering any renovation or building project at your house, be sure to get a copy of the procedures to apply for a Town Building Permit which will help you through the Town’s process.
Historic Preservation Commission News…
Next meeting: Tuesday, January 15, 2019; 7:30 p.m. in the Council Room. All meetings are open to the public.
The HPC welcomes and encourages residents to come for an early consultation when considering an addition or renovation/changes to the exterior of their home. HPC can offer valuable advice early in the planning process and provide guidance with designs that are compatible with the character of the existing house and the Town. Please consider coming to the HPC as your first stop when contemplating options for your home improvement.
Forestry & Beautification News…
Next Meeting: Wednesday, March 13, 2019; 7:30 p.m. in the Council Room.
The next Forestry and Beautification meeting will be on March 13th. Please do join us! We’ll be working on plans for the spring tree planting. If you have any ideas for a new tree location please call, email, talk to Georgette ([email protected]) or Audrey ([email protected]) or any other member of the Forestry and Beautification Committee.
Woods Committee News…
Next Meeting: Monday, January 7, 2019; 7:30 p.m. in the Council Room. Meetings are on the 1st Monday of each month. The February meeting will be on the 4th. All are welcome to attend.
The Woods Committee wishes you all a very Happy New Year. We hope you will have many opportunities to enjoy Washington Grove’s forest treasures, the East and West Woods. We will continue our work to make our woodlands healthier and more accessible to you. Thanks to all of you who have helped us with our volunteer work days during the past year: mechanically removing non-native invasive plants, maintaining trails, monitoring results of our non-native invasive plant control program, erecting protective barriers around trees threatened by deer rubbing and over browsing, watering new plantings, and clearing trash in our Woods.
Thank you, also, for supporting our efforts through your feedback from our Informational Meeting in November and your hand-in surveys in December. A recording of our November Informational Meeting is available for viewing on the Woods Committee page of the Town website, thanks to the work of John Porter and Bill Saar. We welcome your continued feedback and look forward to continuing conversations about our three-pronged, integrated approach to forest health: deer management, non-native invasive plant control, and reforestation. Please feel free to contact Pat Klein or Joan Mahaffey, Woods Committee Co-chairs.
Recreation Committee News…
Next Meeting: Wed., January 16, 2019; 7:30 p.m. in the Council Room. Open to the public.
The Recreation Committee would love to have more volunteers to help keep our traditions going and bring in new ones. Anyone interested in joining should come to the next meeting!
Grove’s Grinch a Triumph!
Once again, Judy Mroczka, Marilynn Frey and their terrific theatrical team wowed Grovers with The Brothers Grinch and the Grove: A Mystery! The kids are always the biggest hit with top notch acting, music and dance performances!
The highlight of the evening was a clever, heartfelt tribute to “A Craig” English and dedication of the athletic field in his name. Thanks to Judy, Marilynn and all the volunteers that made this such a special evening!
Speaking of Labor Day, the Recreation Committee is searching for volunteer(s) to chair the Labor Day activities.
Labor Day weekend has been a long standing tradition in the Grove, and it would be a shame for it not continue. New activities and traditions would be welcome with new leadership OR Craig has a “how to” binder if you just want to carry on with the tried and true. So please contact Emily Cavey or Missy Yachup if you are interested.
Mindfulness & Meditation Class in McCathran Hall
Please e-mail Eleni directly at: [email protected] for inquiries.
Youth Dance Class
Youth dance class starting for 12 years old and up. Classes are Fridays at 5:30 PM. All levels of dance welcome. $7 a class. Call or text Samantha Beres for more info: 515-450-9167.
Film Society News
The first movie of 2019 will be Two Days, One Night, to be shown on January 13, at 7 PM in McCathran Hall. Acclaimed French actress Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, a Belgian factory worker who must persuade her co-workers to forfeit their bonuses to save her own job. Tension builds with each encounter, and we root for compassion and Sandra’s success. Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2014, Belgium, French with English subtitles, 95 minutes. ($7 at the door, without season subscription.)
