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Wheaton News

Much of the talk around Wheaton concerns the planned revitalization of the Central Business Disctrict (CBD). Provided below are the public summaries of some of the Wheaton Redevelopment Steering Committee's meetings. Visit our interactive calendar to learn the dates of future meetings. A copy of the most recent summary that has been made available to us is presented below. In future months this information will be archived for your referral, and all text will remain searchable via the search function on WheatonNet.

Wheaton 2020: Planning for the Future

Summary of the Wheaton Redevelopment Steering Committee Held On 4/18/01

Members Present: Anderson, Morrison, Fryer, Gabaree, Hall, Kramer, Lynne, Mara, Mendez, Moy, Murphy, Pelz, Rubin, Sheard, and Tretter

Members Absent: Abrams, Bushwick-Malloy, Ceasar, Charles, D'Arruda, Dreyfuss, Dwyer, Eisenstadt, Glynn, Greenberg, Guinan, Hokanson, Horowitz, Joseph, Levin, Petersen, Scaggs, Statland, Vatin, Wilson

Guest Speaker: Honorable Christopher Van Hollen, Jr.

Co-Chairman Morrison chaired the meeting:

Major Items Discussed:

I. Report on the State Legislative Session -- Morrison introduced the guest speaker, Christopher Van Hollen, Jr., Maryland State Senator. Senator Van Hollen reported that this legislative session went very well with more resources approved. The County will receive over $50 million in State funding for school construction and more operating funds (ESOL, etc.) Most of the Governor's proposed $750 million six-year transportation initiative was passed, meaning more rail cars for Metro, expanded Ride-on and transit services.

The Governor did not include the requested $2.5 million for the Wheaton revitalization initiative in his base or supplemental budget. However, during the session he indicated this project's eligibility and the State's receptivity to funding this initiative from the Community Legacy Program. The Program's total funding is $9 million so the requested $2.5 million may need to be phased. Senator Van Hollen introduced a bond bill of $675,000 and the Governor provided supplemental funding for the Victory Youth Center to be located by the Conservation Corps on Georgia Avenue near Randolph Road. This will be a multi-purpose youth center including recreational activities, day care, activities for people with disabilities, the conservation corps, as well as others. A new fund was approved within the State Transportation budget for pedestrian safety education. Senator Van Hollen introduced a bill that was not approved, to increase penalties for drivers of ěhit and runî incidents.

Responding to inquiries from the Committee, Senator Van Hollen encouraged the group to continue next year to lobby for the necessary funding for the redevelopment initiative. Senator Van Hollen informed the group that pedestrian safety would continue to be an important issue next year. The Senator also reported that the Governor has not yet made affordable housing a high priority for State funding. Most of the funding still comes from federal money. In the area of mental health services, some reductions were made in the budget and the Governor responded by adding $30 million to the supplemental budget to be funded by a tax amnesty program.

Anyone wishing to contact Senator Van Hollen directly, can call 301-858-3137 (during the State session) or 202-857-6266 any other time.

Redevelopment Report --Wrenn informed the group that a meeting being held by the School Superintendent about the area public schools was also scheduled for tonight and that several Committee members were attending that meeting.

Two development proposals were previewed recently at an executive committee meeting:

The Little Tavern Redevelopment. This is a small in-fill project with an 8,000 square foot, two-story retail speculative building to be developed by Greenberg. In our meetings with the developer, we have indicated our willingness to provide streetscaping improvements to support the private sector investment. The developer has submitted plans to Park and Planning. We anticipate this will go before the Planning Board within the next 60 days to act on the site plan submission.

The Netterstrom/Jones Parcel. Eakin/Youngentob and Bozzuto Homes are proposing a development partnership to build residential units on this parcel. The proposal includes approximately 220 apartments, four to five stories in height along Georgia Avenue and wrapping around the existing office building, 85 townhouses along Amherst Avenue and a public access way through the site. The complexities of this deal involve incorporating into the project the office building that is currently under separate ownership and is also under a long-term land lease along with some of the parking. The developers propose to build a garage for both the apartment and office building parking. Public support for this project may include streetscaping and right-of-way improvements from the County as well as State Smart Growth funds to support mass transit. The developer is currently in a study period to evaluate all the issues and determine if they will pursue acquisition of the site. The developer will be presenting this proposal to the Housing Subcommittee tomorrow night and that subcommittee can then start looking at any related issues.

The Committee asked to be notified via e-mail when meetings or hearings are scheduled on any proposed new development projects and Wrenn agreed to this notice.

Subcommittee Reports:

Marketing and Business Development -- Murphy reported that the subcommittee is working on development of Wheaton's web page. Two host providers are being evaluated. A better link between the County and Wheaton web pages will be pursued. Development of our marketing plan has begun. Because of the importance of this project and we are inviting the Executive Committee to join our meeting on May 7, 2001 at 6:30 p.m. to share ideas.

Transportation and Public Safety -- Gabaree reported that they held a meeting on April 4th and all members provided an update on their focus areas. The shuttle bus survey is complete and we are trying to determine when and how to distribute. Wrenn elaborated that some transit specialists have been consulted to make sure we have the correct approach. We will issue the survey in Spanish as well as English. Another survey, the transit survey for people that commute to Wheaton, is still being developed. We may conduct this ourselves instead of having the Montgomery County Transit Services conduct the survey. This survey will go out after completion of the shuttle bus survey. In terms of street lighting, work is now progressing with BG&E's project estimates and we expect these will be completed soon and the project put out for bid.

Housing and Education -- Wrenn reported that last week's meeting was delayed and next month's meeting will focus on the presentation by Eakin/Youngentob and Bozzuto on their proposed new development.

Urban Design and Image -- The subcommittee finished reviewing charrette materials and scenarios and have started to develop a matrix to filter through and evaluate development proposals. The subcommittee's next meeting is Tuesday, April 24th at 6 p.m. at MNCPPC in their computer center where the subcommittee will preview the computer modeling capabilities.

Outreach and Community Development -- Hall reported that the subcommittee is focusing on media outreach. A tape will be shown later of the public affairs interview on Wheaton featuring Vicki Anderson and Doug Wrenn that the subcommittee facilitated with Comcast. Media advisories will be sent out about Wheaton activities and progress. We are also discussing the messages the WRSC wants to communicate to the public. The subcommittee requests the WRSC approve the development of a Progress Report to the County Executive. The subcommittees can report progress to the Executive Committee and then that Committee will finalize and issue the report. This report will be used for a variety of purposes: brief the County Executive, report progress to the community, recruit new subcommittee applicants and be a marketing tool. The WRSC approved the development of this report by June 1. Reports from subcommittees will be provided to the Executive Committee by May 15. Hall volunteered to develop a template within a week and get it to Sandi to distribute to the subcommittees.

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