Norris also recognized Michael Marriott for his great work on the WHCA website, which he mentioned had quickly attracted several new members. WHCA intends to keep improving the website and reminded folks that more pictures are needed when future activities take place.
Recovering from an injury, Norris asked Sara Goberdhansingh to run the rest of the meeting.
Treasurer’s Report: Randall Spadoni is continuing his efforts to ensure WHCA’s non-profit (501c3) status and registration as a formal civic association. The Association will have a P.O. Box that will be checked regularly by WHCA Secretary Laurie Weitzenkorn, and as we become more recognized, we’ll get useful information on county meetings, hearings, etc.
- Shawn Punga, of the Beautification and Land Use Committee reported that he reached out to Parks and Recreation to ask about status of the work on the Wheaton Claridge Park. There is a new project manager, but that person has not responded. WHCA will invite her to come speak at a future Association meeting. Sean/committee will also be organizing another clean up and will check with Wheaton Claridge Park about possible cooperation on the effort. Norris suggested we do before and after pictures during the cleanup and all agreed that would be useful. It was noted that there is a Rock Creek Conservancy clean up on April 11.
- Gary Skowronski of the Public Schools and Education Committee, reported that the committee is still determining projects and ideas. They plan to reach out to Highland Elementary School and the PTO to provide liaison between our organizations and to expand our enrollment, especially among the Latino population. Kristy Daphnis indicated that the Highland Principal would get us in contact with the PTO association and mentioned their “Linkages to Learning” program and health center.
- Committee reported that the County is planning on selling its Gaithersburg property, where school buses are parked, and will use various county public schools for bus parking. There is a concern for noise and pollution among WHCA members.
- Kristy Daphnis of the Membership and Bylaws Committee and the Communication Committees: Kristy explained that since the same members volunteered for both Committees, they decided to combine the two. All agreed this made sense, since their tasks reinforce each other. They have only had email/virtual exchanges, so far, but plan to have in person meetings in the future. The committee is working on a membership and communication strategy, which will include encouraging all to invite friends to nextdoor.com, which will lead them to find out about civic Association meetings. The Committee would still like to have the by-laws and some communication translated into Spanish.
- Michael Marriott of the Traffic, Crime and Safety Committee said they are hoping to meet with our Police Liaison to discuss Paul Drive and the need for traffic calming. He also reported there is a concern for crime with the warmer weather coming up. He also urged all to report potholes to try to get better service from the County.
Sara Goberdhansingh reported on the topic of speed bumps, and country procedures surrounding them. She stated that when the Country gets a request from residents for these, it studies the issues and contacts the local Civic Association. If the Association is interested in having speed bumps, the County will move forward on the request and signage. The Civic Association has a significant voice but not the only voice in the speed bump process. Among future projects to be considered will be speed bumps and signs on Paul Drive (ONLY). The meeting will be at the Wheaton Public Library on Wed, May 13 from 7-9. WHCA will also plan our meeting to coincide with that date. Sara stressed that Civic Associations decide on the speed bump issues and this is an area where we have a real voice. Kristy questioned how the County decides on funding allocations for one project like this vs. another. Sara indicated that she will be in touch on this as there is transportation planning on these issues and reminded members that any and all questions about the process and specific issues should be brought up at the May 13 meeting. Norris reminded the group that Paul Dr. is on the edge of our Wheaton Hills Civic Association area.
Jared Hautamaki reported on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT): Of the three routes under consideration for this, the one on Georgia Avenue was cancelled, as it did not have the ridership/and revenue, nor impact to support such a project. The Viers Mill corridor is further along than others, as engineering studies have begun. 355 North and Sound and 29 North and South are still on the list for projects. This information came from a recent meeting of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, which will also be meeting on the 25th. The committee communicates citizens’ concerns to the county. There will be 11 stops between Rockville and Wheaton with one in Downtown Wheaton and another at Newport Mill. This is in addition to the ride-on buses. If the Purple line is not funded, this could be the only option.
Laurie Weitzenkorn reported on a meeting on Lot 13 development held to inform citizens about the private residential high rise that will be part of the new Wheaton Development plan. In a nutshell, the plans are very preliminary, and best (and optimistic) guess for construction to begin is 2018. It is a long process for approval of sketches, plans, and permits. Building will be about 205 feet high and have 204 apartments, 30% of which will be affordable housing (62 units). Seems affordable housing in other areas is around 20%. Three levels of indoor parking (above ground, like at the Safeway building) will be for residents only. The county building will include public parking. Sidewalk width will be maintained on Grandview with planting, benches, bike parking, and good lighting. Stores on Triangle Lane will be maintained, and will have sidewalk and better lighting. This building will be residential only, with the county project including businesses. Developers say they want the building to be lively and attractive and have pedestrian traffic. They will try to mitigate construction impact, but it will be felt. The county is in responsible for construction companies complying with promised impact mitigation, so complaints can be filed with county and police. Information on County part of the project will be discussed on March 24 meeting at Wheaton High at 6:30.
Norris Thigpen informed that WHCA was contacted by the Montgomery Housing Partnership, a non-profit receiving County funds, about our input for development and a “Wheaton Vision. There will be a meeting on April 8th at the Library. This will be a session for Wheaton Hill only, as each neighborhood will discuss separately. Priorities informally mentioned included driveway subsidies returning, parking litter, and civic education, all of which into our WHCA priorities
Ideas for Spring/Summer: These included a block party, meetings on crime with our police community liaison officer, a garden walk through and yard sale(s). Stefani Olsen mentioned an organization called Maryland Votes for Animals, as there is a bill on puppy mills pending in the Md. Legislature to forbid stores from selling these puppies. See Stephanie on this topic.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m. Date for next meeting TBD. However, note the May 13 meeting scheduled.