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Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements coming to Montgomery County

I wanted to share with you news about an initiative that I proposed and my colleagues supported in the FY15 County budget. This capital budget program, called the Bicycle-Pedestrian Priority Areas (BPPAs), will help the County improve aging infrastructure to make it more appealing for walkers and bikers. This will help improve safety and promote revitalization.

Put simply, a BPPA is a defined geographical area where the enhancement of bicycle and pedestrian traffic and safety is a priority. The County has 28 BPPAs spread throughout our commercial and residential areas. However, the Council identified five priority BPPAs to start working on immediately; they are Glenmont, Grosvenor, Silver Spring CBD, Veirs Mill/Randolph, and Wheaton CBD.

The Council appropriated $375,000 for planning and design of subprojects within these five BPPAs for FY15, which began July 1, 2014. Design and construction of the subprojects will begin in FY16. In each of the remaining years, $150,000 is programmed for design and $850,000 is programmed for construction for a total of $1 million per annum.

The specific improvements may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • sidewalk, curb, and curb ramp reconstruction to meet ADA best practices,
  • bulb-outs,
  • cycle tracks,
  • streetlighting,
  • and relocation of utility poles.

I encourage you to participate in the planning process by reaching out to Ms. Sogand Seirafi at the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) who is heading up the project. You may reach her at sogand.seirafi@montgomerycountymd.gov or 240-777-7260. Please also feel free to reach out to me and my staff at any time with any suggestions or comments you may have.

I strongly believe that walkability and bikeability must be at the center of County’s plans for infrastructure and revitalization. I look forward to working closely with you in the coming months and years to bring these important improvements to your community.

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Montgomery County Council Unanimously Approves Child Care Facility Assessment Bill

The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved Bill 38-12 that would require the County’s Office of Management and Budget to submit child care facilities impact statements with certain capital projects in the Capital Improvements Program. The bill could lead to the inclusion of child care facilities in new County projects.

The demand for good child care facilities exceeds supply in the County. The purpose of the bill is to assure that the County takes advantage of all opportunities to include child care facilities in County capital projects. Councilmember Hans Riemer was the lead sponsor of the legislation. Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Roger Berliner, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen, Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice were co-sponsors.

The bill will require County departments and agencies to supplement impact statements on future construction projects that would analyze the feasibility of including a child care facility as part of the project. The potential for including child care facilities in each County Capital Improvements Program (CIP) project is not currently assessed as routine.

The County’s Department of Health and Human Services performs a similar evaluation when it considers whether to recommend inclusion of child care facilities in schools undergoing major renovation or construction as a part of the Child Care in Schools CIP project. This CIP project encourages child care providers to offer high quality child care in communities where they might not otherwise be financially able, due to the high numbers of subsidy and low-income parents.

“As a parent of two young children, I talk regularly with young families who struggle to find affordable, quality child care. I wrote this legislation because I think the County should always consider whether to set aside space for a child care provider when we are doing public buildings,” said Councilmember Riemer. “We need to start thinking of child care opportunities at the right time—during the early planning stages of projects. Beyond those stages, usually the only answer is, ‘We could have or we should have.’ By then, it is not feasible. I am glad that all members of the Council agree that we need to be pro-active on this issue.”

In the assessments that will be made in future CIP projects regarding the feasibility of creating child care facilities, the County may rely on the key factors used in assessing whether facilities should be included in school construction. Those factors include poverty rates in the immediate community, mobility rates, English for Speakers of Other Languages rates and the availability of quality (credentialed or accredited) child care.

“Expanding access to affordable child care is critical for our County to build and retain the qualified, diverse workforce employers look for,” said Council President Nancy Navarro. “This bill, which passed with my amendment to prioritize increasing access to affordable high-quality child care in areas with the greatest need, will help address this issue.”

Councilmember Marc Elrich said about Bill 38-12: “This is one of the strategies that the County should pursue to improve school readiness for children.” 

Source: Montgomery County Council’s Legislative Information Office. For a link to the full press release, please click here