Councilmember Craig Rice holds community meeting

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County Councilmember Craig Rice recently held a community meeting at Watkins Mill High School to update Village residents about important county projects and to respond to a variety of issues raised by those in attendance. Rice recognized Montgomery Village for its 50th Anniversary, and noted his attendance at the Kick-Off Celebration in February and how important this and other events, such as the upcoming Fall Festival, are to creating a sense of community.

Joining Rice at the meeting were both Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger and Fire Chief Scott Goldstein, as well as 6th District Commander Dinesh Patil and a number of Craig Rice’s legislative staff. Cathy Matthews from the Upcounty Government Center was also in attendance. Rice’s office had invited Atlantic Realty Companies (ARC) to post plans for the Village Center redevelopment, which residents could peruse before and after the meeting. A representative from Monument Realty was also there to speak to residents about the redevelopment of the former golf course property.

Rice gave a presentation on projects, which has been posted on the MVF website, www.montgomeryvillage.com. One project of interest was the pending construction to begin later this fall at Lake Whetstone to repair the riser structure located in the north portion of the lake. Several road projects were mentioned, including widening and improvements to Goshen Road, slated to begin in 2021; Watkins Mill Interchange, slated to begin in summer of 2017; and Snouffer School Road widening, to begin later this year.
Although not part of his presentation, Rice did voice his support for the Master Plan Alignment of M-83, noting that he thinks it should remain in the Master Plan and that it is only fair to the residents in the northern part of Montgomery County, given that they were given to believe that road improvements would be made to facilitate north/south transportation. However, Rice went on to say that he does not think this road will be built any time soon because of lack of funding.

There were a number of people who expressed opposition to M-83 and voiced concerns about other roadway projects and their impacts on our community. Specifically, one resident noted the fact that the county’s new public safety headquarters is going to open later in October, and that the traffic light on Snouffer School Road at its intersection with Alliston Hollow Way is not yet up and running. Rice indicated that he will see if the traffic light could be expedited, noting that the utilities are there.

Rice also mentioned the importance of transit projects, including the ongoing planning for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) for MD Route 355 and the Corridor Cities Transitway, which would go from Shady Grove Metro to Clarksburg. He also noted that plans are underway to enhance the Lakeforest Transit Center with additional bus bays that would be located on Odend’hal Avenue in the City of Gaithersburg.

Fire Chief Goldstein told the crowd that he was actively seeking a new fire station site in Montgomery Village to improve response times, especially for the northern section of the Village and beyond. He mentioned that Station 8 on Montgomery Village Avenue is the busiest fire station in the county and that in order to improve the current 8-minute response time to 6 minutes, a new fire station is warranted. His ideal location is at the corner of Rothbury Drive and Goshen Road, but he also mentioned the Stewartown Road area. A new fire station is mentioned in the Master Plan and also in the county’s CIP, although no specific funding has been allocated yet.

Commander Patil briefly gave an overview of the department’s resources and mentioned the importance of communication between the police and community members. He specifically noted that he is trying to address illegally parked cars, trucks and trailers on major roads in Montgomery Village.

He reported that robberies are up as compared to last year, and that car break-ins are a regular issue. He asked that residents be mindful of removing purses, computers, cell phones, etc. from their vehicles and locking them. He is going to be producing a newsletter with crime tips and statistics that will be published later this fall.

Chief Manger mentioned that he recently had the opportunity to speak with President Obama about community policing and noted the importance of allowing the police to do complete investigations before arriving at any conclusions, especially with cases such as those that have occurred in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also mentioned the importance of body cameras, which all county officers now wear, but he cautioned that depending on the situation, they may not provide complete evidence.

There were a number of questions at the end of the meeting dealing with housing code enforcement, school resources and road resurfacing projects.

For more information or questions, contact Councilmember Rice at 240-777-7955 or e-mail Councilmember.Rice@montgomerycountymd.gov.