Monday, June 20, 2016

Montgomery County Council betrayed you again - will they admit it on Tuesday? (Photos)

A picture is worth a thousand words - and here are pictures of the contract Montgomery County quietly signed to purchase 1000 Westmore Avenue for use as a school bus parking facility. 10 acres of undeveloped land in an industrial wasteland cost you, the taxpayer, $12 million at the same time that the County Council was raising your taxes to the highest level in history, and County employees were denied the wage increases guaranteed by their labor contracts.

As the Council prepares to take up the larger controversial issue of the County's "Smart Growth Initiative," and its requirement to find a new location for the Shady Grove bus depot, there are 3 things to watch for in Tuesday's worksession:

1. Will the County Council apologize to the affected communities, and admit that their votes brought us to this point?

Councilmembers, like hack actors ill-prepared for the role of a lifetime, attempted to pose as heroes-to-the rescue once the Carver Coalition was formed to fight a bus depot proposed for the Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville. Problem is, the County Council are the very people who voted to approve funding for the land acquisition, design and construction of bus depots at Carver and Westmore.

That's right. The contract you see here was the direct result of a 2015 vote by the County Council, which provided the funds the County Department of General Services used to purchase the Westmore site. Whoops!

Likewise, a February 9, 2016 resolution passed unanimously by the County Council provided funds for the design and construction of a bus depot at Carver. Councilmember George Leventhal conveniently forgot about that vote when he appeared as a crusader for justice at a Carver-related public meeting. He proclaimed to have nothing to do with the Carver fiasco. When a citizen confronted him with the text of the February 9 resolution, and asked him to read it aloud, Leventhal refused to do so.

Leventhal later stated he had not read the resolution before voting for it, an incredible statement any way you slice it. Our councilmembers don't read the bills and resolutions they vote for?! Unreal.

The Council didn't admit their role then, and they haven't since. Tomorrow is a fabulous opportunity for them to belatedly admit that they alone had the true power to create this fiasco via these two votes, and their longtime support for the insane idea known as the "Smart Growth Initiative." Don't just bash DGS for an hour, own up to your major role in this mess.

2. Will Tuesday just be a back-and-forth between DGS, MCPS and the Council, which loves to hear itself talk? Or will the civic association leaders and municipal elected officials of Rockville and Gaithersburg have a seat at the table, as well?

3. Will the Council end the discussion by pulling the plug on the Smart Growth Initiative, by committing to not signing the Declaration of No Further Need for the existing bus depot on Crabbs Branch Way, thereby risking legal action by the developer?

What the Council hasn't admitted so far, but has a chance to acknowledge tomorrow, is that there is no acceptable site to relocate 410 school buses to within the borders of Montgomery County. Period.

The County has reviewed 200 properties in the desperate search for a depot. Choosing two adjacent to residential neighborhoods at Carver and Westmore proves the point that there is no dream site - otherwise, they wouldn't have risked the political uproar they now face.

Every single site discussed and dismissed in the past was in a residential area, from Potomac to the Webb Tract in Montgomery Village. Every community fought back, and they'll fight back on the Gude landfill (Derwood homes are directly adjacent) and Public Safety Academy (North Potomac homes are across the street) sites if DGS goes there next.

Only by pulling the plug will the County be unable to use the Westmore site for school bus parking. Of course, then the County (a.k.a. you, the taxpayer) will face legal action from the developer, and the costs and payouts that might entail. There again, the Council must be held accountable for its reckless actions in the Smart Growth/bus depot debacle. There must be consequences for their actions.

Tuesday is not a day for the Council to toast themselves as heroes, but a day to begin to face the music for their disregard for their constituents, and for prioritizing developers over people in Montgomery County.


Poppy said...

Sorry Robert, but the council is not to blame here, the residents are. If parents cared enough to see to it that their children had a safe, eco-friendly, progressive reliable method of transport to school, we would not need school buses in the first place. Children are not cattle and should not be funneled onto large diesel-belching freight transports.

Anonymous said...

The fake personality of Poppy need to stop commenting on real issues. The alleged satire is too close to reality to be funny.
He(the writer) is marginalizing something of concern to residents.

Anonymous said...

I thought we decided to have the bus parking lot across the street from Casey Anderson's house?
Can someone suggest that at today's meeting?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Robert seriously can you not afford a new Betrayed sign

Anonymous said...

@ 7:19 AM - Seriously indeed. Whoever made that sign just tore a piece of cardboard and left raggedy edges.

Anonymous said...

The sign was made by a resident who was at the meeting. That's what makes it meaningful.

Anonymous said...

hey dyer... when is the tears for fears reunion?

Anonymous said...

What's the connection to Westbard? I see the sign with the "Save Westbard" stickers, but this seems more like a County wide article.

Anonymous said...

Was the sales contract contingent on planning approval? In other words, can MoCo back out if they don't end up using it as a bus depot? Seems like that would be a wise way to write the contract.

I know Westmore Avenue because I get my car serviced at a shop at the end of it. I'm surprised they'd allow a bus depot there. While that section is industrial, the section of Westmore leading to it is very residential and quite narrow as well.. or do they plan to build another access road?

Robert Dyer said...

2:15: There's been some discussion for years about restoring a connection between Westmore and 355, but I believe that was opposed by residents concerned about increasing cut-through traffic. So the current plan assumes use of the narrow neighborhood streets.

Robert Dyer said...

2:15: Regarding the contract, there is no contingency, so MoCo will have to sell it, or find another use for the property at this point. I believe their only out expired April 30.

Anonymous said...

"There's been some discussion for years about restoring a connection between Westmore and 355, but I believe that was opposed by residents concerned about increasing cut-through traffic."

A few months back, Dyer was carrying on about how construction of the Red Line had "divided communities". Westmore Road was the only grade crossing along the entire above-ground portion of the western Red Line that was closed and not replaced by a grade-separated crossing either at the same location or within a quarter-mile, or by a pedestrian bridge.

Now the folks who were complaining about it being closed 35 years ago, don't want it re-opened. NIMBYs are funny that way.

Robert Dyer said...

5:34: You're lying again. There were many more than one crossing closed for the Red Line in Rockville.

Anonymous said...

Going going from Shady Grove station south to Randolph Road, these were the only grade crossings that were affected by the construction of the Red Line in the 1980s:

1) Redland Road - road relocated 700 feet north, crossing on new bridge. Original roadway renamed "Paramount Drive" on west side of tracks; "Chieftain Drive" on east side of tracks.

2) Derwood Road - replaced by new bridge at same location, alignment at eastern end reconfigured, roadway renamed "Indianola Drive".

3) Westmore Road - only grade crossing closed without any replacement nearby. Nearest crossing is Gude Drive, 3,000 feet to north.

4) Frederick Avenue - closed, replaced by pedestrian bridge.

5) Halpine Road - closed, pedestrian access via new tunnel at Twinbrook Metro Station 400 feet to south; road access replaced by Twinbrook Parkway 1,700 feet to south.

All other grade crossings in Rockville had been closed, with or without replacement, several decades before construction of the Red Line.

Robert Dyer said...

4:43: And why were the others closed?

Anonymous said...

@ 4:08 PM - Short attention span, Dyer?