A Dialogue About Muslims in America
A recent poll indicates that only one-third of residents in the DC/Maryland/Virginia metropolitan area know a Muslim person. Such a situation leads to many misconceptions and stereotypes, and it is often difficult to sift through fact and fiction. And even if you want to learn about Islam or Muslims, who do you ask and how do you ask politely? Join a panel of American Muslims for an interactive discussion in a safe space to ask questions and to learn. Panelists include Shahid Rahman, Executive Director of the American Muslim Institution; Dr. Margaret Johnson, President of Ezher Bloom Mosque; and Marjan Naderi, high school student and poet.
The program will be held on Saturday, January 12, from 2 to 4 p.m. in McCathran Hall. All residents, including students, are welcome to attend. The Recreation Committee will provide refreshments. If you have questions, please call Judy Mroczka at 301-785-3491.
Washington Grove UMC News…
Washington Grove United Methodist Church…
Our joyful family worship services are Sunday mornings at 11:00 AM, at the Washington Grove United Methodist Church, 303 Chestnut Road, Washington Grove, MD 20880 (301-947-0532).
Woman’s Club News…
You are invited to our Annual White Elephant Auction on January 26th
In Washington Grove, January is White Elephant Auction time! What is a White Elephant Auction you ask? It’s a great excuse for a good time! You bring something you’re willing to part with, be it useful, beautiful or just plain goofy, then join the fun as it’s auctioned off to the highest bidder.
This year’s auction will be hosted by Terry & Chris Kirtz on Saturday, January 26, 2019, 7:00 PM, in their home at 102 Center Street. Mark this fun event on your calendars!
January is Our Annual Membership Drive
The Woman’s Club’s 2019 dues of a modest $15 are due starting in January. In addition to donating funds to help support the Summer In the Parks program, the Acorn Library and the Holiday Show, we also host annual Town events like the January White Elephant Sale, the February Chili Dinner, the Spring Egg Hunt, the May Flower Show, the June Progressive Porch Party, the September Pot Luck Supper, and other special events such as guest speakers and, of course, all year we collect for our Community Outreach programs.
Community Outreach programs
The Washington Grove Elementary School’s Teachers Closet
We collect school supplies all year for the Teachers Closet. We hope to keep it filled with things like glue sticks, pencils and sharpeners, paper, hand sanitizers and tissues, and other supplies. Without our help, teachers will all too often end up buying these things out of their own pockets.
Working with Interfaith Works
While the less fortunate children of our County need essentials, they also need occasional treats in their lives, and we help provide these by collecting Birthday Presents and small Treasure Chest items to be distributed through Interfaith Works.
There is also an ongoing need for new underwear for boys and girls from toddlers to teens. Last year our Town provided over 250 pair. We have developed sources for purchasing the underwear, so the easiest way to help with this need is through money donations.
White Socks for the Gude Men’s Shelter
Winter is hard enough for the homeless without going without socks! We are continuing to collect new white socks for the men at the Shelter.
The Linus Project
For those who like to work with fabric, this year we’re supporting The Linus Project, which makes fleece blankets for children in need of comfort when they are in the hospital or foster care. In March, we will be having an evening at the Clubhouse to get this project started. Stay tuned…
Where to Bring Your Donations
Whatever pulls at your heart strings, we have a need you can fulfill. Even though our Clubhouse is closed for the winter, we still have bins on the porch to collect for our Community Outreach Programs, or you can drop off your contributions in the painted can on Wendy Weisbard’s porch at 119 Grove Road. Drop off your contributions and we’ll sort where they go! Checks are always appreciated too, just put in the memo field if you want your donation to go to a specific project.
Washington Grove Cares News…
Wildfires are an ever-growing threat to life and property in the U.S., particularly in the West.
On Sunday, February 3, at 3 pm, Don Henninger will present “Some Thoughts on Wildfires: Smokey the Bear vs. Hank Williams.” As the second speaker in WGC’s What’s My Line? Grovers Revealed series, Don, who has a B.S. in Forestry, will discuss how attitudes towards fires have changed since he worked out West to control fires. He’ll talk about why those changes have taken place and give examples of how wildfires and controlled burns are now used as vegetative management tools. We hope you will join your neighbors in McCathran Hall for this thought-provoking and timely talk.